This book organises all of Poe’s writings into just a few convenient categories: Tales of Mystery and Horror, Humor and Satire, Flights and Fantasies, The Narrative of A. Gordon Pym of Nantucket, and The Poems. Of these, I think the first contains the best examples of Poe’s genre-defining style, including one of the first detective stories ever written (predating the strikingly similar Sherlock Holmes stories by 46 years). The scary tales tend to be short on plot but ooze with atmosphere–the effect is almost more pictorial than literary. Overall, I didn’t enjoy this book very much and a lot of the stories felt pointless or tedious to read, but I respect Poe’s groundbreaking literary influence.
[Why I read it: I wanted to be familiar with more of Poe’s works than just The Raven.]
I was extremely excited to come across this collection of mystery stories written by the authoress of the Scarlet Pimpernel books, but ended up disappointed to find The Man in the Corner neither so unique, engaging nor memorable as I had been led to expect from Orczy’s other works. The two main characters aren’t very likeable and the mysteries feel somewhat formulaic – lacking subtlety and sureness of touch.
[Why I read it: random thrift store find.]
This book is fun, but not substantial, being short and populated with two-dimensional characters. The twist at the end was entertaining, but I did not feel that it was very skillfully supported by the preceding plot development. The whole thing gave me the impression that Agatha Christie had, by this time in her career, settled into a trustworthy and unique, if somewhat mundane and formulaic, writing style. I would be interested to read some of her earlier works.