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The Pale Blue Eye: A Novel

by

The Pale Blue Eye: A Novel Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

From the critically acclaimed author of Mr. Timothy comes an ingenious tale of murder and revenge, featuring a retired New York City detective and a young cadet named Edgar Allan Poe.

At West Point Academy in 1830, the calm of an October evening is shattered by the discovery of a young cadet's body swinging from a rope just off the parade grounds. An apparent suicide is not unheard of in a harsh regimen like West Point's, but the next morning, an even greater horror comes to light. Someone has stolen into the room where the body lay and removed the heart.

At a loss for answers and desperate to avoid any negative publicity, the Academy calls on the services of a local civilian, Augustus Landor, a former police detective who acquired some renown during his years in New York City before retiring to the Hudson Highlands for his health. Now a widower, and restless in his seclusion, Landor agrees to take on the case. As he questions the dead man's acquaintances, he finds an eager assistant in a moody, intriguing young cadet with a penchant for drink, two volumes of poetry to his name, and a murky past that changes from telling to telling. The cadet's name? Edgar Allan Poe.

Impressed with Poe's astute powers of observation, Landor is convinced that the poet may prove useful — if he can stay sober long enough to put his keen reasoning skills to the task. Working in close contact, the two men — separated by years but alike in intelligence — develop a surprisingly deep rapport as their investigation takes them into a hidden world of secret societies, ritual sacrifices, and more bodies. Soon, however, the macabre murders and Landor's own buried secrets threaten to tear the two men and their newly formed friendship apart.

A rich tapestry of fine prose and intricately detailed characters, The Pale Blue Eye transports readers into a labyrinth of the unknown that will leave them guessing until the very end.

Review:

"These two new novels about Edgar Allan Poe's curious life both come draped with the necessary — nay mandatory — mystery, but their approaches could not be more different. In 'The Pale Blue Eye,' by Louis Bayard, Poe is an impassioned genius with the world ahead of him; in 'The Poe Shadow,' by Matthew Pearl, he is the dishonored dead.

'The Pale Blue Eye' invites us to a dull, dark... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"[A]nother literary tour de force....At novel's end, the reader may want to start again from the beginning." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

Review:

"[T]his period mystery moves methodically to the suspects, the motives, and the clues that twist and turn like the Hudson itself. The novel is further charmed by a skillful and lyrical writing style and the intrigue of West Point, now and then." Library Journal

Review:

"Louis Bayard...turns from Charles Dickens to Edgar Allan Poe with debonair wit....[S]ucceed[s] by emulating the suspense structure of Poe's exquisitely lurid short stories and...adding the romanticism of Poe's lyric poetry. (Grade: B+)" Entertainment Weekly

Review:

"Louis Bayard is a writer of remarkable gifts: for language, for imagination, for that mysterious admixture of audacity and craftsmanship that signals a major talent in the making." Joyce Carol Oates

Review:

"A first-rate thriller with language that sparkles on the page." Dustin Thomason, co-author of The Rule of Four

Review:

"Mr. Bayard has a gift for Poe mimicry and, as well, for constructing a labyrinthine plot. The story's climax is a parody of author Poe's nightmarish flourishes." Dallas Morning News

Synopsis:

A brilliant new Gothic thriller from the acclaimed author of The Ghost Writer and The Seance.

Synopsis:

A brilliant new Gothic thriller from the acclaimed author of The Ghost Writer and The Seance

Confused and disoriented, Georgina Ferrars awakens in a small room in Tregannon House, a private asylum in a remote corner of England. She has no memory of the past few weeks. The doctor, Maynard Straker, tells her that she admitted herself under the name Lucy Ashton the day before, then suffered a seizure. When she insists he has mistaken her for someone else, Dr. Straker sends a telegram to her uncle, who replies that Georgina Ferrars is at home with him in London: “Your patient must be an imposter.”

Suddenly her voluntary confinement becomes involuntary. Who is the woman in her uncles house? And what has become of her two most precious possessions, a dragonfly pin left to her by her mother and a writing case containing her journal, the only record of those missing weeks? Georginas perilous quest to free herself takes us from a cliffside cottage on the Isle of Wight to the secret passages of Tregannon House and into a web of hidden family ties on which her survival depends.

Another delicious read from the author praised by Ruth Rendell as having “a gift for creating suspense, apparently effortlessly, as if it belongs in the nature of fiction.”

Synopsis:

From the critically acclaimed author of Mr. Timothy comes an ingenious tale of murder and revenge, featuring a retired New York City detective and a young cadet named Edgar Allan Poe.

