I must start out my review on Poe’s detective story by saying that I love Poe’s work, but I am not a fan of this one. It is true that the set up of the murder is interesting: an unreachable/inescapable setting, two mysterious women killed with a lack of motive, and the extreme nature of the atrocities all work together to add to the mystery. It might, in fact, be fair to say that I like the story but not the structure.
Poe starts out the story with an analysis of the analytical mind—see what I did there? I first imagined a young Poe, wearing black of course, playing chess with someone older than him. His heart’s desire was to beat this person at the game, but he just couldn’t. Flash forward to him sitting down to write his story, and a repressed memory causes him to blast chess as the less analytical game when compared with checkers. He must have won at checkers.
In all seriousness, Poe does have some decent points about the differences in chess and checkers, but as a reader, I wanted to skip the entire part and jump into ‘the story.’ I continued to feel this way when the witnesses all shared their statements in a row. I felt a lot of information flooding at me, without any forward momentum. While it was intellectually stimulating to analyze the difference in their viewpoints, it was not a style I want to emulate. On reflection this caused me to realize that my writing style is for a particular purpose— to entertain. Great authors write beautiful works using literary skills, and I wish to do that too, but my number one priority is to transport the reader. I want them to struggle to put the story down and feel upset when the world I created ends. I accept this about myself now; my purpose is to entertain.
Have you read The Murders of Rue Morgue? Am I too harsh? Do you enjoy that type of style in a mystery? Leave a comment below.