Published - 23rd December 2010
Format - Kindle
Goodreads Synopsis - The Purloined Letter is
the third of the three stories featuring the detective C. Auguste Dupin,
the other two being The Murders in the Rue Morgue and The Mystery of
Marie Roget. These stories are considered important forerunners of the
modern detective story. The method Poe's detective, Dupin, uses to solve
the crime was quite innovative. He tried to identify with the criminal
and to "think like he would." In May of 1844 Poe wrote to James Russell
Lowell that he considered it "perhaps the best of my tales of
(Not the actual cover of my version)
I originally gave this short story a low star rating of 2/5 but on reflection i've bumped it up to a much more suitable 4/5. I rarely change my mind on books but this one had me thinking long past the last page.
Having recently reviewed The Murders in Rue Morgue as a guest post (which you can read here), I jumped straight into The Purloined Letter. For those interested - I have intentionally missed out the middle story in this collection but I intend to go back at a later date to read it! This review will vaguely come in two parts as I talk about my first impressions and then the reasons why I changed my rating.
Unlike The Murders in Rue Morgue, this story was more plot driven than explanation of Dupin's analysis process. The Purloined Letter was shorter and easy to read and I strangely enough, I think this was partly why I found myself enjoying it less. Don't get me wrong, I DID like it - I just felt like I was missing something. Everything seemed easy and straightforward. I'm new to detective fiction but even I know that there needs to be a twist of some kind. So I finished it, rated it and moved on.
Although I didn't really move on. I had a class about Poe's work and then I spent some time googling, as you do, and I think I finally got what i'd been missing. Revenge.
The Purloined Letter, though seemingly easy and simplistic is actually darker and more mysterious than The Murders of Rue Morgue, or even anything that i've read lately. It plays heavily on revenge and deceit. Looking back, I have no idea how I missed it in the first place, but I re-read the last few pages to make sense of it in this new light. With this in mind, I enjoyed the story much more and I felt I needed to adjust my star rating accordingly. When I have more time, I plan on reading all three Dupin stories again as it seems to me that more is hidden underneath just waiting to be discovered!
If you've read either The Murders of Rue Morgue or The Purloined Letter, i'd love to know what your thoughts are! Also if there are any other short stories by Poe you recommend, let me know those too.