As violent tensions escalate between nativists and recent Irish immigrants, Edgar Allan Poe’s fears for the safety of his wife, Virginia, and mother-in-law, Muddy, are compounded when he receives a parcel of mummified bird parts. Has his nemesis returned to settle an old score?
Just as odd is the arrival of Helena Loddiges, a young heiress who demands Poe’s help to discover why her lover died at the city’s docks on his return from an expedition to Peru. Poe is skeptical of her claims of having received messages from birds—and visitations from her lover’s ghost—but when Miss Loddiges is kidnapped, he and his friend C. Auguste Dupin must unravel a mystery involving old enemies, lost soul-mates, ornithomancy, and the legendary jewel of Peru.
Edgar Allan Poe once again plays detective in Street's excellent sequel to 2016's Edgar Allan Poe and the London Monster. In 1844, Poe is living in Philadelphia, where he receives a package containing three dismembered crows. Although the disturbing parcel was sent anonymously, Poe is certain that it came from his London nemesis, George Rhynwick Williams. His suspicions increase when Williams's lover, Rowena Fontaine, turns up in town under another name. Poe becomes more fearful after two more packages are delivered and one's contents suggest that C. Auguste Dupin, his partner in detection, may also be at risk. Meanwhile, Helena Loddiges, a woman who hired Poe to edit an ornithology book for her, entreats him to solve the murders of her father's bird collector, Andrew Mathews, and Andrew's son, Jeremiah. Jeremiah has appeared to her in a vision and asked her a cryptic question: "Where is the Jewel?" Street enhances the Grand Guignol plot with a plausible and empathetic portrayal of her lead.)