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The Poe Shadow

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3.11  ·  Rating Details ·  6,397 Ratings  ·  852 Reviews
“I present to you . . . the truth about this man’s death and my life.”

Baltimore, 1849. The body of Edgar Allan Poe has been buried in an unmarked grave. The public, the press, and even Poe’s own family and friends accept the conclusion that Poe was a second-rate writer who met a disgraceful end as a drunkard. Everyone, in fact, seems to believe this except a young Baltimor
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Hardcover, 367 pages
Published May 23rd 2006 by Random House (NY) (first published 2006)
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The Name of the Rose by Umberto EcoThe Alienist by Caleb CarrThe Historian by Elizabeth KostovaThe Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz ZafónMistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin
Best Historical Mystery
149th out of 1,308 books — 3,432 voters
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156th out of 1,039 books — 2,386 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Brooke
Sep 01, 2007 Brooke rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2007, mystery
Matthew Pearl's The Poe Shadow is the first book I've read in a while that I did not like at all. The premise is interesting; a contemporary of Edgar Allen Poe attempts to discover what happened in the final days before the poet's death. Pearl had written the moderately entertaining The Dante Club prior to this, and I had expected to see the improvement that often comes with an author's sophomore effort. Instead, Pearl only manages to serve up a snooze-fest.

To begin with, Quentin Clark is the mo
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Gina
Jun 09, 2008 Gina rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Poe obsessives
While this was an interesting subject & the mystery surrounding Poe's death was written well, I HATED the lead character. He was whiney, obsessive and at times down right stupid. He's one of those guys with book smarts, but is dumb as a box of rocks when it comes to real life.

He is obsessive to the point of loosing everything he is/has, his career, fortune, home, finance, friends...the only thing that keeps him from absolutely loosing everything is due to friends coming to his aid at the en
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PUMPKINHEAD
Like all good horror aficionados, I consider myself a Edgar Allen Poe fan as much as the next man/woman. The iconic author set so much foundation for the dark genres we love and enjoy today. So I was instantly intrigued when this book blipped on my radar. A mystery surrounding the death of the great Poe? Count me in.

Alas, The Poe Shadow was a disappointment through and through. This novel just didn't cut it, no matter which way I tried to slice it. It failed to have any of the creepiness or dar
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Catherine Bracy
Sep 06, 2007 Catherine Bracy added it
Recommends it for: no one
I enjoyed Dante Club (I like historical fiction) and so was looking forward to reading The Poe Shadow--I even bought it in hardcover, which is rare for me. Well, it was terrible. Quite possibly the worst book I've ever read. It was totally unclear to me what was going on--was he crazy or was all this stuff really happening to him? I was hoping it would be brilliantly explained at the end so I kept trudging along even though it was beyond tedious. There was no payoff in the end. It was so bad ...more
Jen
Nov 13, 2013 Jen rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I think I actively disliked this book.

The more I think of it, the more I dislike. I read his book about Dante, and didn't hate, but wow I disliked this one.

First off, I know a lot about Poe. Helps that I was a docent (fancy word for tour guide) at the Richmond Poe Museum. So, yeah, I got your Poe right here.

The whole plot didn't make sense. Oh my god, I hated the main character who was pretty much a 19th century stalker. Poe should have gotten a restraining order on this guy. So when Poe dies, t
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Rose
Dec 09, 2007 Rose rated it it was amazing
Although I appreciate novels as good literature and occasionally forces of social change ("Uncle Tom's Cabin" is a good example, as it strengthened the abolitionist movement), I don't normally read them, as I find truth to be more fascinating than fiction.

