Unusual packages containing dead birds portend trouble!
Edgar Allan Poe and the Jewel of Peru by Karen Lee Street
My thanks to my contacts at Pegasus Books, Iris Blasi, Katie McGuire, and Maia Larson, for my advance reading copy of this book. You ladies rock!
SPOILERS POSSIBLE BUT NOT ON PURPOSE
Poe receives mysterious packages that seem to be threats. One contains stuffed and mounted ravens which have then been dismembered; one seems to indicate a grave, and one even seems to be an effigy of Poe’s wife Virginia!
Poe then discovers that his enemy, George Rhynwick Williams, and his wife are now in Philadelphia passing under the names of George Reynolds and wife. Mrs. Reynolds is an actress of some renown, though Poe feels the plays in which she acts, written by George, are very inferior.
Poe’s friend, Miss Helena Loddiges, daughter of a collector of rare birds and a skilled taxidermist, arrives at the Poe home. Men who worked for her father, Andrew and Jeremiah Matthews, have died under suspicious circumstances. They were recently collecting birds in Peru, and there are whispers of a lost tribe and a hidden jewel…
When reading the prose of Karen Lee Street one would think of Edgar Allan Poe even if the hero of the book went under another name. Street has managed to channel the spirit of Poe in this narrative, and packs the novel with Easter eggs and actual lines and names from the writings of Poe himself! Readers of Poe’s works will recognize the name Valdemar, the lines “again there came a rapping,” etc.
Set amid the quarreling of Protestants and Irish Catholics, the mystery is a multipronged staff—a mysterious journal left by Matthews Sr., the death of a priest at nearby St. Augustine Academy, the theft of rare books from the same Academy, a learned professor who was recently in Peru, and more. Each point could be a mystery in and of itself. Yet there is a method in the madness of the points, building to a crescendo as the plot is finally revealed and the villain exposed! This is a book you won’t want to put down!
I give the book five stars…
Quoth the Raven…