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“Shockingly clever and devoutly unsentimental . . . reads like a lost classic. Bayard reinvigorates historical fiction.” — New York Times Book Review
An ingenious tale of murder and revenge at West Point, featuring a retired detective and a young cadet named Edgar Allan Poe—from the author of Courting Mr. Lincoln.
At West Point Academy in 1830, the calm of an October evening is shattered by the discovery of a young cadet's body swinging from a rope. The next morning, an even greater horror comes to light. Someone has removed the dead man's heart.
Augustus Landor—who acquired some renown in his years as a New York City police detective—is called in to discreetly investigate. It's a baffling case Landor must pursue in secret, for the scandal could do irreparable damage to the fledgling institution. But he finds help from an unexpected ally—a moody, young cadet with a penchant for drink, two volumes of poetry to his name, and a murky past that changes from telling to telling.
The strange and haunted Southern poet, for whom Landor develops a fatherly affection, is named Edgar Allan Poe.
Bayard follows Mr. Timothy (2003), which brilliantly imagined the adult life of Dickens's Tiny Tim, with another tour-de-force, an intense and gripping novel set during Edgar Allan Poe's brief time as a West Point cadet. In 1830, retired New York City detective Gus Landor is living a quiet life at his Hudson Valley cottage, tormented by an unspecified personal sorrow, when Superintendent Thayer summons him to West Point to investigate the hanging and subsequent mutilation of a cadet. Poe aids Landor by serving as an inside source into the closed world of the academy, though Poe's personal involvement with a suspect's sister complicates their work. But the pair find themselves helpless to prevent further outrages; the removal of the victims' hearts suggests that a satanic cult might be at work. This beautifully crafted thriller stands head and shoulders above other recent efforts to fictionalize Poe. 3-city author tour.
First book I have read by Bayard and thoroughly enjoyable historical fiction...EAF
Stunning & Clever
At one point, Poe says (paraphrasing), “I went back and checked all of my assumptions.” The reader should do the same! I’m going to read the beginning again to see what I may have missed. I liked reading this book on my iPad so I could look up words I didn’t know. Louis is very smart and uses all the best words.
The Pale Blue Eye
I have never written a review before, but I feel compelled to for this book. I have always been a fan of Poe's and now a fan of yours. I was excited to read this and you did not fail.
I never guessed as they say "who did it" and I usually do,I live in the Hudson Valley region although a little south of West Point. The premise on the story line was so intriguing and you delivered
Mr. Bayard. The atmosphere, the horror, the characters, the settings, the mystery all could have been Poe himself.
Your writing technique was and is pure joy. It is so well written, your prose and the twists and turns you employed was utterly satisfying. I am anxious to read your other works and will be starting on them. Thank you.