"Really fine characters and a good plot"
Edgar Allan Poe is unable to feed his family on the
wages he makes as a journalist/editor in Philadelphia. He
relocates, with his family, to New York City where writing
opportunities are much better. When he sees a handbill for
the P.T. Barnum's American Circus, Edgar turns irate
because he knows that at least one falsehood exists on the
handbill he was given. He confronts Barnum, but obtains
nothing but blarney from the glib talker.
Barnum is very impressed with Poe and visits the writer
in his home when the media blames Barnum's American circus
for causing a murder to happen. Poe who has solved murders
before (SEE NEVERMORE) agrees to investigate. When the
victim's missing arm is mailed to Poe's home, he concludes
he is on the correct path and if he can stay alive long
enough he will solve the case.
Poe is clearly the star of this book as he uses his
belief in his superior brain power to slice and dice
everyone using self-deprecation so nobody will be
offended. THE HUMBUG is a serious historical mystery
though Barnum lightens up the atmosphere with his unique
brand of showmanship. Though a nineteenth century who-done-
it, mystery lovers of all sub-genre persuasions will enjoy
Harold Schecter's tale.
Reviewed by PNR Group Member
Posted September 27, 2001