cover image The Raven and the Nightingale: A Modern Mystery of Edgar Allen Poe

The Raven and the Nightingale: A Modern Mystery of Edgar Allen Poe

Joanne Dobson / Author Doubleday Books $21.95 (288p) ISBN 978-

In Dobson's new Karen Pelletier mystery (after Quieter Than Sleep and The Northbury Papers), the young English professor again applies the rules of scholarly research to help hunky Lieutenant Piotrowski solve a murder. This time the deceased is ambitious Edgar Allan Poe scholar Elliot Corbin, who has hogged the limelight and perks available in the English department at Enfield, the elite New England college where Karen teaches. Corbin and a crew of others are on hand when Pelletier receives as a gift a huge box of papers and journals belonging to Emmeline Foster, a (fictitious) 19th-century poet who is believed to have committed suicide out of doomed love for the notoriously destructive--and self-destructive--Poe. When one of Emmeline's journals vanishes from Karen's office, the professor suspects that the disappearance has something to do with professional competition. Karen is clear-eyed about her colleagues and about how tough it is to build a career and a reputation in academia; after all, she landed in Enfield after an abusive, poverty-scarred childhood and early marriage. When Corbin turns up dead, however, she learns that the histories and motives of Enfield's English department are darker than she dreamed. Indeed, life mirrors art as Karen links the crime to a mystery in Poe's own life. Unfortunately, it takes more than a good idea to write a riveting murder yarn. Although Dobson gets the details of academia just right, the mystery clues she plants are so obvious that the story feels as hokey as a paint-by-numbers portrait--a failing that will prompt more than one reader to sigh, ""Nevermore."" (Oct.)