Murders in the Rue Morgue and Other Stories by Edgar Allan Poe

October 3, 2011

Summary: This is an audiobook collection of Edgar Allan Poe short stories and poetry, including “Murders in the Rue Morgue,” “The Purloined Letter,” “The Thousand-and-Second Night of Scheherazade,” “A Descent into the Maelstrom,” “The Raven,” and “The Masque of the Red Death.” All works are read by David Case.

“Murders in the Rue Morgue” is widely held to be the first detective story, though Poe called it a work of “ratiocination.” This locked roomy mystery features literature’s first detective, C. Auguste Dupin (though he is never referred to as such), who solves the crime based on clues that the incompetent Paris police force overlook.

“The Purloined Letter” is another Dupin mystery; “The Thousand-and-Second Night of Scheherazade” imagines the storyteller of the 1001 Arabian Nights continuing her tales for another evening; “A Descent into the Maelstrom” is the story of a man who survives a hurricane and whirlpool while out to sea; “The Raven” is about a grieving lover’s waning sanity; and “The Masque of the Red Death” is a horror story about a group of nobles who try to wait out a plague by hiding in a castle.

Warning: Spoilers below!

Liked:

  • Of course I’d heard of “Murders in the Rue Morgue” before, but this was the very first time I ever read (or, more accurately, listened to) it. It was nice to finally get a look at the first detective story ever written — and to disabuse myself of the notion that the murders took place in a morgue called Rue! (Now I know Rue Morgue is a fictional street in Paris. Duh.)
  • “The Raven” is one of my favorite poems of all time. I know its true literary merit is constantly being debated, but I think the rhyme scheme is actually pretty clever and a bit complicated if you really analyze it. I always prefer rhyming poetry anyway, so it’s no wonder I love this one.

Disliked:

  • I thought the solution to the Rue Morgue murders was rather far-fetched. An escaped orangutan? Really??? That was underwhelming, to say the least. Plus, there’s the whole thing about the reader not having a fair shot as solving the crime since there was zero indication at all that an orangutan might be involved. Sigh.
  • “The Thousand-and-Second Night of Scheherazade” and “A Descent into the Maelstrom” were incredibly boring to me. I barely paid attention to those and couldn’t figure out why they were included in this story collection. I guess there’s a reason these two pieces are hardly mentioned when talking about Poe’s works.

Rating:

I wasn’t all that entertained by Murders in the Rue Morgue and Other Stories, and think the collection deserves only 2 stars if rated on entertainment merit alone. But I feel compelled to acknowledge the fact that Poe launched an entire genre — one that I love today — and for that reason, bump up my rating to 3 stars out of 5.

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