(baltimoresun.com, Feb. 15, Diane Scharper)
For the 200th anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe’s birth, the Mystery Writers of America have published this collection of 16 of Poe’s best works with often-insightful commentary by well-known mystery writers. As editor Michael Connelly explains it, Poe’s death in Baltimore in 1849 is shrouded in mystery, as is much of his literary output. Ill, incoherent and dressed in clothes that were not his, 40-year-old Poe could have been mistaken for several of the protagonists of his short stories. Poe’s bad temper, excessive drinking and unpredictable nature would fit perfectly into the plots of narratives included here, like “The Black Cat,” “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Cask of Amontillado.” But Poe was much more than a reprobate. As Stephen King, Laura Lippman and others discuss their indebtedness to Poe, one realizes the extent of his greatness. Even literary giants like D.H. Lawrence, who admired Poe’s impassioned probing of the human soul, fell under his sway.