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The Pale Blue Eye

3.71  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,618 Ratings  ·  458 Reviews

At West Point Academy in 1830, the calm of an October evening is shattered by the discovery of a young cadet's body swinging from a rope. The next morning, an even greater horror comes to light. Someone has removed the dead man's heart. Augustus Landor—who acquired some renown in his years as a New York City police detective—is called in to discreetly investigate. It's a b

Audio CD, 16 pages
Published June 28th 2006 by BBC Audiobooks America (first published May 23rd 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Miguel Tejada-Flores
This book may not be for everyone. But if you are a lover of words - and in particular, the rich complex 19th Century literary (and often poetic) style of Edgar Allan Poe, this book is a treat. Yes, it's a mystery - with multiple gruesome and bloody deaths and murders at its heart - but more than that, it's an exploration of complex and dark characters, human beings....and exploration of the darkside of the psyche. The book has a slow pace - almost measured - and it takes its time developing the ...more
Sep 10, 2007 Punk rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mystery. This was going to get four stars, right up until twenty pages from the end, at which point it seriously pissed me off.

Augustus Landor, retired New York constable, recounts his involvement in a murder investigation that takes place at West Point in 1830. Guest starring Edgar Allan Poe. I thoroughly enjoyed the first 387 pages of this novel. It's a nice little mystery with a hint of the supernatural and lots of cold West Point atmosphere. Bayard is an engaging writer. His prose is clear a
Feb 12, 2009 Doug rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I find myself on a Louis Bayard binge. I quite enjoyed The Black Tower, and just finished this one and was impressed as well. In the historical fiction crime mystery genre (which I often find myself gravitating towards a la Matthew Pearl and Caleb Carr), these are excellent. The Pale Blue Eye includes a young Edgar Allen Poe during his short time at West Point. Always read to the very last page with Bayard.
Oct 30, 2010 Tim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
You can't swing a dead cat these days without hitting a book with historical characters in a fictional setting. And I swing a lot of dead cats, believe me.

When it's done well, though, who cares how many of them there are? And Louis Bayard does it well. Fresh off his fine "Mr. Timothy," his look at Dickens' Tiny Tim as an adult (OK, so Tiny Tim wasn’t historical, but you get the idea), Bayard threw Edgar Allan Poe into a novel. No, he’s not the first (or last) to do this, but "The Pale Blue Eye,"
Nov 12, 2008 Jenifer rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Audio. There are many well-written reviews of this book on Goodreads. I loved reading the reviews and seeing why people liked this book. I just didn't like it that well. I haven't read a lot of Edgar Allen Poe and although I understand that the language in this book was supposed to be indicative of his style, it was just too wordy and flowery for me. It dragged in too many places and the fun parts were few and far between. It would have been better for me had it all been more like this;

"Oh, Leah
Dec 12, 2014 Molly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 5-stars
Já há alguns anos que andava de olho nesta obra e, com a promoção da Sábado/Saída de Emergência, tive a oportunidade de o adquirir por um preço mais interessante. Não pude resistir! E o resultado foi fantástico: há muito tempo que não lia um livro deste género tão bom!

Gosto de um bom thriller; seja em filme ou em livro. Uma história com mistério, intensa, poderosa. E se for passada no século XIX melhor ainda, uma vez que essa época é, por excelência, a melhor para estes temas (na minha opinião).
Jan 03, 2009 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would have given this book 4.5 stars if possible. I have recently read Louis Bayard's more recent book The Black Tower and enjoyed it tremendously. However, I think this previous offering is even better.

To be honest, initially, the early 19th century, Poe-esque language was a bit cumbersome - but that is fault of me the reader, not the story itself. Once I became more comfortable navigating the verbiage, I came to appreciate the character and complexity of the writing. In the end, the style a
Apr 01, 2013 Quillracer rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Retired detective Gus Landor is brought to West Point to investigate the hanging death of a cadet and the theft of his heart. To assist in his investigation, he drafts a cadet by the name of Edgar Allen Poe.

Bayard writes using language and sentence structure appropriate for the time setting of this novel (1830), so his prose is more ‘flowery’ than the norm today and loaded with metaphors (“to find the snowflakes still spilling like hoarded coins from the sky’s cloud-purses” as example of both).
May 09, 2008 Nancyc rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard is, like the writings of one of his characters, a tale of mystery and imagination. Set at West Point in the 19th Century, the novel has all the flavor and ambiance befitting such a setting. I love reading books that fictionalize real people. Bayard fictionalizes the leadership of West Point at that time, as well as one of the most eccentric writers in American history.

