The Beautiful Cigar Girl: Mary Rogers, Edgar Allan Poe, and the Invention of Murder

The Beautiful Cigar Girl: Mary Rogers, Edgar Allan Poe, and the Invention of Murder

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by Daniel Stashower
     
 

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On July 28, 1841, the body of Mary Rogers, a twenty-year-old cigar girl, was found floating in the Hudson-and New York's unregulated police force proved incapable of solving the crime. One year later, a struggling writer named Edgar Allan Poe decided to take on the case-and sent his fictional detective, C. Auguste Dupin, to solve the baffling murder of Mary Rogers in … See more details below

Overview

On July 28, 1841, the body of Mary Rogers, a twenty-year-old cigar girl, was found floating in the Hudson-and New York's unregulated police force proved incapable of solving the crime. One year later, a struggling writer named Edgar Allan Poe decided to take on the case-and sent his fictional detective, C. Auguste Dupin, to solve the baffling murder of Mary Rogers in "The Mystery of Marie Rog?t."

Editorial Reviews

William Grimes
Mr. Stashower, a mystery writer and the author of Teller of Tales, a biography of Arthur Conan Doyle, captures both the pathos and the absurdity of Poe’s often self-imposed predicaments. There was no opportunity, no matter how golden, that Poe could not subvert and no benefactor or potential ally he could not pick a fight with.
— The New York Times
Timothy J. Gilfoyle
Stashower deftly combines his talents as a novelist, mystery writer and biographer in The Beautiful Cigar Girl.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
The author of Edgar winner Teller of Tales now recounts the story of Manhattan tobacco store clerk Mary Rogers, a mysterious beauty whose posse of admirers made her a minor celebrity in 1841 in various newspapers' society pages. The discovery that year of her mutilated corpse fueled a public outcry and a newspaper circulation war, as well as a fictional magazine serial by Edgar Allan Poe featuring his famous detective Dupin speculating on the murder of working-class Parisian "Marie Rog t." Poe rightly deduced that Mary wasn't a victim of the gang violence that plagued New York City in the absence of an effective police presence. But he came late to the accepted theory that Mary had died of a botched abortion and had to tweak his final installment to maintain his and Dupin's reputations. Although Stashower's account bogs down in comparisons of Poe's revisions of the Rog t manuscript, it's a generally absorbing account of the birth of the modern detective story. The sordid details of Mary Rogers's stunted life pale in comparison with Poe's own love-starved childhood, self-destructive tidal wave of alcoholism, poverty and rants against publishers and rivals; Poe's genius and literary legacy are hauntingly drawn here. (Oct. 5) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Readers who enjoyed Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City will like mystery novelist and biographer Stashower's work here. Following a similar approach to a 19th-century crime, Stashower (Teller of Tales: The Life of Arthur Conan Doyle) tells the story of New York City cigar store clerk Mary Rogers, whose violent death in 1841 brought on a frenzy of sensational newspaper stories and prompted the interest of Edgar Allan Poe. Stashower's special distinction is in moving back and forth between the lives of Rogers and Poe and then intertwining their stories: he details how the mystery surrounding Rogers's murder became the inspiration for Poe's story "The Mystery of Marie Rog t." He also does an excellent job demonstrating the rise of lurid journalism in direct reaction to this crime and the inadequacies of the city police as they attempted to solve it. Well researched and accessible, here is a gripping story that is hard to put down; literary buffs in particular will enjoy this wonderful backstory to the creation of Poe's sequel to "The Murders in the Rue Morgue." Recommended for public and academic libraries of all sizes. (Bibliography not seen.) Gena Moore, Central Piedmont Community Coll. Lib., NC Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An informative, swift-moving account of how Edgar Allan Poe transformed a sensational 1841 New York City murder into "The Mystery of Marie Roget" (published in three installments in the winter of 1842-3). Stashower knows murder, and he knows the craft of biography. He has written mystery novels (Elephants in the Distance, 1989) and an Edgar-winning life of Arthur Conan Doyle (Teller of Tales, 1999) and brings to this current, complex task both considerable intelligence and wide-ranging research (he scoured Poe scholarship, 19th-century newsA bold attempt to understand a tormented genius, to examine a grisly crime and to explain the latter's effects both on Gotham's system of law enforcement and on abortion legislation.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781440620485
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
12/04/2007
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
346,945
File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

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