At West Point Academy in 1830, the calm of an October evening is shattered by the discovery of a young cadet's body swinging from a rope just off the parade grounds. An apparent suicide is not unheard of in a harsh regimen like West Point's, but the next morning, an even greater horror comes to light. Someone has stolen into the room where the body lay and removed the heart.

At a loss for answers and desperate to avoid any negative publicity, the Academy calls on the services of a local civilian, Augustus Landor, a former police detective who acquired some renown during his years in New York City before retiring to the Hudson Highlands for his health. Now a widower, and restless in his seclusion, Landor agrees to take on the case. As he questions the dead man's acquaintances, he finds an eager assistant in a moody, intriguing young cadet with a penchant for drink, two volumes of poetry to his name, and a murky past that changes from telling to telling. The cadet's name? Edgar Allan Poe.

Impressed with Poe's astute powers of observation, Landor is convinced that the poet may prove useful—if he can stay sober long enough to put his keen reasoning skills to the task. Working in close contact, the two men—separated by years but alike in intelligence—develop a surprisingly deep rapport as their investigation takes them into a hidden world of secret societies, ritual sacrifices, and more bodies. Soon, however, the macabre murders and Landor's own buried secrets threaten to tear the two men and their newly formed friendship apart.

A rich tapestry of fine prose and intricately detailed characters, The Pale Blue Eye transports readers into a labyrinth of the unknown that will leave them guessing until the very end.

About the Author

Louis Bayard is the author of Mr. Timothy, a New York Times Notable Book, which the Washington Post called "clever...sly and wonderful." A writer and book reviewer, whose work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and on Nerve.com and Salon.com, among others, Bayard lives in Washington, D.C.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

nancorbett, November 16, 2006 (view all comments by nancorbett)
The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard is, like the writings of one of his characters, a tale of mystery and imagination. Set at West Point in the 19th Century, the novel has all the flavor and ambiance befitting such a setting. I love reading books that fictionalize real people. Bayard fictionalizes the leadership of West Point at that time, as well as one of the most eccentric writers in American history.

The chief investigator of this mystery/detective novel enlists one Cadet Edgar Allen Poe to assist him in his investigation. Bayard brings Poe to life to a greater extent than he does with any of his other characters. Reading the chapters of Poe's reports to Gus Landor, the chief investigator of this creepy, mysterious case, I couldn't help but think that Bayard was having a lot of fun at Poe's expense. Bayard does an excellent job of writing Poe's reports to Landor in a tongue-in-cheek faux-Poe.

Even though the story line has every creepy element conceivable, mysterious murders, hearts stolen from corpses, villains stealing through the darkness in cloaks, mysterious strangers, disappearing cadets and a graveyard of other things, whenever Poe walked off the page, it all turned dull. Bayard tried to make his protagonist interesting. Gus Landor, an ex-New York detective with a mysterious past (I'm getting tired of using the word mysterious) and a bend toward alcoholism leads the investigation. Throughout the book, Landor looked up at me from the page, wanting me to care about him. I just couldn't. He wasn't likeable or interesting.

The Pale Blue Eye feels like a guy book. If we have Chick-Lit, here is an example of Dick-Lit. Distinctive brown cover, technical tools on the cover, and mahogany tones and pipe smoke throughout. All of the women characters are difficult to bring into focus. They're silly little things, panting for attention and totally oblivious about how trivial they are. Even the one with the biggest part to play didn't place a shred of passion on the side of sanity. Landor has a cookie-cutter girl friend, a barmaid who is sleeping with scores of others. She is there so that we can have bosoms swaying to the rhythm of pot scrubbing and because we need someone who looks at him with distain and tells him to quit the case because it's killing him.

And then there's the end. Don't worry. I won't give it away. But I will tell you that there's a twist. And it's not foreshadowed to an extent where it is warranted. In other words, Bayard broke the cardinal rule of novel writing. I felt manipulated. The twist comes from so far out of the court that I was beginning to wonder if I'd get through the book without having aliens land and tell us they were just there to serve man.

