The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard



[Click the cover below to check it out! If you don’t see a book cover below it’s probably ad-blocker settings]

[I think this is the paperback cover? I don’t like it nearly as much as the cover of mine/what I think is hardback]


Here’s the cover I have:

[Ooooo, mysterious~]

“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. The next morning, an even greater horror comes to light. Someone has removed the dead man’s heart. Augustus Landor—who acquired some renown in his years as a New York City police detective—is called in to discreetly investigate. It’s a baffling case Landor must pursue in secret, for the scandal could do irreparable damage to the fledgling institution. But he finds help from an unexpected ally—a moody, 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 strange and haunted Southern poet for whom Landor develops a fatherly affection, is named Edgar Allan Poe.”



Another good thrift store find, I was initially attracted to the book by both its size [I sometimes judge books not necessarily on their cover, but by sizing them up to if they’re big enough to kill someone via bludgeoning/blunt force trauma – and this one is pretty chunky] but also the title.

While I do not really have ‘pale’ blue eyes, I’ve been told they’re [blue eyes] a very striking feature, and I just like eyeballs in general. And then when I pulled it off the shelf to see the cover, I was like ‘oooo maybe it’s a pale blue eye because it’s a corpse!’ and my interest was piqued.

AND THEN I read the synopsis and I was like: ‘Murder? Bodies? Organ removal? And -gasp- the Grandaddy Goth himself, Poe?’ I don’t know if I’ve ever placed a book so fast into a basket before. Even gave it a happy little pat. It was coming home with me.

The book switches around a bit, between the first person perspective of Landor, the retired detective – who often breaks the fourth wall and refers to us as ‘Dear Reader.’ [And as a joke, the first time he directs to us {as the reader} I sort of did a fake pearl clutch with a ‘Who, meeee?’ ] – and the letters that are sent to Landor from Poe outside of their normal interactions in the book.

Up front, I really like this author’s writing style. I wasn’t halfway through the book and and already was looking up his other works and added a few to a wishlist/lookout list. I can’t really explain what about it really stood out to me, I just liked his flow. He has a pretty good sense of humor, too.

One of the recurring themes that stuck out to me is how well the author seemed to have researched to write this historical fiction. To how he worked to replicate Poe’s writing style, and his descriptions of how Poe was as a person was obviously well researched, down to his attending military school, historical settings, etc. Everything that we know of EAP was well described, and he was written exactly as I imagine him. Like most young gothlings, I drank up EAP as a kid/teen, so it was pretty important to me that his portrayal was accurate. I wasn’t just not-disappointed, I was impressed.

The book doesn’t pull any punches about descriptions of gore and death that happens in the book, and has an accurate portrayal of the knowledge [or lack thereof] of science, medicine, and facts [more assumptions in those days] of the occult in the 1800’s.

It was also really great about keeping me guessing the entire time. I kept having guesses as to what was happening, and of course the ‘whodunit’ aspect, and yet each time I was proven wrong. Lots and lots of twists and turns in this book, and they’re all great and some twists are pretty major to the plotline. There were multiple times I was so engrossed in what was going on that I either stayed up wayyy too late reading because I didn’t want to put it down or completely lost track of time. Or times where I had to put it down and do stuff and internally whined about it [while still thinking about the book.] I was kept on my toes the entire read, as well. Literally to the last few pages I was kept guessing. And that’s awesome. It actually has made me consider re-reading it again sometime down the line knowing the full story now. Re-read value!

I’d say my only qualm/s about it was that this book is definitely a slow burn. I noticed at one point I was reaching almost halfway through the book and was wondering why the ‘investigation’ in the book hadn’t made all that much progress in the story. [Not to say that it’s boring though, the interactions going on, especially with the adventures of Landor and Poe] The book takes it’s time, but it really is worth it and its done for a reason. I can see how some people with not a lot of patience would get aggravated, but this book is over 400 pages, so it should already be assumed it wouldn’t be a ‘quick’ read. [Though I consumed it pretty fast because I liked it so much.]



I give The Pale Blue Eye 5/5 Freshly-Removed Human Hearts


“He showed you all his teeth but he never gave you his eyes.”




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