Cover image for The pale blue eye : a novel
Title:
The pale blue eye : a novel
Author:
Bayard, Louis.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins Publishers, [2006]

©2006
Physical Description:
412 pages ; 24 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780060733971
Format :
Book

Available:*

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FICTION Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
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FICTION Adult Fiction Popular Materials-Mystery
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FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
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FICTION Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
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Summary

Summary

From the critically acclaimed author of Mr. Timothy comes an ingenious tale of murder and revenge, featuring a retired New York City detective and a young cadet named Edgar Allan Poe.

At West Point Academy in 1830, the calm of an October evening is shattered by the discovery of a young cadet's body swinging from a rope just off the parade grounds. An apparent suicide is not unheard of in a harsh regimen like West Point's, but the next morning, an even greater horror comes to light. Someone has stolen into the room where the body lay and removed the heart.

At a loss for answers and desperate to avoid any negative publicity, the Academy calls on the services of a local civilian, Augustus Landor, a former police detective who acquired some renown during his years in New York City before retiring to the Hudson Highlands for his health. Now a widower, and restless in his seclusion, Landor agrees to take on the case. As he questions the dead man's acquaintances, he finds an eager assistant in a moody, intriguing young cadet with a penchant for drink, two volumes of poetry to his name, and a murky past that changes from telling to telling. The cadet's name? Edgar Allan Poe.

Impressed with Poe's astute powers of observation, Landor is convinced that the poet may prove useful--if he can stay sober long enough to put his keen reasoning skills to the task. Working in close contact, the two men--separated by years but alike in intelligence--develop a surprisingly deep rapport as their investigation takes them into a hidden world of secret societies, ritual sacrifices, and more bodies. Soon, however, the macabre murders and Landor's own buried secrets threaten to tear the two men and their newly formed friendship apart.

A rich tapestry of fine prose and intricately detailed characters, The Pale Blue Eye transports readers into a labyrinth of the unknown that will leave them guessing until the very end.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Bayard follows up his critically acclaimed Mr. Timothy (2003), a thriller starring the grown-up Tiny Tim, with this exquisitely written, intensively researched historical mystery featuring noted West Point dropout Edgar Allan Poe. It’s 1831, and West Point Academy calls upon the services of a retired detective with Sherlockian powers of observation named Gus Landor. The Academy is hoping Landor can quickly and quietly determine why a young cadet apparently committed suicide-and, more distressingly, why someone later cut his heart out of his body. Landor has barely begun his investigation when Poe starts hanging around. A young cadet already enamored with poetry and liquor, Poe’s keen eye and biting humor match Landor perfectly. Although Poe can get annoyingly overenthusiastic, the two men forge a friendship, and work together to solve a series of crimes that seem increasingly sinister. As historical fiction, this is first-rate-readers get a fascinating character portrait of Poe, and a look into a country, and a military academy, still finding its identity. And as a thriller, Pale Blue Eye is even better-shocking, enthralling, and always smart."--"Green, John" Copyright 2007 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Bayard follows Mr. Timothy (2003), which brilliantly imagined the adult life of Dickens's Tiny Tim, with another tour-de-force, an intense and gripping novel set during Edgar Allan Poe's brief time as a West Point cadet. In 1830, retired New York City detective Gus Landor is living a quiet life at his Hudson Valley cottage, tormented by an unspecified personal sorrow, when Superintendent Thayer summons him to West Point to investigate the hanging and subsequent mutilation of a cadet. Poe aids Landor by serving as an inside source into the closed world of the academy, though Poe's personal involvement with a suspect's sister complicates their work. But the pair find themselves helpless to prevent further outrages; the removal of the victims' hearts suggests that a satanic cult might be at work. This beautifully crafted thriller stands head and shoulders above other recent efforts to fictionalize Poe. 3-city author tour. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

Nothing is what it seems in the capable hands of novelist and book reviewer Bayard (Mr. Timothy). In the highlands of the Hudson River valley during the fall of 1831, Gus Landor, a retired New York City police detective, is called to the West Point Military Academy to assist in the investigation of a bizarre murder. After examining the first mutilated cadet, Gus realizes that he needs inside help and recruits a shadowy cadet and struggling poet named Edgar A. Poe. As the two sift through the evidence and line up suspects for questioning, more murders are committed. Between the rigors of military life and the natural mysteries of the Hudson valley, this period mystery moves methodically to the suspects, the motives, and the clues that twist and turn like the Hudson itself. The novel is further charmed by a skillful and lyrical writing style and the intrigue of West Point, now and then. A good addition for all public libraries.-Ron Samul, New London, CT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

