Edgar Allan Poe and the London Monster

Written by Karen Lee Street
Review by Douglas Kemp

June 1840, and Poe sails to England, where he meets up with (his own fictional creation) the detective C. Auguste Dupin. He first met Dupin in 1832 while in Paris, and they have arranged to meet in London, at Poe’s request, over a curious box that Poe’s adopted father’s widow had supposedly sent him, after excluding Poe from the rest of the estate. The box contains letters between Poe’s grandparents that demonstrate their involvement in a series of attacks on women in the late 18th century.  The London Monster stabbed upwards of fifty young and stylish women in their backsides from 1788-1790, shredding and slitting their clothes. These attacks did happen in London and the author makes the fictional link to Poe’s grandparents. While Dupin and Poe investigate the matter in London, there also appears to be a malevolent force that is attempting to seek revenge on Poe for these violent acts – Poe’s overall health and state of mind are not assisted by his own mental volatility and vulnerability, regardless of any external threat – from supernatural, or whatever the origin. The duo uncovers unpleasant secrets from the past, and Dupin also has demons from his family’s past to exorcize as well.

Poe narrates the story in an impressive approximation of his own rather baroque writing voice, and there are plenty of references to elements that were to subsequently appear in Poe’s fictional and poetical works. A sequel is planned to this entertaining and well-written novel.