Book Review: The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard

The story line is intriguing – an ex New York cop is lured out of retirement to investigate a brutal murder at America’s West Point military academy. A young cadet has been found hung, with his heart brutally carved out. Soon animals are being found equally dead and also with hearts torn out. 

Landor recruits another cadet – Edgar Allen Poe –  to help him investigate. It is a move unwelcome to the military authorities given that Poe is one of their least successful cadets. The pace is steady throughout the book, with no real tension or build up to what can only be described as an unusual ending. 

At times I found the prose hard to read, it is very wordy much in the style of nineteenth century novels eg ‘ The Marquis siblings, for the most part, attempted to confine their communictions to the level of a whisper. Attempted, I say, because as you yourself know, the human voice will not long sustain such a brake.

Some innate equilibrium goads it periodically into a more natural register, where, though it remains low, it becomes, in a flash, intelligible, just as the sporadic irruption of a familiar word or phrase in the intercourse of foreigners may disclose the speakers meaning even to one largely unacquainted with that tongue. You need patience to read this book!

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