illustrated portrait of American author of gothic fiction Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe

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What types of mystery stories did Edgar Allan Poe create?

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Edgar Allan Poe's mystery stories broke new ground because of his imaginative plot lines.  Three of his stories are widely regarded to be the first American detective fictions: "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," "The Mystery of Marie Roget," and "The Purloined Letter," and feature a gifted amateur detective, C. Auguste Dupin. "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" was sensational because of its murderer: a razor-wielding orangutan.  Dupin is able to solve this, and the other two crimes, through his formidable intelligence, empathy, and his use of what Poe called "ratiocination," a technique of reasoning.

Other Poe mysteries, "The Gold Bug," "Thou Art the Man," and "The Man of the Crowd" introduced staples of modern detective fiction including the use of surveillance, code-breaking, and forcing a suspect's confession.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, British author of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, called Poe's work "a model for all time."



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