ISBN #: 978-1492251279
Page Count: 36
Copyright: August 25, 2013
Originally Published: December 1844
(Taken from Amazon)
"The Purloined Letter" is a short story by American author Edgar Allan Poe. It is the third of his three detective stories featuring the fictional C. Auguste Dupin, the other two being "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" and "The Mystery of Marie Rogêt". These stories are considered to be important early forerunners of the modern detective story. It first appeared in the literary annual The Gift for 1845 (1844) and was soon reprinted in numerous journals and newspapers.
The unnamed narrator is discussing with the famous Parisian amateur detective C. Auguste Dupin some of his most celebrated cases when they are joined by the Prefect of the Police, a man known as G—. The Prefect has a case he would like to discuss with Dupin. A letter has been stolen from the boudoir of an unnamed female by the unscrupulous Minister D—. It is said to contain compromising information. Danton was in the room, saw the letter, and switched it for a letter of no importance. He has been blackmailing his victim. The Prefect makes two deductions with which Dupin does not disagree: 1.) The contents of the letter have not been revealed, as this would have led to certain circumstances that have not arisen. Therefore Minister D— still has the letter in his possession. 2.) The ability to produce the letter at a moment’s notice is almost as important as possession of the letter itself. Therefore he must have the letter close at hand. The Prefect says that he and his police detectives have searched the Ministerial hotel where D— stays and have found nothing. They checked behind the wallpaper and under the carpets. His men have examined the tables and chairs with microscopes and then probed the cushions with needles but have found no sign of interference; the letter is not hidden in these places. Dupin asks the Prefect if he knows what he is looking for and the Prefect reads off a minute description of the letter, which Dupin memorizes. The Prefect then bids them good day.
I've called myself a fan of Poe's. I don't know that I can say that confidently now. I've heard of, and read, "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," but I never knew it was part of a 3-story series featuring a fictional detective! How could I not have known that?! I hang my head in shame.
"The Purloined Letter" is an extremely quick read. For a short story, though, it has the intensity that is so familiar to Poe's works. The detail he's able to incorporate into the story is, of course, above par because, let's face it, it's Poe and he doesn't do much of anything sub-par.
I do wish there would've been just a little more action in this story. As it stands, it's mainly two to three gentlemen sitting down discussing what has happened. It can be kind of boring to read, but I'm willing to overlook it for one of my favorite authors.