Not Quite Dead

John MacLachlan Gray, Author . St. Martin's Minotaur $24.95 (295p) ISBN 978-0-312-37471-6

Canadian author Gray (The Fiend in Human ) joins the growing ranks of novelists using Edgar Allan Poe as a fictional protagonist, but despite flashes of brilliance—especially in the portrayal of the corrupt Philadelphia of the period—the book falls short of the standard set, for example, by Louis Bayard's The Pale Blue Eye (2006). The first-person narrative of Baltimore doctor William Chivers, a childhood friend of Poe, alternates with the third-person account of Irish rabble-rouser Finn Devlin. Dr. Chivers, who attends the famous author after his collapse in 1849 that in real life led to his demise, agrees to help Poe evade his enemies by colluding in a scheme to fake his death. The plot thickens after Devlin slaughters Charles Dickens's U.S. publisher in a manner reminiscent of one of Poe's tales and later kidnaps Dickens, who's on tour in America. Poe fans may find his prolonged absence from the action not compensated for by the extended portrayal of the tormented Chivers. Still, Gray does a fine job of evoking his mid–19th-century milieu. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 09/17/2007
Release date: 11/01/2007
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-1-4299-7191-1
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