Edgar Allan Poe and the Jewel of Peru, Karen Lee Street’s successful second mystery featuring Poe and his literary creation C. Auguste Dupin as a flesh-and-blood detective, is a duplicitous, at times macabre, and very clever tale worthy of Mr. Poe’s name.
Living in 1844 Philadelphia with his wife, Virginia, whom Poe has nicknamed “Sissy,” and his mother-in-law, Muddy, Poe receives a parcel containing three mummified crows. Poe’s immediate suspicion is that the package is from an old enemy, George Rhynwick Williams. Complicating matters, Helena Loddiges, for whom Poe is editing an ornithology text, wants Poe’s help in finding out how her father’s bird collector, Andrew Mathews, and his son, Jeremiah—who was Helena’s lover—died at the Philadelphia docks. When two additional packages arrive, including one that hints that Dupin is in danger, and Helena is kidnapped, Poe and Dupin team up to solve the mystery.
Edgar Allan Poe and the Jewel of Peru is an invigorating mystery that feels both new and old at once. Its rich depiction of Edgar Allan Poe and its language, which has the same quality as Poe’s own prose, add depth and substance to the story. The smile-inducing combination of Poe and Dupin as crime-solving partners is admirably achieved without stretching the novel’s credibility. The Jewel of Peru is a traditional mystery most readers will find attractive, but its full appeal is for those with a deep appreciation for Poe and his writing.