"The Poe Shadow" is set in antebellum America. The protagonist, a young attorney, risks life and limb to unravel the mystery of Edgar Allan Poe's death, and enlists the aid of a French detective, supposedly the prototype for Poe literary sleut
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Leo C.
El autor estructura la novela en cinco partes o libros como él los llama según va avanzando la investigación. Se desarrolla en dos escenarios distintos; Baltimore(la mayor parte) y París.
Comienza en Baltimore, el 8 de Octubre de 1849, fecha del entierro de Poe. El protagonista, un joven abogado llamado Quentin Clark lo presencia por casualidad. Sin saber de quién se trata, de repente, le invade una inexplicable tristeza al ver la pobre sepultura que está recibiendo. Cuando se entera por los peri
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Ed Mestre
Jun 24, 2011 Ed Mestre rated it liked it
My rating should actually be taken as 3.5 stars.

This is the 2nd book involving Edgar Allan Poe I've read in the past year. The other being "The Beautiful Cigar Girl" a work of non fiction & this being historical fiction. It takes place in mid 19th century Baltimore at the time of Poe's death which the press has leaped upon as an object lesson of the evils of drink. A young lawyer & admirer of Poe becomes incensed at this slander & sets out to make the record straight, but his obsess
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Teresa
Jun 27, 2014 Teresa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
I honestly don't think I can finish this book. Which is disappointing because I really like "The Dante Club" so I had high hopes for this one.

What is the problem? Motivation. As in - what is the character's motivation for doing what he does? Seemingly there is none. I would describe it as such; Quentin is a man who only wants a blue M&M, however he lives in a world where there ARE NO blue M&M's. So he just runs around and screams erratically at strangers to make them believe there's a b
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Jaret
Mar 25, 2015 Jaret rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The premise of this novel was very intriguing. I liked the concept behind the story, but it could have used a lot more editing. There were quite a few descriptions and events that could have been omitted and allowed the plot to move at a better pace. The ending was one area that needed to be edited. I found myself re-reading a lot to try and follow along as Pearl was revealing Poe's last hours. I'm still not sure I understood where he was going with his story. Then, all of a sudden, everyone's ...more
Bev
So...the common saying is that "the third time's the charm"--right? Not necessarily. A couple of challenges asked us to give a book we'd never been able to finish another try. So, I decided on The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl. I tried to read it a couple of times and just couldn't finish it. This year was the chance to change that. For good measure, I also added it to my TBR Pile list for Adam's challenge. That would ensure that I read the darn thing.

Okay. So, I did. And I didn't like it any bett
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Vanessa
Nov 01, 2014 Vanessa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2.5 stars.

I finished the book! I can't believe I finished it! This is a major deal for me, because I've had this book on my shelf for around 8 years now, and I've always put it off. I don't really know why, because I'm a fan of Edgar Allan Poe. Maybe it was the mystery element, something I don't really tend to read in fiction. Anyway, I finally knuckled down and finished this book, so finally I am in the position to write a complete review.

The Poe Shadow follows the endeavors of Quentin Clark, a
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C.M. Spivey
Jul 05, 2010 C.M. Spivey rated it did not like it
This book was a huge disappointment. The plot--a young 19th century attorney investigates the mysterious death of Edgar Allan Poe--seemed promising, but was not nearly as interesting as I'd hoped. I attribute this to two failings: failure to create likeable characters, and failure to adhere to the adage "brevity is the soul of wit."

On the first count: the protagonist, Quentin Clark, is childish and insipid. He's an irritating hero, but what's worse is that he isn't a hero who moves the plot for
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Tama Wise
I have to agree with a lot of the reviews here. I read and absolutely loved the Dante Club, so when I heard there was a new book from the same author, I snatched it up. The premise was tantalizing, what really happened to Edgar Alan Poe in his final days?