The Pale Blue Eye A Novel Chapter One Narrative of Gus Landor My professional involvement in the West Point affair dates from the morning of October the twenty-sixth, 1830. On that day, I was taking my usual walk--though a little later than usual--in the hills surrounding Buttermilk Falls. I recall the weather as being Indian summer. The leaves gave off an actual heat, even the dead ones, and this heat rose through my soles and gilded the mist that banded the farmhouses. I walked alone, threading along the ribbons of hills . . . the only noises were the scraping of my boots and the bark of Dolph van Corlaer's dog and, I suppose, my own breathing, for I climbed quite high that day. I was making for the granite promontory that the locals call Shadrach's Heel, and I had just curled my arm round a poplar, preparing for the final assault, when I was met by the note of a French horn, sounding miles to the north. A sound I'd heard before--hard to live near the Academy and not hear it--but that morning, it made a strange buzz in my ear. For the first time, I began to wonder about it. How could a French horn throw its sound so far? This isn't the sort of matter that occupies me, as a rule. I wouldn't even bother you with it, but it goes some way to showing my state of mind. On a normal day, you see, I wouldn't have been thinking about horns. I wouldn't have turned back before reaching the summit, and I wouldn't have been so slow to grasp the wheel traces. Two ruts, each three inches deep, and a foot long. I saw them as I was wending home, but they were thrown in with everything else: an aster, a chevron of geese. The compartments leaked, as it were, one into the other, so that I only half regarded these wheel ruts, and I never (this is unlike me) followed the chain of causes and effects. Hence my surprise, yes, to breast the brow of the hill and find, in the piazza in front of my house, a phaeton with a black bay harnessed to it. On top was a young artilleryman, but my eye, trained in the stations of rank, had already been drawn to the man leaning against the coach. In full uniform, he was--preening as if for a portrait. Braided from head to toe in gold: gilt buttons and a gilt cord on his shako, a gilded brass handle on his sword. Outsunning the sun, that was how he appeared to me, and such was the cast of my mind that I briefly wondered if he had been made by the French horn. There was the music, after all. There was the man. A part of me, even then--I can see this--was relaxing , in the way that a fist slackens into its parts: fingers, a palm. I at least had this advantage: the officer had no idea I was there. Some measure of the day's laziness had worked its way into his nerves. He leaned against the horse, he toyed with the reins, flicking them back and forth in an echo of the bay's own switching tail. Eyes half shut, head nodding on its stem. . . . We might have gone on like this for some time--me watching, him being watched--had we not been interrupted by a third party. A cow. Big blowzy lashy. Coming out of a copse of sycamores, licking away a smear of clover. This cow began at once to circle the phaeton--with rare tact--she seemed to presume the young officer must have good reason for intruding. This same officer took a step backward as though to brace for a charge, and his hand, jittered, went straight to his sword handle. I suppose it was the possibility of slaughter (whose?) that finally jarred me into motion--down the hill in a long waggish stride, calling as I went. "Her name is Hagar!" Too well trained to whirl, this officer. He depended his head toward me in brief segments, the rest of him following in due course. "At least, she answers to that," I said. "She got here a few days after I did. Never told me her name, so I had to give her one." He managed something like a smile. He said, "She's a fine animal, sir." "A republican cow. Comes as she pleases, goes the same. No obligations on either side." "Well. There you . . . it occurs to me if . . ." "If only all females were that way, I know." This young man was not so young as I had thought. A couple of years on the good side of forty, that was my best guess: only a decade younger than me, and still running errands. But this errand was his one sure thing. It squared him from toe to shoulder. "You are Augustus Landor, sir?" he asked. "I am." "Lieutenant Meadows, at your service." "Pleasure." Cleared his throat--twice, he did that. "Sir, I am here to inform you that Superintendent Thayer requests an audience with you." "What would be the nature of this audience?" I asked. "I'm not at liberty to say, sir." "No, of course not. Is it of a professional order?" "I'm not at--" "Then might I ask when this audience is to take place?" "At once, sir. If you're so inclined." I confess it. The beauty of the day was never so lucid to me as at that moment. The peculiar smokiness of the air, so rare for late October. The mist , lying in drifts across the forelands. There was a woodpecker hammering out a code on a paperbark maple. Stay. With my walking stick, I pointed in the direction of my door. "You're sure I can't fix you up with some coffee, Lieutenant?" "No thank you, sir." "I've got some ham for frying, if you--" "No, I've eaten. Thank you." I turned away. Took a step toward the house. The Pale Blue Eye A Novel . Copyright © by Louis Bayard. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.