Wednesday, September 30, 2009

#216. Read “The Purloined Letter” by Edgar Allan Poe

"Poe" Folk

Edgar Allan Poe has been an inspiration of mine for many years now. At times, I can find him overly loquacious, but for the most part, I am drawn to his dark creativity. My personal favorite is "The Masque of the Red Death," but I am partial to "The Cask of Amontillado" and "The Fall of the House of Usher". One short story of his that escaped my attention for years was "The Purloined Letter." I knew of it, but it was always one of those things that I'd get to later.

Fast forward to a evening when there was very little on television, and I was less than tired. It created the recipe for me to digest this morsel that is purely Poe. The story reads practically like an episode of Law and Order (without the Order). It is set up very procedurally. **Spoiler Alert** A police detective brings the case of a missing letter to an intellectual man (I'm not sure if he is a freelance detective or just a dilettante. In any case, the police detective goes through pain staking efforts to find this letter which must be hidden in this hotel. However, he never finds it. He even checks the legs of all the chairs to make sure they haven't been hollowed out. He turns the each page of every book in the room "not content with a mere shake." In any case, he comes up empty handed. This leaves the dilettante to surmise the the letter must be hidden in plain sight. He discovers the the letter (which is printed on thick paper) has been separated and turned inside out, then concealed as a love letter.

There is some more intrigue involved in the story, but I'll leave that to anyone who may be interested in reading it themselves. I recommend it. It'll take you about an hour to read, and you'll feel smarter when you finish.

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