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The Poe Shadow

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3.12  ·  Rating details ·  7,307 ratings  ·  915 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
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Paperback, 400 pages
Published July 10th 2007 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 2006)
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Average rating 3.12  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,307 ratings  ·  915 reviews


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Brooke
Jul 23, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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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
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James
Mar 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It seems that I am outnumbered here in the reviews. I really enjoyed this book a lot.

Many readers are commenting that The Poe Shadow is not as good as The Dante Club. Sure, a serial killer on the loose in Boston is compelling stuff. Graphic murder and mayhem trumps an intellectual mystery in Baltimore. While reading The Poe Shadow, I tried to avoid comparing the two works, as each deserves recognition on its own terms.

Popular sentiment is that Quentin Clark, the protagonist, is quite a knob.
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Gina
May 22, 2008 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
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Catherine Bracy
Sep 06, 2007 added it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 29, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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,
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Rose
Dec 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Ed Mestre
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
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Terese
Jun 25, 2014 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
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Jaret
Dec 08, 2014 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
Vanessa
Jul 10, 2013 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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Scott Rhee
Jul 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
On Oct. 7, 1849, a little-known poet and author of strange gothic tales died in a Baltimore hospital. He had been found, disheveled and injured, in an alleyway. After his death, a small funeral was held at a small Baltimore Presbyterian church. A total of four people attended.

The man's name was Edgar Allan Poe.

The true events leading to the mysterious death of Edgar Allan Poe remain a mystery to this day. No one knows what he was doing in Baltimore, as he was supposed to be in New York at the
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Müsli
May 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good book.
I couldn't put it down
Neil Cochrane
Jun 27, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Devon
May 04, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Eduardo
I could suffer this novel up to page 130, and then I gave up: Pearl has a very bewildering and baffling style. Maybe in a Spanish translation it'll be digestible.
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
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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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GypsyBookworm
Dec 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Tim Kimber
Mar 28, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Having read The Dante Club with relish, I settled into The Poe Shadow with expectations of gruesome murders, conspiracy and learned men falling upon a mystery with all the pomp and refinement of a Dickensian Sherlock Holmes.

Alas, though I enjoyed the setup, the second act in Paris irreparably undermines the rest of the story. Aside from glacial pacing, it sets up a flawed conceit – that the protagonist would care who discovers the truth behind Poe's final days, and wouldn't be grateful both the
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Katherine
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
Julie Rogers
Mar 19, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Had to bail on this one...
I just can’t get into this one. It’s a mystery about Poe’s death with a “detective” who wants to be like the detectives in Poe’s stories, & this author is doing a bad impersonation of Poe’s style. It just all feels so overblown & overdone, & I just don’t have time for that. His other work is higher rated, so maybe I’ll give it a shot at some point.
Jenny
Aug 03, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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".
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
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 -
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Becky Wright
I'm going for a tentative 3 stars, I wanted to give this more...but I just couldn't finish it, which is unlike me.

It was nothing to do with the writing, it's well crafted and researched, the author certainly has a district voice, and the story plot had me hooked straight from the cover. Unformataly, it just didn't grab me enough much past the first hundred pages with were hard going. Though I wish it had, I wanted to love it.

It may just be me. I seem to have a personal issue with male writers of
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Chad
Mar 11, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Poe Shadow was an interesting read. I found the concept of the investigation to be compelling and the characters dynamic and interesting. I was impressed with the historical accuracy of the descriptions of the period, it made it very easy to insert myself into the setting right alongside the characters.

My one issue with The Poe Shadow was with the ending. It seemed like Pearl needed to fulfill a length requirement before finishing. Right when it seemed like things were sufficiently wrapped
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Keith Taylor
I didn't love this book, but I did admire the ambition of it. And Pearl's other books, trying to make a popular audience for all the old figures of literature. But the best thing about this book is that it took me back to a couple of Poe stories -- which were great! Here's a thing I wrote:

https://annarborobserver.com/articles...
Sarah Sammis
Aug 17, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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Goodreads Librari...: Please add page count 2 13 Oct 26, 2016 05:23AM  
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2015 Reading Chal...: The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl 2 13 Mar 11, 2015 06:17PM  
Proper funeral for Edgar Allan Poe 1 25 Oct 11, 2009 02:26AM  

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Note from the author:Hi everyone. My newest novel is The Dante Chamber, out May 29, 2018. It's a follow-up to my debut novel, The Dante Club, but you do not have to read one before the other, each stands on its own two feet. Hope you'll enjoy any of books you choose to pick up.

Matthew Pearl's novels have been international and New York Times bestsellers translated into more than 30 languages. His
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