In "Mr Timothy", Louis Bayard penned an exceptional debut novel that imagined the life of one of Dickens' best known characters, Tiny Tim. His second novel, "The Pale Blue Eye" is a worthy successor - a literary masterwork that easily vaults over the high bar of expectations created by the phenomenal success of "Mr Timothy".
"The Pale Blue Eye", at once a richly complex gothic mystery, a psychological thriller and compelling period historical fiction, is a fictionalized re-creation of a brief segment of the life of West Point Academy cadet, horror and sci-fi author Edgar Allan Poe, as a young man in 1830.
Superintendent Thayer, commander of the Academy, engages retired New York City detective, Augustus Landor to investigate the hanging and subsequent mutilation of a cadet. Landor, in turn, recruits cadet Poe to be his "inside" man to sniff around the barracks and the social hangouts of his fellow cadets. "The Pale Blue Eye" is a creepy, well-crafted mystery with plenty of gothic horror moments worthy of the ultimate stature of a character who arguably became the godfather of the entire horror genre.
Bayard has very cleverly told the story from three different points of view - an external narrator and real-time diary style entries from both Landor and Poe. The manner in which Bayard has changed his style of writing for each of the three "narrators" is absolutely fascinating and Poe's sections in particular seem absolutely perfect for the real-life person that we know that Poe will become.
Like many of Poe's mysteries and horror stories, "The Pale Blue Eye" is not built around high speed action or thrills. It's a slow-moving atmospheric, creepy mystery that relies on the quality of its words, its conversations and the depth of its characters.
Read it, enjoy it and smile with utter delight at the ending twist that you'll never see coming!
A richly complex gothic mystery, a psychological thriller, a compelling period historical fiction, THE PALE BLUE EYE is a fictionalized re-creation of a brief segment of the life of West Point Academy cadet, horror and sci-fi author Edgar Allan Poe, as a young man in 1830.
In this interesting but somewhat glacially paced fiction (for much of the tale anyway), Louis Bayard does a yeoman's job of recreating the atmosphere and feel of early 19th century America, right down to its characteristic literary voice. Yet the mystery, itself, is peculiar for most of the way through, being not highly mysterious as one can pretty much guess who the suspicions of retired New York constable Augustus Landor will light on well before they light. More, too much of the tale is taken … more
As 2009 is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe, it's fitting that the interests of several novelists have turned to him. Louis Bayard chose to depict Poe in a little known segment of his life, his tenure as a cadet at West Point. The mystery revolves around the death by hanging of one of Poe's classmates. Retired NYC detective Gus Landor is brought in by the Superintendent to solve the crime, and he enlists the aid of silver-tongued Cadet Poe as his inside informer. As … more
When Gus Landor, a retired constable, is called to West Point to investigate a gruesome crime, he has no idea how his life will be affected by those he meets and the strange turn of events that send an unusual crime into the realm of the bizarre. A young cadet is found hanging, begging the question of suicide because Leroy Fry's legs are still touching the ground in spite of the rope around his neck. To make matters worse, the body is stolen before it can be attended, found … more
Most Poe fans are aware that the poet spent a short time at West Point, before being court-martialed and dismissed. This author's plot takes place during that brief time, and involves Poe in helping a retired New York City detective to solve one murder, which eventually evolves into two. The writing is crisp and the plot moves along quickly. The author has captured as well as possible the unusual nature of Poe, and all of the other main figures are extremely well-drawn. This is an exciting mystery, … more