Beyond Rue Morgue: Further Tales of Edgar Allan Poe's 1st Detective by Paul Kane and Charles Prepolec (Editors)
|Beyond Rue Morgue: Further Tales of Edgar Allan Poe's 1st Detective by Paul Kane and Charles Prepolec (Editors)|
|Reviewer: Steve Shayler|
|Summary: A collection of short stories based on Edgar Allan Poe’s seminal detective, ranging from those that are faithful to the character to those that are fantastical.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 332||Date: July 2013|
|Publisher: Titan Books|
C. Auguste Dupin is often regarded as the first fictional detective and at the very least Edgar Allan Poe’s character was the blueprint for many sleuths to come, most notably Sherlock Holmes. Dupin is an eccentric genius from Paris whose use of logic and deduction aid the police on their most baffling cases. The characters literary debut was in the short story The Murders in the Rue Morgue in 1841 and between 1842 and 1844 Poe wrote two more short stories about Dupin and his exploits. Beyond Rue Morgue contains nine stories (in addition to the original Poe tale) by various authors and gives many different takes on the same character or influenced by him. From samurai assassins and the apocalypse to an agoraphobic distant relative of Dupin attempting to solve a murder without even leaving her home; the different writers all take the intriguing character to places we wouldn’t expect and the creativity of all keeps the character fresh from story to story.
As with most anthologies this can be a bit of a mixed bag, but also as an anthology it has the benefit of containing something for everyone. The stories are varied and take place in different time scales with some detailing further exploits of Dupin himself and some of modern day relatives of the great detective. There are tales that stay very true to the character and Poe’s version of him and others that take the eccentric genius aspect and build horror or fantasy stories around that which at times works really well and others feels an uncomfortable match.
I was eager to read certain authors, such as Mike Carey, Joe R Lansdale and Clive Barker’s take on the character as I have enjoyed other books by them, and in particular I thought Lansdale would create an interesting story. The Carey and Barker submissions were well written detective stories in a similar (but more accessible) vein to the original stories and they both had strong plots that were exciting to read. The Lansdale offering takes a completely different route and is a bit of a Poe and Lovecraft crossover which is enjoyable to read but does not feel at all right for the character; Dupin the epitome of logic, sense and reason, now easily accepting magic and the supernatural is just too large a leap for me. Within this collection there are others that contain occult, supernatural and even steam-punk elements that work to varying degrees; some of these star a distant relative of Poe’s detective and this certainly helps the fantastical fit the character better.
Without going into too much detail about each actual case, I can say that there are meetings of style and characters that are fresh and a perfect match and those that don’t sit right. The Poe and Lovecraft story didn’t feel quite right and one following Dupin’s grandson who is an Indiana Jones-style character really didn’t work for me, but a Dupin and Holmes meeting of minds was brilliant. This story by Stephen Volk was narrated by a young Sherlock Holmes with an ageing Dupin as his mentor, the concept really works with the characters' historical influences being incorporated into a story. There are plenty of nods to aspects of Holmes that exist within Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s work and the story as a whole feels as though it could easily fit into the timeline of both characters perfectly.
Almost all of the stories are written in the style which Poe used and so greatly influenced the Holmes books, with the narrator being a friend, sidekick or person whisked away by the eccentric mastermind that is Dupin. This is clearly a formula which works and these additions to the collection tend to be the ones that are the most entertaining to read, as we can be as baffled by the genius as the narrator is.
This is a fun collection of stories that are all different enough to remain fresh and interesting throughout and although a couple of the tales were not to my taste they would probably work well in another collection. Some of the writers have created further exploits of Dupin that could fit brilliantly with what little has already been written, and other writers completely new takes on, or influenced by, the character which are innovative, exciting and memorable. An entertaining read with a little something for everyone, Beyond Rue Morgue is good but there is a little too much chaff in with the wheat to rate it much higher.
For an interesting graphic novel take on some of Poe’s masterpieces try Eye Classics: Nevermore – A Graphic Anthology of Edgar Allan Poe’s Short Stories.
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You can read more book reviews or buy Beyond Rue Morgue: Further Tales of Edgar Allan Poe's 1st Detective by Paul Kane and Charles Prepolec (Editors) at Amazon.com.
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