Horror, madness, violence and the dark forces hidden in humanity abound in this tale of the bloody, brutal and baffling murder of a mother and daughter in Paris.
I ended last year by reading a series of short stories in order to hit my Goodreads goal of 100 books and I really enjoyed the experience. It made me pick up stories that I would never otherwise have read such as The Walk Up Nameless Ridge and which have taught me things I would never have known, such as the loss of Texas Tower 4 in Safety Tips for Living Alone which is a fascinating and moving story that I would highly recommend to everyone. One of the stories I read was Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe, which i enjoyed, so I decided to kick off my Goodreads Challenge for 2018 in the same way with The Murders in the Rue Morgue.
Well, this is a very different book to The Fall of the House of Usher. It starts off oddly, with a discourse on the virtues of an analytical mind. The language is dense and hard to navigate and I have to say that I did not enjoy the first few pages of the story at all but I was determined to persevere (I’m stubborn like that!)
We are then introduced to the main character, Auguste Dupin, and the way his brain works – deducing what his companion is thinking from a few small, obscure clues which I felt was so far-fetched as to almost ludicrous.
The gentleman are then drawn to a case in the Paris paper involving two gruesome, violent and seemingly unsolvable murders in the Rue Morgue which lead them to trying to solve a classic ‘locked room’ mystery. They do eventually reach a conclusion, which is a crazy ending in itself, and all is neatly tied up hopefully to the reader’s satisfaction.
This story requires a lot of effort to read, the resolution asks for a huge suspension of disbelief and I cannot say that it was one of the best stories I have read or that I would rush to read it again. However, this story is hailed is one of the earliest detective stories, and is a clear fore-runner to Sherlock Holmes and so is a must-read for anyone who enjoys that genre and wants to read the gamut of stories. I also would not let it put you off reading any more of Poe’s work. I thoroughly enjoyed The Fall of the House of Usher and will definitely be exploring more of his work, as it is interesting and very different to my usual choices.
A copy of The Murders in the Rue Morgue can be purchased here.
About the Author
Edgar Allan Poe (1809-49) was born in Boston and orphaned at an early age. Taken in by a couple from Richmond, Virginia, he spent a semester at the University of Virginia but could not afford to stay longer. After joining the Army and matriculating as a cadet, he started his literary career with the anonymous publication of Tamerlane and Other Poems, before working as a literary critic. His life was dotted with scandals, such as purposefully getting himself court-martialled to ensure dismissal from the Army, being discharged from his job at the Southern Literary Messenger in Richmond after being found drunk by his boss, and secretly marrying his thirteen-year-old cousin Virginia (listed twenty-one on the marriage certificate). His work took him to both New York City and Baltimore, where he died at the age of forty, two years after Virginia.