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The American Boy

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  2,374 Ratings  ·  210 Reviews
Edgar Allan Poe is the American boy, a child standing on the edge of mysteries. In 1819 two Americans arrive in London, and soon afterwards a bank collapses, a man is found dead and mutilated, a heiress flirts with her inferiors, and a schoolmaster struggles to understand what is happening.
Unknown Binding, 485 pages
Published May 1st 2008 by Not Avail (first published January 1st 2003)
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Jan 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: fiona quinn
Shelves: xx-2010-xx
This is a great book. Andrew Taylor really should be more popular. Maybe the fact that he isn't as popular is a compliment? At any rate, plot and characterization were both fantastic here. I was sucked in very quickly, and it definitely has the feel of a 19th century work of fiction, even though it is a modern work.

This man is just a great talent and he continues to impress me. The books I've read of his have a completely different feel, but the writing is undeniably Taylor. Do yourself a favor
I loved this book.

I've read many of the reviews, and while I agree with some of the criticisms (more on that later) I was so thoroughly caught up in this murder mystery set in the pre-Dickensian era that I have to put it on my list of favorites. The atmosphere, the details, the environment was richly rendered, the characters were fully fleshed and three-dimensional, and the mystery was intriguing, properly grisly, intricate and always compelling.

It is about a schoolteacher named Thomas Shield wh
Jul 01, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Meh. I found the first half intriguing enough, but the second half bored me. I found it hard to stay connected to the plot and the characters. The more intricate the plot got, the less interested I became. I was tempted to abandon this book, but I'd already invested so much time in it. I don't know why I do this to myself, but I forced myself to finish it.

The only reason I gave it three stars instead of two was because historical fiction requires a considerable degree of competence on the part
Hilary G
Dec 12, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I did not like this book.

This is the second book (Fingersmith being the first) in our reading list which appears to have got at least half its ideas from Wilkie Collins. Perhaps if I had never heard of, or never read, Wilkie Collins, I would have enjoyed this book, but since I have heard of him, and The Woman in White, and the Moonstone are favourites of mine, and since The American Boy is (in my opinion) so inferior to either one of these, I found the book irritating in the extreme.

"An enthrall
Sep 13, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(Dear Fiona)

The first thing I had to keep in my mind was that The American boy is set in 1800 London. The story gets told by Thomas Shield whose life changes he gets a position as tutor to the American boy Edgar poe and his best friend Charles.

Things seems to be going finally better in his life, he is respectable and has a job. But his life will complately change for the better but for sure also for the worse the moment he meets Charles and Edgar's family.

The way the story is written, different
This review is one of those times when I would like half stars to be available, as I probably would give it a 4 1/2. I loved the whole Edgar Allan Poe connection, and it was handled with much care and craft. Taylor does so well what sets apart a good read from a great read, layering. He gives you a three-dimensional read, rather than a flat two-dimensional. I look forward to reading more by this engaging author.
Mary Corbal
Muy bien escrito.
Over dit boek van Andrew Taylor moet ik eigenlijk geen recensie schrijven maar een heel essay. Dat voert echter een beetje ver voor deze rubriek maar jullie houden het te goed. Een onvergeeflijke misdaad is - gedeeltelijk - een verhaal over de jaren dat Edgar Allen Poe in Engeland woonde. Hij is in dit verhaal 'de Amerikaanse jongen' die liefdevol door de familie Allen wordt opgenomen. Hij raakt bevriend met Charlie Frant, en samen worden ze aangenomen als leerling op de school waar de hoofdpers ...more
This is a book of suspense, culture, and murder. It is loosely and brilliantly set around the youth of Edgar Allen Poe. Don’t let that attract or detract you; the book is written in such a way that the fact of Poe causes shadows in your reading that may or may not be true. It adds to the suspense.

An Unpardonable Crime is a looking glass into the culture of old England of the 1800 and 1900’s. There is a fascinating image created as one reads the book. There is high finance, hidden schemes, and un
Sep 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's such a great feeling when you have really enjoyed reading a book and find that there are plenty of other novels by the same author that you can add to your list of books to read.

I enormously enjoyed reading this. I'm not really a fan of historical novels and when I'm in a bookshop I'll usually ignore those that are set in another era. I'm not really sure why, as this is one of a number of historical novels that I have read which have been excellent.

Not having ever read any Poe, I'm sure mu
Candy Wood
Though there are no police detectives, this is a murder mystery. The narrator, Thomas Shield, was at Waterloo in 1815 and is trying to get his life back on track by teaching in a Stoke Newington school for boys. One of his pupils is Edgar Allan, son of an actor and con man named David Poe, but the father is a more important character here than the ten-year-old future writer. The British title, The American Boy, is misleading. Mr. Shield experiences the extremes of London, from the dangerous slum ...more
Jan 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An atmospheric and entertaining story that is a mixture of crime novel and historical melodrama. Reminds you of Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens. Twists and turns all the way to the end. Thoroughly enjoyed this - kept me guessing. A great way to pass time during a wet and grey January in England
Alethea Bothwell
Aug 31, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What a slow-moving BORING book! It did have a plot - quite a complicated one - but until it was all explained in the last several pages, it seemed as though nothing much was going on.

