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 later with the heart surgically removed. Certainly, the officers who have requested Landor's assistance do not want word of this grotesque act to reach the community at large.
Certain restrictions are put on Landor, not the least of which is an order to remain abstinent of spirits until his assignment is completed to satisfaction. This particular requirement will prove impossible for the retired constable, still mourning the loss of his wife and the disappearance of his daughter, Mattie, years earlier. Unable to recover the necessary information without the help of another, Landor requests the aid of a cadet, none other than Edgar Allen Poe. Poe has impressed the inspector in a number of ways: his ability to consume an inordinate amount of liquor without any outward effect; his verse that borders on genius; and a rare talent for placing himself in advantageous situations, gathering pertinent information from the other cadets. In other words, the perfect spy.
Thanks to Poe's machinations and manufactured friendship with an upperclassman, another avenue of interest opens up, taking the case in an entirely new direction. At the same time, Poe loses his heart and his focus to the upperclassman's sister, putting himself in grave danger. The focus on Poe's eccentricities and natural dramatic flair add color to an historical mystery that goes far beyond the ordinary. Landor is a man of many failings, with an inherent curiosity that allows him to exercise the discretion necessary for solving an unusual case, one fraught with suspicion, arcane texts, animal sacrifices and murder. From the rigid military establishment at West Point to the unusual methods employed by Landor and Poe, the conclusion is a shocking revelation of the excesses people resort to rather than accept the inevitable. Luan Gaines.
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
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 … 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
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
An artist/writer, I have traveled the world, walked on the moon and learned the complicated language of humanity, the enormity of the universe... all through the written word. My first passport was a … more
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