Yes, it's a mystery - with multiple gruesome and bloody deaths and murders at its heart - but more than that, it's an exploration of complex and dark characters, human beings....and exploration of the darkside of the psyche. But the good news is: when you reach the ending, the multiple strands of the complex and dark web of characters and motivations that Louis Bayard has woven....pay off supremely, in both surprising and deeply satisfying ways.
This was going to get four stars, right up until twenty pages from the end, at which point it seriously pissed me off. It's a nice little mystery with a hint of the supernatural and lots of cold West Point atmosphere.
Kudos to Louis Bayard for this unique and cleverly crafted murder mystery set in the early days of The US Military Academy at West Point, an unlikely setting, but not as unusual as the casting of Cadet Fourth Class Edgar Allan Poe in a lead role. Poe indeed attended West Point - albeit briefly - a historical fact which the talented Bayard uses to full advantage in spinning a tale that apes Poe's macabre, eerie, surrealist style, while at the same time capturing intrigue and enigma that could pass for Arthur Conan Doyle.
Bayard is up to his usual tricks here, delving into literary history for characters and notions and coming up with a rollicking good time.
The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard is, like the writings of one of his characters, a tale of mystery and imagination. The chief investigator of this mystery/detective novel enlists one Cadet Edgar Allen Poe to assist him in his investigation. Bayard brings Poe to life to a greater extent than he does with any of his other characters. Reading the chapters of Poe's reports to Gus Landor, the chief investigator of this creepy, mysterious case, I couldn't help but think that Bayard was having a lot of fun at Poe's expense. The Pale Blue Eye feels like a guy book. The Pale Blue Eye is fun for anyone who wants to be prompted to read a biography about Poe. I know I want to get one. Considering all that the book has given me to think about, I guess I'm glad I read it.
Fresh off his fine "Mr. Timothy," his look at Dickens' Tiny Tim as an adult (OK, so Tiny Tim wasnt historical, but you get the idea), Bayard threw Edgar Allan Poe into a novel. Whereas "Mr. Timothy" was only superficially connected to "A Christmas Carol," (really, it could have been any down-on-his-luck Englishman of the time) "The Pale Blue Eye" is full-on Poe circa 1830, when he was a cadet at West Point. More people die, Poe falls for the daughter of the West Point doctor, the relationship between Landor and the not-always-truthful Poe takes some twists and turns, and the crime doesnt get much closer to being solved. Bayard's "Poe book" (3.5 stars) isn't quite as fun or as good as his "Tiny Tim" book, but it is strong, and I hope he keeps stories like these coming.
I loved reading the reviews and seeing why people liked this book. It would have been better for me had it all been more like this; "Oh, Leah, let me play!" Screamed Mrs. Marquis.
Exactly like that." Poe and Landor make quite the interesting team, conducting investigations in the dark and on the quiet. Both Poe and Landor discover separately she is subject to the falling disease.
Let me preface this by saying that I'm not an avid reader of mystery novels in their pure "detective" form. I've also read numerous short stories including the "first" detective story, "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" by E.A.Poe. That said, I'm a big fan of a good mystery that really puzzles and gets you pondering. Many will claim that it's too wordy and over the top, but I personally felt it was a fairly good homage to early 19th century literature and to the literature of Poe. The language used was well crafted and flowed wonderfully. The flowery verbosity of Poe was humorous at times and felt a little too constructed at moments. Characterization As I mentioned, the Poe character felt perhaps a bit too stylized and pat, but generally speaking I found him to be a very full and intriguing character. I rather enjoyed Landor's character and had a lot of fun being inside his head for most of the novel. But with my level of mystery reading and my enjoyment of 18th and 19th century literature left me thoroughly enjoying the story line and having a lot of fun with the way it played out. As with any mystery novel, I was playing along with the detective and trying to solve the crime before he did. I really enjoyed the conclusion and found the capstone to the story to be an intriguing and fun ending. Overall I would heartily recommend this book to any fan of a good mystery or of late romantic or gothic era literature from the 18th and 19th centuries. It wasn't much more gruesome than something from a prime time CSI or Law & Order show, but it was definitely a bit over the top considering the rest of the novel.