MPPL's staff blog about books, movies, music and the talent behind them.
The President of the United States of America, Margaret Myers, has just learned her son along with a dozen other American civilians was murdered in Mexico. Having won her presidency on the platform of no new warfare, yet determined to seek justice, Myers must think outside of the box in this delicate and deadly situation. Just outside of the box is Troy Pearce, CEO of the private security firm Pearce Systems and a leader in drone technology. A former CIA SOG, Pearce has extensive training, but this job might be harder than even he can handle. Building in intensity, Drone by Mike Maden gives readers a sweeping look at military technology and the intricacies of politics in this suspenseful techno-thriller.
Title: The Pale Blue Eye
Author: Louis Bayard
Page Count: 412 pages
Genre: Historical Mystery
Tone: Plot-driven, literary, intricate
Summary from publisher:
At West Point Academy in 1830, the calm of an October evening is shattered by the discovery of a young cadet’s body swinging from a rope. The next morning, an even greater horror comes to light. Someone has removed the dead man’s heart. Augustus Landor—who acquired some renown in his years as a New York City police detective—is called in to discreetly investigate. It’s a baffling case Landor must pursue in secret, but he finds help from an unexpected ally—a moody, young cadet with a penchant for drink, two volumes of poetry to his name, and a murky past that changes from telling to telling named Edgar Allan Poe.
These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points if you have not read the book.
1. Was Poe what you expected? Did his character fit with what you already knew? Did Poe’s character surprise you at all?
2. Did you ever suspect or doubt Poe?
3.Did you trust Poe’s accounts? Did he embellish? Was he objective?
4.What would the story have been without Poe? Why include him? Is it a gimmick? A distraction? Is the narrative better for his inclusion? Is the story more about the mystery/investigation or more about Poe?
5. Are Landor and Poe well-matched? Do they complement each other? Are they good or bad for each other?
6. Why do you think Landor and Poe “clicked” so quickly and well?
7. Why did West Point bring Landor in? What does this reveal about the culture of West Point and about Landor? What was his style as an investigator?
8. In the development of the story, were you curious about Landor’s backstory? His private life? Was this changed at the end? In retrospect, were the clues laid?
9. Turning our attention to other characters, what did you make of Mr. Allan?
10. What do you make of each one of the Marquis family?
11. What is the significance of “the pale blue eye”? To whom does it first refer to? How about later in the story?
12. What is the allusion to Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart”?
13. Did the solution/revelation surprise you? Was this a satisfactory mystery?
14. What did you notice about the writing and the language? Were there times Poe/Bayard tried too hard, was too flowery, was too indirect, or did you appreciate the expressiveness, the images evoked?
15. Did the juxtaposition of language/poetry with the grisly mystery work or did it clash? Did the pacing seem uneven or not?
16. Did the historical details ring true? Were they well-chosen?
17. Is it believable that Poe would keep the secret? Do you believe he was behind Stoddard’s death?
18. Does Poe’s ordeal give him reason/foundation for rest of life’s writing?
19. Would Poe have approved of this story? Is it like him?
20. To what kind of reader would you recommend this book to?
If you liked The Pale Blue Eye, try…
Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey is filled with fascinating details on how famous creators scheduled their days, covering everything from how long they would work to their various quirks (Beethoven had a very unusual bathing routine). While the information may not be very useful, this little book is great for anyone interested in how people spend their time.
‘Tis the time when the days shorten and the nights chill, when trees put on their autumn costumes and each step crackles like bonfire. Whether or not you are one to celebrate All Hallows Eve, the change in season calls for a little mood music, and Camille Saint-Saens’ classic “Danse Macabre” will spook your imagination. Featured on the recording Favorite French Spectaculars, with Leonard Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic, the piece was inspired by folk legends about the revels of the dead. The sharp summons of a solo violin is answered with a swirling symphonic waltz, and the two themes ebb and flow in playful, haunting harmony punctuated by clattering xylophone. Lilting winds give way to frantic dance, and you’ll find yourself bewitched by a fantastical music experience.
Every Friday the Library will bring you short lists of buzz-worthy books in a rotating series of popular genres.
For these and other fresh reads, stop by the second floor Fiction/AV/Teen desk. While there, talk to a Readers’ Advisor about new and old titles tailored to your taste.
New: Mystery Books
New: Thrillers and Suspense