The chief investigator of this mystery/detective novel enlists one Cadet Edgar Allen Poe to ass
Alexander Inglis
Louis Bayard has written an extraordinary novel in The Pale Blue Eye. Ostensibly, it's a work of historical fiction: the US West Point Academy, on the banks of the Hudson River, and the cadets who toiled there in 1830 are leading characters; Edgar Allan Poe, a cadet that year; Sylvanus Thayer, the commander; Gouverneur Kemble, arms manufacturer; these and other real life figures take roles in this purely fictional murder mystery. It is largely told by Gus Landor, a retired constable from New Yor ...more
Aug 21, 2008 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own
Let me preface this by saying that I'm not an avid reader of mystery novels in their pure "detective" form. I've read most of Sherlock Holmes. I've also read numerous "juvenile" mysteries over time (Hardy Boys and the like). I've also read numerous short stories including the "first" detective story, "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" by E.A.Poe.

That said, I'm a big fan of a good mystery that really puzzles and gets you pondering. I've also always been a good fan of Poe and the themes and tones in
Dec 05, 2010 Lowed rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who like mystery
I don't know what to say.. Haha! Sorry, that seemed like a bad start for a review. And this book even took me a while to finish. Okay here goes;

Louis Bayard is not Umberto Eco, who i have liked a lot after reading The Name of the Rose. However, there is something in The Pale Blue Eye that makes you want to scratch your eye out Or maybe just pull your hair off (as this should be less painful). Surely this wasn't the MOST amazing detective story and I would have to agree with some who had reviewed
Apr 22, 2015 Badseedgirl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes all I want as a reader is a good whodunit mystery. I found that and more with Louis Bayard’s wonderful sophomore novel The Pale Blue Eye. Set in Upstate New York, specifically The West Point Military Academy. After the apparent suicide and then the subsequence disappearance of the body, the military calls in retired NYC police detective Gus Landor. What follows is a traditional mystery novel with all the usuals, an abundance of possible suspects, additional murders, and the like. With ...more
Aug 17, 2015 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
Again he sprang up...and again he faltered. Why, I couldn't tell you. Was it the difference in our sizes? (I could have laid him flat, I suppose, if I'd had a mind to.) More likely it was the difference in our power, which is another thing altogether. There comes a time, I think, in every man's life when he is forced to see his utter helplessness. He spends his last penny on a drink, or the woman he loves sweeps her plate clean of him, or he learns that the man he has trusted with everything wis ...more
Feb 07, 2014 Free rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I liked this so much more than I thought I would!

Well written - well that is a given, if you have read the other reviews.

An EXCELLENT mystery, right up there with the genre's best mysteries ever.

A great main character - I was genuinely intrigued by Augustus Landor. I liked him, I wanted to know more about him, and his characterisation was great.

I have to address the Poe aspect, of course. Funnily enough this was why I intially held back from reading the book. I expected the book to be very much
Will Byrnes
When retired constable Gus Landor is summoned out of his upstate New York retirement to investigate a strange death at the not-yet-permanent West Point, he encounters a charismatic, brilliant cadet named Edgar Allen Poe. The two team up to solve the mystery, using the techniques the estimable Mr. Poe would apply in helping establish the murder mystery genre. Bayard is up to his usual tricks here, delving into literary history for characters and notions and coming up with a rollicking good time. ...more
During the hours before his death, Augustus Langor, retired former NYC detective and widower recalls the circumstances surrounding his investigation of the gruesome murder of a cadet at West Point. The year is 1830 and the institution had not yet earned the reputation it enjoys today so the powers that be engage his services in an attempt to avoid any negative publicity. During his investigation he enlists the help of Cadet Edgar Allan Poe to be his eyes and ears on campus, holding clandestine m ...more
Mar 02, 2009 Gerund rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some historical figures are so eccentric they seem as if they've stepped out of the pages of fiction; Edgar Allan Poe, creator of some of literature's most fantastical characters, is certainly one of them. Born to impoverished actors, addicted to alcohol and gambling, and dead at 40 of still disputed causes, it was just a matter of time before another writer plucked the man who is credited with inventing the detective story (The Murder in the Rue Morgue) from the dryness of historical fact, and ...more
Anima Miejska
Sep 02, 2013 Anima Miejska rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
Well, Reader, rating this book put me in a lot of trouble. Much depends on what you are looking for in the read. If your prime choice is language, which is flowery, original to the era and full of sofisticated stanzas, alas some historical characters and settings mingled with the fictious context, then this read is definitely for you, and I hurry to admit that I missrated it. But if, by no means you cannot stand too long descriptions, deliberately detailed analysis of poetry and human condition ...more
Jun 04, 2009 Jodi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd give it 2.5 stars if I could, because this book left me feeling very torn.

In brief, West Point cadet Edgar Allan Poe helps solve a murder mystery with a retired New York detective. Someone is killing cadets and removing their hearts. The author has done a good job in capturing Poe & his time period, as well as the language used.

