This is a collection of the Dupin mystery stories from Edgar Allan Poe. I know that at some point in my life I read these, either for a class, or in that way that teenagers in the US who love to read have their “obsessed with Edgar Allan Poe” moments. And because I grew up in Virginia, lived in both Baltimore, and Richmond, we love love love Poe around these parts. But I don’t remember the specifics or the experience of reading these. They are larger by reputation than their actual storytelling in a lot of ways. Many people who’ve never read “The Murders of the Rue Morgue” know the basic solution of it, and the title “The Purloined Letter” is obviously quite well-known. There’s also of course the various movie versions. And Dupin is referenced by name in A Study in Scarlet.
That all said, these are quite sophisticated in their approach, and along with later, early detective stories there’s so much familiar here that is being invented. What I mean by this is that these are the tropes of the genre, being put down for the first time (and done well) and you can feel and trace their lineage through these early stories and into the future. It’s both satisfying to read these stories because a) they’re good and b) they’re chock full of the goofy quirks of Poe, that if you love him, you come to love about him. (Not at all unlike the habits of Stephen King that are among his worst writing offenses but intertwined with his writing personality).