Beyond Rue Morgue

In Dickens’ classic A Christmas Story, the story begins with the line “Marley was dead, to begin with…” and thus commences a superb and long-retold tale of ghosts and redemption.  “To begin with,” Edgar Allan Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue has one of the most contrived and difficult to accept endings in all of classic storytelling.  Editors Paul Kane and Charles Prepolec have assembled a group of writers to expand on Poe’s story and their collection was published this summer as Beyond Rue Morgue: Further Tales of Edgar Allan Poe’s 1st Detective.

The difficulty in Poe’s Murders is highlighted by the contrast between the confounding ending and the fact that Poe’s detective is so exceptionally brilliant for most of the work and Poe’s writing so authoritative.  Included as the first entry in Kane and Prepolec’s new anthology is Poe’s original story, allowing new readers to be impressed with–and older readers to revisit–those gruesome (fictional) murders that took place in a Paris flat in the 1840s.  The flat appeared locked from the inside, the murders required inhuman strength, and the crime leaves no possible solution; leaving the reader to hang on every word to learn how this pre-Sherlock Holmes genius-detective named Chevalier C. Auguste Dupin will unravel the mystery and catch the murderer.  And then the murderer turns out to be… an escaped, deranged… orangutan.  Thud.

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