But the ending left me cold. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a "twist" ending very much....heck, that's why I watch Law & Order. And I don't read a lot of myste
Jun 05, 2009 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Louis Bayard is a consummate, critically acclaimed writer of literary historical novels - and The Pale Blue Eye adds to that high level of achievement by also being a murder mystery! PLUS - a young, very odd, very eccentric, and ultimately very likeable Edgar Allen Poe is one of the main characters. Set during Poe's 1-2 year "training" at a barely established West Point (c. 1830), Poe is commandeered to help a retired NYC detective (Augustus Landon) to infiltrate the close ranks of West Point ca ...more
Leah Craig
Apr 03, 2016 Leah Craig rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I was about 20 pages from the end of this, and I assumed I had just read the big conclusion scene, I was disappointed in the book. I didn't think the scene fit all the build up. But then I kept reading. Hoooooly twist, Batman! In like, the last 5 pages. I loved it. I definitely don't think this is a book for everyone, but if you're into the really thick and rich 19th century style writing, you'll enjoy it.
Jodi Cassell
Sep 30, 2012 Jodi Cassell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Louis is an incredible writer who blends to works of famed authors like Poe, Shakespeare,and Dickens with his work. It's an incredible new genre that he may have created himself? I am in awe of his creativity and brilliant writing. Very beautiful writing style as well without being over the top. I agree with another reviewer below that this may not be for everyone, but I find it to be an intriguing and refreshingly unique style. Try it - you may find that you are hooked like me!

On a fun side nig
Katharine Ott
May 10, 2015 Katharine Ott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ocbc-read
"The Pale Blue Eye" - written by Louis Bayard and published in 2006 by Harper Collins. Very good 1830s West Point murder mystery with Edgar Allan Poe as a main character. Plan to read more of this author.
In October 1830, officials at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., discover the hanged body of a cadet. Hours later, after the cadet’s body has been moved to an ice house for storage until burial, they make an even more shocking discovery: The cadet’s heart has been stolen, carved out of his body.
Enter Gus Landor, a New York City constable who has retired to the nearby Hudson River town of Buttermilk Falls. Based on Gus’ legendary reputation for code breaking, riot control, and “the gl
Laura Monroe
Feb 11, 2016 Laura Monroe rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
The payoff for The Pale Blue Eye is amazing. The trouble is getting there. Bayard has created a very interesting premise. It is West Point in 1830. A young cadet has apparently committed suicide by hanging himself, but then his body is stolen and his heart ripped out. Retired NY policeman Gus Landor is called on to solve the frightening mystery that threatens the very existence of the new academy. Landor in turn enlists the help of Cadet Fourth Class Edgar Allen Poe to help in the investigation. ...more
Pete Marchetto
Oct 23, 2015 Pete Marchetto rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In The Pale Blue Eye, Bayard presents a tale of grotesque murder and intrigue set in America's West Point military academy in the 19th century, doing so with such conviction, with such a knack for the writing of the period, that I had to conduct some research part-way through in order to reassure myself that he is indeed a contemporary writer.

In the course of that research, I discovered that Bayard is a fan of Edgar Allan Poe. I must here confess to being something less than a fan myself. In Poe
Terence Hawkins
Jul 10, 2016 Terence Hawkins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
June 25, 2016
My father was convinced I'd make a fine army officer. This even though we'd not only met, but lived in the same house. It was his deepest ambition that I attend West Point. He decided that my reluctance--which he deduced from multiple suicide attempts--would evaporate on contact with the realities of cadet life. So by the time I was seventeen I'd been to West Point twice. (He was wrong, by the way.)

A few weeks ago my muse and keeper, the pith
Sam Whitehouse
Feb 04, 2016 Sam Whitehouse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is written in a classic literary style and I couldn't get into it at first. But once I got used to the flowery language and slow pace, the atmosphere and interesting characters were enough to keep me reading. The mystery is solid too, with plot twists and misdirection right up until the final chapter-which delivered an ending I didn't see coming.
The two main characters, one of them Edgar Allen Poe, are well developed and at times Bayard makes the reader question them, too.
The first t
Greg Z
Feb 01, 2015 Greg Z rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Upon finishing this book I was genuinely surprised at the denouement. I've read many, many mysteries. I've read at least half (40+) of Agatha Christie's stupendous output. But this beautifully written murder mystery is a great one. Just imagine Edgar Allan Poe as a detective when he attended West Point, throw in some grisly murders and the impenetrable cold of a New England winter, and you have a deeply atmospheric thriller. This one is a step above the author's "The School of Night". If you're ...more
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A staff writer for, Bayard has written articles and reviews for the New York Times, the Washington Post,, and Preservation, among others. Bayard lives in Washington, D.C.
More about Louis Bayard...

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“Well, as to that, all I'll say is, you can't take out a fellow's heart before he's ready to give it up.” 3 likes
“I'm a solitary sort, I get chaffed by too many elbows.” 1 likes
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