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

4.1 10
by Daniel Stashower
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

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

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

In several senses, the 1841 killing of Mary Rogers was America's first great media murder. When the former Manhattan "cigar girl" was found floating in the Hudson River in July, she was already renowned throughout the city for her beauty and for a previous unexplained disappearance. But in the tabloid fever of penny newspaper wars, her posthumous fame swept the nation. To capitalize on the frenzy, struggling writer Edgar Allan Poe constructed "The Mystery of Marie Roget," a thinly veiled fiction based on the case. In The Beautiful Cigar Girl, Edgar winner Daniel Stashower artfully interweaves the almost equally tragic stories of a doomed young woman and a deeply troubled genius.
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.

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:
251,688
File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Daniel Stashower is the winner of the Raymond Chandler Fulbright Fellowship in Detective and Crime Fiction Writing.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

The Beautiful Cigar Girl: Mary Rogers, Edgar Allan Poe, and the Invention of Murder 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Through the story of a single young woman, the author provides an in-depth view of "new" New York, gender dynamics in the late 19th century, the rapid growth of the "Forth Estate" and the creation of modern policing. The author has clearly done detailed research, though the book could have benefited from the maps of Mary Rodger's neighborhood and relevant areas. Mary's death struck me as very similar to another New Yorker's - Helen Jewett, a similarity the author discusses early in this book. I would recommend that Patrica Cohen's book The Murder of Helen Jewett be read prior to this book. Jewett's murder occurred first and this pair of books tells a comprehensive story of a time In New York.
HannahP More than 1 year ago
I have been studying and reading works and books about Poe since I was in High school. Now a College graduate I love reading new material about this man. This book was really fun to read and was extremely detailed about the life of Poe. Also the story of the cigar girl is something I was unfamiliar with and really fun to get to know. I heard they may be making this book into a film. I cant wait to see who is going to play Poe!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
A wonderful adaptation about the murder of Mary Rogers and involvement of Edgar Allan Poe. If 19 century historical fiction is your thing, this is in your wheel house. Wonderful character development and narrative. Excellent!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dawww. Bye. ;-; Ttyt.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My nook is dieing. I'm gonna bootyscoot. :l Bye!