I got about halfway through this book, and eventually decided to throw it in. Where Dante Club moved with all the pace and movement of a well plotted film, the Poe Shadow was boring from the start. I do agree. The main characters not likable in
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Bookmarks Magazine

Matthew Pearl's best-selling The Dante Club (2003) successfully meshed history, literature, and mystery. Though he tries to duplicate this formula and honor a great American writer, The Poe Shadow fails to garner similar interest. First, Pearl's attempt to echo 19th-century prose is fusty and verbose. Second, Clark, though he has his eccentricities, is rather "poor company" (Wall Street Journal). Third, while the subplots offer intrigue, they rarely advance the plot and never attain the macabre

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Devon
May 15, 2016 Devon rated it did not like it
A 300+ page framing device for his personal research and interest into the death of Edgar Allen Poe. Full of false promises, an unlikable and unreliable narrator that we are forced to trust due to the publisher promised "answers to Poe's death" and little closure at the end. The whole thing seemed a self indulgent excuse for why the author himself had wasted his life researching Poe- making "purpose" out of his research by publishing it as a piece of historical fiction. "See mom and dad!? You ...more
Katherine
Sep 05, 2007 Katherine rated it it was ok
The real redeeming this about this book is that at the end (in the historical notes) you find out that the main character's conclusions about Poe might really be true. That made the book a million times more interesting... and yet I still think it only gets two stars. The main character is a bit too irritating, and not in any sort of loveable or identifiable way. You get sick of him, which makes it hard to keep reading the otherwise interesting story about Poe's death. If you're interest in Poe, ...more
Jenny
Apr 13, 2009 Jenny rated it really liked it
I am being a little generous with four stars, but three seemed stingy. I very much liked the premise of this book, and Pearl has a nice knack for literary mystery and period details. Perhaps I was hoping for more about Poe himself, or perhaps I hold all literary mysteries up to "Possession" (which is hardly fair). I would recommend this and look forward to "The Last Dickens".
SculderLover
Apr 14, 2015 SculderLover rated it really liked it
For people who like Poe. I am a huge fan of Poe's poetry and short stories. This is a fun read for people who enjoy his works or people new to him and want to learn more about his life through a story.
Angela
This started off quite slowly but it's a good mystery read and I'm glad I stuck with it. A lot of the prose can be quite long-winded and think it could have done with a better edit.
Tracey
Feb 20, 2015 Tracey rated it liked it
I loved The Dante Club (reviewed in July). It was intelligent, and pure geeky fun, and I had a lovely time picking my way among the corpses in 19th century Boston. So I jumped at the chance to take The Poe Shadow on paperbackswap.com.

I should preface this by admitting I haven't read much Poe. I have a couple of collections; I've just ... never gotten around to it. But I'm familiar with his most famous poems, I knew who C. Auguste Dupin was, and I knew a little about Poe's life and reputation - a
...more
Michiyo 'jia' Fujiwara
Aku belum pernah satu kalipun membaca karya-karya Edgar Allan Poe..dan ketika aku mendapatkan buku ini, dengan harga yang amat istimewa pastinya..disebuah pameran buku beberapa bulan yang lalu..kisah yang dilatar belakangi mystery-thriller dan sedikit (banyak) unsur selidik menyelidiki.. waah seneng dong!! Ini kan termasuk salah satu genre favoritku..buku hampir setebal 800-an halaman..yang terbagi didalamnya menjadi; Buku I (8 Oktober 1849), Buku II (Paris), Buku III (Baltimore 1851)..Buku IV ...more
Sarah Sammis
Jun 30, 2008 Sarah Sammis rated it liked it
Shelves: released
My final review for June is The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl, a book I bought last year because I liked the cover and the title. It's the same superficial reason I used for Measuring the World by Daniel Kehlmann and for the most part, my intuition paid off for both.

Edgar Allen Poe showed up unexpected and in a confused state to the Washington College Hospital in Baltimore. He died there on October 3, 1849. Before his death he called out for a person named Reynolds and a letter was sent to a Dr.
...more
Rosemarie
Sep 17, 2016 Rosemarie rated it it was ok
Shelves: on-my-bookshelf
it was uninteresting, i had expected more action and less dialogue. characters have absolutely no depth and the final reveal is quite boring as well... proved my boyfriend right who said i shouldn't be reading this pulp. how disappointing to be wrong.
Christia
Sep 08, 2009 Christia rated it it was ok
“Wouldn’t you wish to protect something you knew to be great that everyone else sought to desecrate? Wouldn’t you wish to be a part of changing something, even if it meant changing yourself?"