But then there's Poe. He plays his part unflinchingly. The Pale Blue Eye is fun for anyone who wants to be prompted to read a biography about Poe. I know I want to get one. The details Bayard supplies about him are crisp, humorous and fascinating. Was he ever a cadet at West Point? Did he dedicate his first book of poems to the Academy because he'd manipulated the cadets into buying a copy? Considering all that the book has given me to think about, I guess I'm glad I read it. But I'm even more glad that it's over.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(7 of 13 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780060733971
Author:
Bayard, Louis
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Author:
Harwood, John
Author:
by Louis Bayard
Subject:
New york (state)
Subject:
Police
Subject:
Mystery & Detective - General
Subject:
Mystery & Detective - Historical
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Suspense
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st
Edition Description:
Cloth
Publication Date:
May 23, 2006
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
from 3 to 7
Language:
English
Pages:
272
Dimensions:
9 x 6 x 1.04 in 0.98 lb
Age Level:
from 8 to 12

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Related Subjects

Featured Titles » Literature
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
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Fiction and Poetry » Mystery » Historical

The Pale Blue Eye: A Novel Sale Hardcover
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$6.98 In Stock
Product details 272 pages HarperCollins Publishers - English 9780060733971 Reviews:
"Review" by , "[A]nother literary tour de force....At novel's end, the reader may want to start again from the beginning."
"Review" by , "[T]his period mystery moves methodically to the suspects, the motives, and the clues that twist and turn like the Hudson itself. The novel is further charmed by a skillful and lyrical writing style and the intrigue of West Point, now and then."
"Review" by , "Louis Bayard...turns from Charles Dickens to Edgar Allan Poe with debonair wit....[S]ucceed[s] by emulating the suspense structure of Poe's exquisitely lurid short stories and...adding the romanticism of Poe's lyric poetry. (Grade: B+)"
"Review" by , "Louis Bayard is a writer of remarkable gifts: for language, for imagination, for that mysterious admixture of audacity and craftsmanship that signals a major talent in the making."
"Review" by , "A first-rate thriller with language that sparkles on the page."
"Review" by , "Mr. Bayard has a gift for Poe mimicry and, as well, for constructing a labyrinthine plot. The story's climax is a parody of author Poe's nightmarish flourishes."
"Synopsis" by ,
A brilliant new Gothic thriller from the acclaimed author of The Ghost Writer and The Seance.
"Synopsis" by ,
A brilliant new Gothic thriller from the acclaimed author of The Ghost Writer and The Seance

Confused and disoriented, Georgina Ferrars awakens in a small room in Tregannon House, a private asylum in a remote corner of England. She has no memory of the past few weeks. The doctor, Maynard Straker, tells her that she admitted herself under the name Lucy Ashton the day before, then suffered a seizure. When she insists he has mistaken her for someone else, Dr. Straker sends a telegram to her uncle, who replies that Georgina Ferrars is at home with him in London: “Your patient must be an imposter.”

Suddenly her voluntary confinement becomes involuntary. Who is the woman in her uncles house? And what has become of her two most precious possessions, a dragonfly pin left to her by her mother and a writing case containing her journal, the only record of those missing weeks? Georginas perilous quest to free herself takes us from a cliffside cottage on the Isle of Wight to the secret passages of Tregannon House and into a web of hidden family ties on which her survival depends.

Another delicious read from the author praised by Ruth Rendell as having “a gift for creating suspense, apparently effortlessly, as if it belongs in the nature of fiction.”

"Synopsis" by , From the critically acclaimed author of Mr. Timothy comes an ingenious tale of murder and revenge, featuring a retired New York City detective and a young cadet named Edgar Allan Poe.

At West Point Academy in 1830, the calm of an October evening is shattered by the discovery of a young cadet's body swinging from a rope just off the parade grounds. An apparent suicide is not unheard of in a harsh regimen like West Point's, but the next morning, an even greater horror comes to light. Someone has stolen into the room where the body lay and removed the heart.

At a loss for answers and desperate to avoid any negative publicity, the Academy calls on the services of a local civilian, Augustus Landor, a former police detective who acquired some renown during his years in New York City before retiring to the Hudson Highlands for his health. Now a widower, and restless in his seclusion, Landor agrees to take on the case. As he questions the dead man's acquaintances, he finds an eager assistant in a moody, intriguing young cadet with a penchant for drink, two volumes of poetry to his name, and a murky past that changes from telling to telling. The cadet's name? Edgar Allan Poe.

Impressed with Poe's astute powers of observation, Landor is convinced that the poet may prove useful—if he can stay sober long enough to put his keen reasoning skills to the task. Working in close contact, the two men—separated by years but alike in intelligence—develop a surprisingly deep rapport as their investigation takes them into a hidden world of secret societies, ritual sacrifices, and more bodies. Soon, however, the macabre murders and Landor's own buried secrets threaten to tear the two men and their newly formed friendship apart.

A rich tapestry of fine prose and intricately detailed characters, The Pale Blue Eye transports readers into a labyrinth of the unknown that will leave them guessing until the very end.

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