Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe
The Murders in the Rue Morgue: Edgar Allen Poe, 1 – 6 January, 2010.
My rating: ♦◊◊◊◊
The first and titular of the five short stories began with a long discussion of everything you never wanted to know about chess, simply to allow Poe to make clear the difference between observing and analysing. The case is outlined in the past tense, and solved immediately. There is no investigation, and none of the characters referred to actually appear. In fact, the long, repetitive and frankly monotonous character summaries are all but useless when it comes to the solution, which is bad play on Poe’s part and humiliating to the modern writer.
His next story begins with a spiel on calculus before using a similar style to recount the case. Poe’s writing style is difficult to follow. He censors names, places and dates for no real reason, and in the second story is at great pains to explain the fiction is based on a true story. Thus, he jumps in and out of character, telling the tale in first-person as the detective’s friend, and as an omniponent narrator, and seems confused about his role in the whole escapade.
Long newspaper “clippings” are written in the same flowery prose, or staccato; annotations pop up to explain the parallels to real cases to the reader akin to watching a DVD commentary while watching the feature film; and the author tells the reader that he declines to pass on information because he feels like it.
That being said, one must recognise and praise Poe for inventing the gengre of detective fiction and a great deal of literary devices – locked room murder, ‘detective and friend’ narration, and more. Having the first ever murder mystery on your shelf is a coup. Reading it, however, is more like a punishment.
Sorry it’s been so long since I updated! Promise to not miss any more out!