Thursday, May 27, 2010

"The Purloined Letter" by Edgar Allen Poe

Source: Voices in the Dark (mp3)
Length: 41 minutes
Reader: Sean Puckett

The story: The Prefect of Police for Paris comes to the great amateur detective C. Auguste Dupin with a seemingly simple mystery: A woman of some great importance has lost the possession of a letter containing embarrassing information, presumably concerning an affair. Minister D---, a high-ranking official, has stolen the letter from her and appears to plan to use it to blackmail the noblewoman in the near future. The police have thoroughly searched Minister D---'s residence and even staged a fake mugging to search the man himself, but so far have not been able to recover the letter. Where is the missing letter? Will Dupin be able to get it back?

I enjoyed this Dupin story more than the "Murders in the Rue Morgue", not because the mystery was so much better (it's not), but because Poe gets right down to the story immediately, rather than introducing the plot with a long philosophical treatise. Poe seems more comfortable with his characters this go-round, allowing them to show some wittiness. He even makes a joke at his own expense, when the Prefect says of M. D----, "He's a poet, which I take to be one removed from a fool." With Poe himself being a poet, we can see a bit of the author in Dupin's tactful reaction: " Yes . . . but I admit to a bit of doggerel myself".

Rating: 7/10

The reader: Puckett reads with a sleepy drawl, which while not entirely suited to this piece, is pleasant and understandable. He provides slight inflection to each of his characters to differentiate them without performing voices for each. The recording itself is clear and well-produced. If you find Puckett's narration not to your liking, there are several versions of this story available at LibriVox and at Lit2Go.

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