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Review: The Pale Blue Eye, by Louis Bayard

In The Pale Blue Eye, Augustus Landor, formerly of the New York City police force, is living near West Point, when he’s called in to investigate the death of a cadet. Having strangled to death, the cadet’s heart was later removed. Landor soon comes across a young cadet named Edgar Allan Poe (he would only have been about 20 or 21 in 1830, the year this novel takes place), and enlists him to assist in the investigation. The two men find a complicated group of suspects, which leads them to believe that a satanic cult is involved.

So often, inserting a real historical person into fiction can be a recipe for disaster. Not so in this book. Bayard’s Poe is real, likeable, and convincing. He even gets some say in the narrative himself; which although I thought was a nice touch, got a little too sentimental and ho-hum when Poe began to talk about his feelings for a suspect’s sister. The ending of the novel is more than slightly bizarre, but nonetheless, this book is wonderful psychological suspense—especially since nobody is above suspicion, even Poe. Although I preferred The Black Tower, The Pale Blue Eye was an extremely likeable novel. Louis Bayard is one terrific writer.

Comments

Literary Feline said…
I am really looking forward to reading this one. Poe is such an interesting literary figure and that was what first drew my attention to the novel. I do know what you mean about it being a recipe for disaster to use a real life person in a novel. It's good to know that it worked in this case. Thank you for the great review.
Jordan said…
Glad to hear it! This is one of those books I've kind of considered reading, but wondered if it was really worth it. I'm convinced!
Sounds like an interesting read. I do have fondness for Poe.
nbbaker1102 said…
This is good timing. I just visited Poe's grave over the weekend and became a little more interested. Maybe I'll have to check this one out.

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2015 Reading

January
1. The Vanishing Witch, by Karen Maitland
2. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
3. Texts From Jane Eyre, by Mallory Ortberg
4. Brighton Rock, by Graham Green
5. Brat Farrar, by Josephine Tey
6. Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert
7. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
8. A Movable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway
9. A Room of One's Own, by Virginia Woolf
10. Other Voices, Other Rooms, by Truman Capote
11. Maggie-Now, by Betty Smith

February
1. Middlemarch, by George Eliot
2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
3. Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate, by Cynthia Lee
4. Music For Chameleons, by Truman Capote
5. Peyton Place, by Grace Metalious
6. Unrequited, by Lisa Phillips
7. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
8. A Lost Lady, by Willa Cather

March
1. Persuasion, by Jane Austen
2. Love With a Chance of Drowning, by Torre DeRoche
3. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
4. Miss Buncle's Book, by DE Stevenson
5. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garc…