The First Detective Story
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Before CSI, Law and Order, and Bones or Sherlock Holmes and Father Brown, there was "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" by Edgar Allan Poe. "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" is considered the very first "detective story". The influence of Poe (1809 to-1849 USA-there is background information on him in my three prior posts on his short stories) is just huge. Numerous horror style movies have been made based on his stories. His short stories are canon status works. They are also a lot of fun to read. All of his work can easily be found online.
"The Murders in the Rue Morgue" is about using deductive reasoning, acute observational skills and the willingness to follow the evidence to whatever conclusion, improbable as it may seem, it leads to. Just like in the Sherlock Holme's stories, the lead figure is a brilliant detective called into solve a crime that baffles the authorities. The story is narrated by a friend of the detective.
As the story opens we are allowed to visualize what those on the scene find when they come on the murder scene of an elderly woman and her adult daughter. They lived as near recluses in a quiet Paris neighborhood. The detective, Auguste Dupin, starts out by questioning the neighbors as well as the tradesmen in the area to try to find out about the life style of the two women. Everyone says they are very quiet and had no visitors and no men in their lives. The mother had her throat so badly slashed that her head is barely attached and the body of the daughter is found stuffed up the chimney. It appears a very powerful maniac has committed the crime. There is gold left behind in the house so it was not a robbery. There also appears to be no way inside the house, there seems no evidence of a break in. Everyone is baffled by this seemingly senseless and motiveless crime.
Neighbors all report they heard wild screams in the house. In a very funny scene a French man insists the screams were in German, a Russian that they were in English and an Italian that the screams were made by someone speaking Romanian.
Dupin, of course, comes up with the only logical solution for the crime by a process of elimination. You can read this story in just a few minutes so I will not tell anymore of the plot.
You can read this (and much more of Poe's work) HERE.
I think Poe had fun writing this story and I know I did reading it.
Do you have a favorite Poe short story?
I think "The Black Cat" would have to be one of my favorite stories by Poe; close behind this would be "The Cask of Amontillado" and "The Pit and the Pendulum."
Fred-thanks very much for your response-of the stories you mentioned, I have read only "The Black Cat"-I will read the other two as my next Poe works
I really liked "The Purloined Letter," another ratiocination story with Dupin that I found equally baffling; I really want to read the third Dupin story too although I haven't had a chance yet. I also liked "The Cask of Amontillado" a lot.
Bookworm1858-I think I need to read the other two Dupin stories very soon-
What a surprisingly tough question, my favorite Poe short story. I do like "The Maelstrom," but I think "The Fall of the House of Usher" wins out here. Yes, yes, definitely. I've written about both, but ages ago. Now I want to go re-read a ton of Poe!
Though I must say, I never cared for this particular one. I guess the solution just didn't really work for me. Although maybe I would feel differently now and take it in a better spirit.
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