cover image Edgar Allan Poe and the Empire of the Dead

Edgar Allan Poe and the Empire of the Dead

Karen Lee Street. Pegasus Crime, $25.95 (352p) ISBN 978-1-64313-422-2

The ominous prologue of the terrific concluding volume of Street’s Poe trilogy (after 2018’s Edgar Allan Poe and the Jewel of Peru) takes place in Baltimore in October 1849, just days before the real Poe died. Poe has a vision of his dead wife and an apothecary dispensing poison, which reveals the truth about how he “had finally been murdered and by whom.” Flash back to June. The writer gets a letter from his friend C. Auguste Dupin, entreating him to come to Paris. Dupin needs his help tracking down Ernest Valdemar, who’s responsible for sending Dupin’s grandparents to the guillotine during the French Revolution. When the two friends meet, Dupin tells Poe he’s sure Valdemar forged the letter and had reason to lure Poe to Paris. Valdemar appears to be working with Poe’s nemesis, George Reynolds, whose father was falsely imprisoned for the assaults of more than 50 women that were committed by Poe’s maternal grandparents decades earlier. Street fulfills the promise of the tantalizing opening with a twisty and nail-biting plot. Fans of other superior fictional treatments of Poe will be enthralled. Agent: Oli Munson, A.M. Heath (U.K.). (May)