And I kept waiting for Edgar Allen to become an important character.
Karen Wellsbury
Another book I read a few months back (I am doing a bit of housekeeping at the moment) and I remember it being quite atmospheric, but didn't really hook me in, I wanted to liken it more than I actually did.
Apr 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
slightly confusing events in story.
Story not explicit
Slow in places
Very interesting premise for story
good characters
Good relationships between characters
Nothing seems forced.

I like this a lot.
Debs Carey
If I'd read the book without knowing the title, I'd probably have had a higher opinion of it. For it's certainly pacy and action-packed. But the fact that Edgar Allan Poe appears in it as a minor character is simply too tenuous, in my opinion. In the Epilogue, the author makes the case for his statement that the boy is a fulcrum, but I think the case shouldn't need to be made, if it was a good one.

Americans certainly feature more than one expect in a tale based (largely) in London during this pa
C.J. Hill
This is a good old-fashioned murder mystery based around a year in the childhood of Edgar Allan Poe - not that the child is a huge part of the narrative - but interesting facts about his adoption and years in England at a private boys' school are apparently true. Lots of historical background showing both the upper and lower classes at odds in the Regency period, and a cast of characters spanning all societal levels makes this a fun and intriguing read.
Judith Paterson
A slow burn of a novel. It did remind me very much of the slower pace of Victorian novels but it did draw me in quite sucessfully to want to know what it was all about and I perservered.
The ending was a little enigmatic
The sense of time was well done - it had period detail without the sense of a history documentary.
Would read another by this author.
Andrew McClarnon
Lots of plot, some interesting situations, and an enjoyable look at late Georgian life in this Wilkie-Collins style mystery. Although the notes make a case for the importance of the American boy to the story, its more a story of a teacher, caught up wtith two of his students, and associated family members. The style is very straight, with the odd bit of Victorian resitence in the mix.
Spänningsroman i historisk miljö. Tid: 1819-20 Plats: Huvudsakligen London.
Berättare: Tom Shields, lärare på en internatskola och föräldralös. Andra personer: Sohie Frant mor till Charlie Frant, elev på skolan. Miss Carswall, kusin till Sophie och rik oäkta dotter till Mr Carswall. Bankiren Henry Frant försvinner....

Mord, kärlek och pengar. Lite krystat slut. Annars ganska bra bok.
J. Griff
Oct 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very good historical fiction novel, but the mystery aspect took quite a while to get to, plus took me a bit to figure out how the main protagonist (Thomas Shield) would tie into everything. My original draw to this book was to learn somewhat about the childhood of Edgar Allen Poe. I would recommend this to others mystery lovers or Poe fans.
Nov 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Andrew Taylor is a writer that I will look out for again after reading this book. Set in Regency London in the 1800s it's interesting both historically and culturally with an atmospheric, gripping narrative.
Julien Borel
Jan 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Un rythme très lent et un livre plutôt long mais impossible de décrocher. Les intrigues sont tenues jusqu’à la dernière ligne, et les liens historiques avec l’histoire d’Edgar Allan Poe sont subtils et bien trouvés.
Jilly Shaw
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I audiobooked this on my daily commute and kind of spoiled the ending for myself - definitely needs a lot of attention for the final 40 minutes. It's a gentle book, some lovely language. Totally convincing period detail and I'm gutted Shield isn't going to be talking to be every day now.
Dec 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
beautifully written book in Dickensian style. really enjoyed it.
Found book very difficult to get into. Characters didn't stay with me. Read last half quickly once I'd understood the style & themes.
Amandeep Sibia
Dragged on and seemed overly complicated.
Dec 11, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jan 16, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thomas Shield has a teaching position at a private school near London. Through a change in circumstances, he is hired as a tutor for young boy named Charles and his American friend, Edgar. Thomas becomes enmeshed in a tangle of deceit, crimes, and murder by wealthy and unscrupulous businessmen. Through no fault of his own, his reputation is discredited and he must find a different job to survive. Thomas tries to establish who the victims were; why and how they died. The boy, Edgar Allen, became ...more
Sydney Jean
I really struggled with this book. It was intriguing enough for me to keep going but I found it quite slow.
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RGV Book Junkies : My Book Sharing Policy 1 1 Mar 10, 2013 11:25AM  
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Andrew Taylor (b. 1951) is a British author of mysteries. Born in East Anglia, he attended university at Cambridge before getting an MA in library sciences from University College London. His first novel, Caroline Miniscule (1982), a modern-day treasure hunt starring history student William Dougal, began an eight-book series and won Taylor wide critical acclaim. He has written several other thrill ...more
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