Reviewer: Mary Lignor
Title: The Beautiful Cigar Girl: Mary Rogers, Edgar Allan Poe and The invention of Murder
Author: Daniel Stashower
Publisher: Dutton - The Penguin Group
Release Date: December 2007
Genre/Sub-genre: Historical Suspense
Year/Setting: 1840's New York
Overall Rating: 5.0
Sexual Content Rating: Sexual (Violent)
Language (Profanity/Slang) Content Rating: Moderate
Violent Content Rating: Extreme
Daniel's Website: www.stashower.com
The bruised and beaten body of Mary Rogers, a 20-year-old girl, was found along the shoreline of Hoboken, NJ on July 28, 1841. She worked as a cigar saleswoman in New York City, where her mother ran a boarding house. There was a cord around her neck and also fingerprints of a man on her neck that proved that she had died a terrible death. Many suspects were questioned, including two beaus, and there was never a conviction in the case. A year after her death, a woman who ran a tavern near where the cigar girl was found told newspapers that she died as a result of a botched abortion. The New York newspapers sensationalized this story for many months and it came to the attention of Edgar Allen Poe. He then wrote the Mystery of Marie Roget which came to be his idea of how Mary died.
Edgar Poe was the child of actors who abandoned him at a young age and he was adopted by a wealthy family named Allan in Virginia. He took the middle name Allan to honor them. Unfortunately, his attitude did him no good growing up. He was an amazing talent in the literary sense but always depressed and moody as he was constantly trying to one up every other author he met. On top of all this he married his 13-year-old cousin, who eventually contracted TB and passed away, making him fall even deeper into depression. When the murder of Mary Rogers exploded on the scene he decided to write "The Mystery of Marie Roget" which was set in Paris, to try and solve the murder. He sold the story, in three parts, to a magazine and it became a popular mystery of the time. Poe and Rogers never met but lived in close proximity in New York City. This was during the panic of 1837, a 6-year long depression, the worst calamity in the financial world at that time in American history. They both moved to New York to try and better their chances and each of them died at a very young age.
Mr. Stashower makes these people come alive in a way that I haven't read in a long time. The mystery of Mary Roger's death coupled with the life of Poe is so interesting that I hung on every page to see what was coming next. I have read about Poe in the past and read many of his books and poems and he was a literary genius but really messed up. Unfortunately, this could have been avoided had he been a little less egotistical. I have read the Mystery of Marie Roget but, didn't realize that it followed a real case of murder in New York. I recommend this book very highly to mystery and history buffs. If I could I would give it a 10 rating. I have only read one other of Stashower's books but will look for more. A book like this does not come along often so, enjoy, and I'll talk to you soon.
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