Cover image for The hum bug : a novel
The hum bug : a novel
Schechter, Harold.
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Publication Information:
New York : Pocket Books, [2001]

Physical Description:
x, 388 pages ; 25 cm
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Premier mystery author Schechter revisits the chilling world of Nevermore in this novel of historical suspense, the second in his critically acclaimed series starring Edgar Allan Poe.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Writers who attempt to resurrect historical figures like Edgar Allan Poe to star as sleuths run the risk of creating an undead hero who still appears quite lifeless. Schechter's two Poe mysteries (the first was Nevermore, 1999) escape this fate--Poe and his times come across with wonderful credibility and vitality. Even here, where showman P. T. Barnum shows up on Poe's doorstep seeking his counsel, Schechter manages to make this most improbable combination of huckster and melancholic work. It's the spring of 1844 in New York, and Barnum's American Museum on Broadway is packing them in, especially his Hall of Crime and Punishment. The problem is that the murder of a young woman exactly replicates one of the most famous crime scenes (the murder of Ellen Jennings) in the wax museum. Barnum seeks Poe's amateur-detective expertise in clearing his name and finding the murderer. A riveting excursion. --Connie Fletcher

Publisher's Weekly Review

In 1844 Edgar Allan Poe and his wife, Sissy, recently moved to New York, visit P.T. Barnum's American Museum only to become enmeshed in a grisly series of murders, in this lively historical whodunit. Curiosity about a dubious display of relics from the last stand at the Alamo of Davy Crockett, with whom he solved another set of murders a decade before in the author's first Poe mystery, Nevermore (2001), lures the truth-loving writer into a meeting with the redoubtable showman. Barnum has an explanation for that and everything else he offers up to entertain the public. " `I know perfectly well that ordinary gorillas have no tails,' Barnum said, `But that's what makes mine such a remarkable specimen!' " When Barnum's diorama of an infamous murder a woman, hands amputated, a rose in her mouth is re-created in flesh and blood, he hires Poe to help him find the killer. In the course of the chase every corner of the bizarre museum becomes familiar, and the cast of human oddities inside and out, such as Morris Vanderhorn ("it's as if he's got two faces, split right down the middle"), seems a perfect foil for the master of the grotesque and arabesque. Some readers may find the narrative, as if by Poe, a bit much "Somewhat stung by Sissy's unflattering characterization of me as a `fuddy-duddy,' I opened my lips with the intention of delivering a spirited reply" but Schechter has fun with it (a highlight: Poe's encounter with a contemporary porn novel). You pay your nickel and you get entertained. Agent, Loretta Barrett. (Nov. 13) FYI: Schechter is the coauthor, with David Everitt, of The A to Z Encyclopedia of Serial Killers. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Schechter's second historical mystery starring Edgar Allan Poe (after Nevermore) begins in 1844, when Poe has just moved his family to New York City in search of work. After accusing showman P.T. Barnum of willfully defrauding the public, Poe is astonished when Barnum asks his help in solving the gruesome murder of a young woman. Intrigued by the notion, Poe agrees to join forces to solve the crime. He is plunged immediately into a world of greed and inexplicable horror, as more victims are found. Understandably, these experiences fuel Poe's taste for the macabre. But will the detective in him be able to catch the dreadful serial killer? Schechter offers some luridly amusing descriptions of human oddities such as Bruno the Armless Wonder and Willie Schnitzler the Bearded Lady. The writing is wordy and the mystery itself a bit thin, but Schechter effectively conveys the climate of New York at a time when people were easily suckered by Barnum's tricks. Recommended for larger public libraries. Laurel Bliss, Yale Arts Lib. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.