Quentin Clark is a disillusioned attorney living in Baltimore. Although successful in his profession and on the verge of marrying his lifelong sweetheart, after accidentally stumbling upon the very strange and hurried funeral for his literary idol, Edgar Allan Poe, he is willing to sacrifice everything and e
...more
Sam
Dec 07, 2009 Sam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a superb historical thriller based on the real events and characters surrounding Edgar Poe's death in Baltimore in 1849. Pearl recreates 19th century Baltimore and Paris in the literary style of the time and draws the reader into a very Poe-esque tale of mystery and intrigue. Although the characters do come across reserved and controlled without much emotion it must be remembered that in the mid 19th century that is how people were, everything was very formal with etiquette still very ...more
Fanda Kutubuku
Feb 22, 2011 Fanda Kutubuku rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Akhirnyaaa... aku selesai melahap buku 'sexy' setebal hampir 800 ini...
Genre detektif memang kesukaanku. Kalau ditambah dengan unsur sejarah, lebih menantang lagi. Apalagi sejarah itu tentang seorang yg punya nama nesar di dunia kesusasteraan dunia: Edgar Allan Poe.

Hampir semua unsur di buku ini adalah fakta sejarah. Penulisnya, Matthew Pearl hanya merangkai berbagai fakta, data, opini dari berbagai sumber untuk membentuk sebuah penalaran yang masuk akal. Yang bukan fakta adalah tokoh2 sentraln
...more
Natasha GJ Nanny Nakia
Reseñado en mi blog Nanny Books

Todo lo que lleva el nombre de Poe (uno de mis autores favoritos) inmediatamente me llama la atención. En este caso, La sombra de Poe de Matthew Pearl, libro que me regalaron totalmente de sorpresa (pasé varias veces frente a él diciendo "mirá que lindo", para que el mensaje cayera en el inconsciente y saliera en el momento oportuno), me ha gustado mucho y no fue para nada lo que esperaba (positivamente).
La muerte de Poe obsesionará a Quentin, nuestro protagonista,
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Linda
Dec 14, 2012 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book. I listened to the audio version of the book and perhaps the good narrator, who was very good with the voices and added drama where it was needed, had a lot to do with my enjoyment. Maybe, maybe not. It was a little slow at times and there were a couple of bad points in the recording, where it just went haywire.

I read a number of reviews here and I agree with them that the protagonist, Quentin Clark, was a bit hard to like. He was annoying, whiny, and excitable and I thought he
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William
Jan 02, 2013 William rated it did not like it
I started 2012 with Pearl's "The Dante Club", and I loved it. So much so that I named it my favorite book of that year. I hoped lightning would strike twice and started 2013 with Pearl's "The Poe Shadow"
It is said lightning never strikes the same place twice, and I now have the proof.
"The Poe Shadow" follows a fictional Baltimore lawyer, Quentin Clark, as he tries to clear Edgar Allan Poe's name after dying what many believe to be a drunkenly disgraceful death. Clark goes to Paris to enlist the
...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Please add page count 2 13 Oct 26, 2016 05:23AM  
Please add page count 1 1 Oct 23, 2016 05:25PM  
2015 Reading Chal...: The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl 2 12 Mar 11, 2015 06:17PM  
Proper funeral for Edgar Allan Poe 1 25 Oct 11, 2009 02:26AM  
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Matthew Pearl is the author of the novels The Dante Club, The Poe Shadow, The Last Dickens, The Technologists, and The Last Bookaneer. His books have been New York Times bestsellers and international bestsellers translated into more than 30 languages. His nonfiction writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe, and Slate.com. He has been heard on shows ...more
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