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Starred Review. Bayard follows Mr. Timothy (2003), which brilliantly imagined the adult life of Dickens's Tiny Tim, with another tour-de-force, an intense and gripping novel set during Edgar Allan Poe's brief time as a West Point cadet. In 1830, retired New York City detective Gus Landor is living a quiet life at his Hudson Valley cottage, tormented by an unspecified personal sorrow, when Superintendent Thayer summons him to West Point to investigate the hanging and subsequent mutilation of a cadet. Poe aids Landor by serving as an inside source into the closed world of the academy, though Poe's personal involvement with a suspect's sister complicates their work. But the pair find themselves helpless to prevent further outrages; the removal of the victims' hearts suggests that a satanic cult might be at work. This beautifully crafted thriller stands head and shoulders above other recent efforts to fictionalize Poe.
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“Shockingly clever and devoutly unsentimental...reads like a lost classic. Bayard reinvigorates historical fiction.” (New York Times Book Review)
“Another literary tour de force.…At novel’s end, the reader may want to start again from the beginning.” (Kirkus Reviews (Starred))
“(A) tour-de-force…intense and gripping …(a) beautifully crafted thriller ” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“Ingenious...with a rich knowledge of Poe’s life and work.” (Entertainment Weekly)
“Seemlessly blends Poe into an engrossing whodunit worthy of its inspiration. ” (USA Today)
“Exquisitely rendered character study, imaginatively Gothic, compelling.” (Miami Herald)
“Gracefully written...Bayard’s prose flows like silk, weightless but enveloping, and never shows its seams. (Salon.com)
“Bayard has produced a nuanced, wonderfully written tale, one worthy of the old master himself.” (Baltimore Sun)
“An uncanny and original portrait. Captures the imagination with exquisite details and a compelling, disquieting story.” (Denver Rocky Mountain News)
“Gruesomely entertaining.” (New York Times)
“Full of delightfully unexpected twists that continue to the very last pages of the novel.” (Denver Post)
“Brilliantly plotted and completely absorbing, ending with the kind of shock that few novelists are able to deliver.” (Sunday Times (London))
“What makes this more than a well-crafted thriller…is Bayard’s gift for language. He paints incredibly vivid pictures.” (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
“Poe, an exacting critic...would have been impressed by Bayard’s intelligence and fluidity as a writer.” (Oregonian)
“A superb, lyrically written yarn. Deft and delicious.” (Providence Journal)
“Well-wrought and suspenseful.“ (Buffalo News)
“Finely executed prose…An exquisitely rendered character study, imaginatively gothic, compelling.” (Memphis Commercial Appeal)
“Skillful...lyrical...Moves methodically to the suspects, the motives, and the clues that twist and turn like the Hudson itself.” (Library Journal)
“Worthy of...high praise.” (Bookreporter.com)
“This book has it all--prose, plot and a terrifying conclusion...it will have you guessing to the very end.” (Hamilton Spectator (Canada))
“A rich and finely wrought psychological study that is a fitting tribute to Poe himself.” (The Straits Times (Singapore))
“Recommended. This novel is moody and rich in historic detail.” (Tucson Citizen)