A Mystery of Mysteries

A Mystery of Mysteries by Mark Dawidziak

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for A Mystery of Mysteries:

Poe was funnier than you think. Also, a bit of a jerk.

Quick synopsis:

A look at the life and death of Edgar Allan Poe.

Fun Fact for Non-History People:

Poe married his cousin when he was 26 and she was 13. Yeah, try and forget that one the next time his name comes up in conversation.

Fun Fact for History Nerds:

The Raven was almost instantly a smashing success and Poe only got paid $9 for its publication.

My Take on A Mystery of Mysteries:

Mark Dawidziak has a problem. You see, he knows everyone pictures Edgar Allan Poe as the drunk, dark, and troubled man from his most famous portrait right before he died. Dawidziak knows you think of his macabre writings and how he was the master of horror. Well, dang it, Dawidziak also wants you to remember just how funny he was.

A Mystery of Mysteries tells the story of Poe’s final (and confusing as hell) days with flashbacks to the rest of his life. I know many people prefer a perfectly linear timeline in their history, but I loved what Dawidziak did with this book. The jumbling of Poe’s experiences made Poe’s many contradictions seem starker and, in many cases, surprising. Yes, Poe was funny, and no one remembers that. Many also don’t know that his literary criticism was the stuff of legend. Sure, Dawidziak doesn’t solve the mystery of who/what killed Poe, but he does bring the full character of Poe back to life.

(This book was provided as an advance copy by St. Martin’s Press.)


A great read for everyone. Buy it here!

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2 responses to “A Mystery of Mysteries by Mark Dawidziak”

  1. Barb K. Avatar
    Barb K.

    This one is on my TBR, and I appreciated reading your observations. Although I’ve been a fan of Poe since my distant teenage years, my interest grew after moving to Richmond, where he spent much of his life. Given my monumental TBR list, I don’t know when I will get to this, but you’ve convinced me that I should keep it on the list when I do my period “list-housekeeping”.

    1. Brendan Dowd Avatar

      Barb, my embarrassingly long TBR is a source of stress but it still doesn’t keep me from getting more books. It’s a vice, but I think one of the safer vices to have! Mark’s book is definitely a great read and I would recommend reading it after a book which was long and laborious or didn’t meet your expectations. Mark’s writing flows so smoothly that the book flies by. I think it’s a great “palette cleanser” to read a well written book about a famous subject. Thank you for commenting!

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