Recognize this guy — a classic crime author born to struggling actors in the early 1800s? I’d give you three guesses, but his name is in the title.
While Lon and I are busy with our works-in-progress including a short story Tom Stone: A Deadly Path and Book 4 in our Tom Stone novels, we’re going to keep the blog updated by focusing the first week of the month on Classic Crime Writers. We don’t have a specific order so feel free to suggest authors. But, Edgar Allen Poe, born in 1809, came to mind for me. I always thought he lived much later, like the late 1890s.
He was “the first writer of international stature to emerge from the US,” as noted in a write-up in the Guardian during his bicentenary. His stories and works have enjoyed a timelessness, evolving into various media like The Fall of the House of Usher.
Poe produced quality work, which is why the Edgar Allen Poe Society of Baltimore says we can’t get enough of him:
One reason Poe is read so widely is that there is something in his writings for everyone. His works span the range of human emotions — joy, passion, hope, rage, despair and, of course, fear. Also, he appeals to us on many different levels. His superb control of technique is often the most obvious and the most superficial level, one which the majority of Poe’s readers unfortunately never seem to get beyond.
To me, as I remember the little Edgar Allen Poe that I’ve read, his writings have a menacing quiet–like someone tip-toeing through a dark house, afraid of what’s around the next corner.
Poe wanted an audience for his stories and poetry and had an entrepreneurial side to him. The Poe Museum refers to him as “the first author to try to make a professional living as a writer.” He’s also called the “father of the detective story.”
The Murders in the Rue Morgue, published 1841, is considered to be one of the world’s first detective stories, focusing on the extraordinary analytical powers of Monsieur Auguste Dupin to solve a series of murders in Paris.
Here’s a brief excerpt after a murder has occurred:
The persons who first entered the house all agree that the door of the
room where the daughter’s body was found was locked on the inside.
When they reached the door everything was quiet. When they forced
the door open they saw no one. The windows were closed and firmly
locked on the inside. There are no steps that someone could have gone
down while they were going up. They say that the openings over the
fireplace are too small for anyone to have escaped through them. It
took four or five people to pull the daughter’s body out of the opening
over the fireplace. A careful search was made through the whole
house. It was four or five minutes from the time they heard the voices
to the moment they forced open the door of the room.
Read the short story by clicking here and downloading a .pdf.
Edgar Allen Poe remains a literary force more than 200 years after his birth. He has achieved a timelessness that many writers dream of achieving.
Now switch gears to crime thrillers tackling contemporary issues — the Tom Stone novels and the age-old desire to be one’s own boss and make huge sums of money.
Check out excerpts and more on our Crime Fiction Books page.