Eric's Reviews > The Murders in the Rue Morgue: The Dupin Tales

The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe
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Nov 25, 13

bookshelves: classic, short-stories, detective-mystery
Recommended to Eric by: Sherlock Holmes
Recommended for: Fans of the detective genre
Read in July, 2009, read count: Once

I decided to read Poe's Dupin stories after reading this exchange between Watson and Sherlock Holmes in A Study in Scarlet:
"It is simple enough as you explain it," I said, smiling. "You remind me of Edgar Allen Poe's Dupin. I had no idea that such individuals did exist outside of stories."

Sherlock Holmes rose and lit his pipe. "No doubt you think that you are complimenting me in comparing me to Dupin," he observed. "Now, in my opinion, Dupin was a very inferior fellow. That trick of his of breaking in on his friends' thoughts with an apropos remark after a quarter of an hour's silence is really very showy and superficial. He had some analytical genius, no doubt; but he was by no means such a phenomenon as Poe appeared to imagine."
I cannot look at this compilation as one cohesive work, as each of the three stories -- 'The Murders in the Rue Morgue', 'The Mystery of Marie Roget', and 'The Purloined Letter' -- are written in different styles with different themes, linked only by the presence of Dupin and the unnamed narrator. As such, I will comment on and rate each story individually.

'The Murders in the Rue Morgue' was easily the most entertaining of the three. While imperfect, it is the prototypical detective story on which all others are based, and still managed to be an engaging read over a century and a half after it was written. The biggest flaw is that the solution to the murders is a) rather absurd and b) incapable of being surmised by the reader before it is revealed at the conclusion. My rating: Four stars.

'The Mystery of Marie Roget' lacked all the positive qualities of its predecessor, but maintained its biggest flaw -- the overlong sections of Dupin's exposition. The result was a short story that was dry as a criminal justice textbook and lacked any overall characters or plot. My rating: Two stars.

'The Purloined Letter' was the best of the Dupin tales by any critical measure. The story balances plot, storytelling, exposition, and pace better than the previous two. The story is shorter, tighter, and gives the most insight into the mind and heart of Dupin, beyond his long-winded critical analysis. My rating: Four stars.
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