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Kruk (The Blackest Bird — A Novel Of History And Murder 2007) (edition 2008)

by Rose Joel

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1701869,943 (2.59)14
Member:Meritie
Title:Kruk (The Blackest Bird — A Novel Of History And Murder 2007)
Authors:Rose Joel
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Collections:Biblioteka Beletrystyczna, Your library
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The Blackest Bird by Joel Rose

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English (17)  German (1)  All languages (18)
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
A good mystery in historical, and correct!!!, New York City!!

With Edgar Allen Poe as a main star of the story, you can't go wrong. ( )
  feenie1010 | Feb 22, 2015 |
I don't think I can remember dragging out my reading of a single book so long... ever. I have been working on trudging through this dismal mess of a book for three or four months now. I would pick it up every other day, read a chapter or so, and put it down.
I have read boring books before, and normally, I am still able to get through them well enough. I'm not entirely sure what it was about this one, but it inspired in me a desire NOT to read - a very unfortunate quality to possess when you are a book.

"The Blackest Bird" is about a detective in 1840's New York trying to solve the case of Mary Rogers, a young cigar-shop worker known in society for her beauty.
It is also about the creator of the Colt revolver, who isn't finding much sucess yet.
And it is about two men who are hanged for murdering their wives (well, actually not, but a little bit), who both were known through-out the lower circles as beautiful girls who sold corn on the streets.
And then Edgar Allen Poe comes in...
Confused?

This book could not decide what it wanted to be. The plot dashes from plot to plot and fails to mesh them together convincingly.
The murder of Mary Rogers is a case that goes unsolved for decades, so the book frequently tosses that main story into the background, digging it back up at frequent intervals until it is finally solved. I simply couldn't care.

For such an exciting premise, author Joel Rose does a remarkable job of making everything as boring as possible. Grave robbers, midnight escapades with Poe, New York City underworld, murder... Can YOU think of a way to make any of these things tedious and sleep-inducing?
Rose, evidentially, found 480 pages worth.

Great book to put you to sleep, but certainly not recommended for any other use. ( )
2 vote joririchardson | Jun 11, 2011 |
New York, the sweltering summer of 1841: Mary Rogers, a beautiful counter girl at a popular Manhattan tobacco shop, is found brutally murdered in the Hudson River. John Colt, scion of the firearm fortune, beats his publisher to death with a hatchet. And young Irish gang leader Tommy Coleman is accused of killing his daughter, his wife, and his wife's former lover. Charged with solving it all is High Constable Jacob Hays, the city's first detective. Capping a long and distinguished career, Hays's investigation will involve gang wars, grave robbers, and clues hidden in poems by that master of dark tales, Edgar Allen Poe.

This book sounds as if it had everything going for it, a true life murder and a connection to a famous person. Then I started to read it and gave up after 70 pages. Maybe I haven’t given it a fair go but I felt like I was reading a documentary or a newspaper report. The book had no flow and the characters were flat due to very little dialogue. I really didn’t fancy a whole book in this fashion, so I have given up and googled about the murder instead. ( )
  tina1969 | Jan 4, 2011 |
This is an intriguing, if flawed book, and it's certainly not for everyone. If you're looking for a murder mystery (and that sort of plot pacing) look elsewhere. If you enjoy languorous period character pieces, full of somewhat squalid details and a good bit of depravity, this one's for you. As inspiration for the book, Rose looks to one of the famous unsolved murders in NYC history, the killing of The Beautiful Cigar Girl, Mary Rogers in 1841. In real life, the case was chockablock with drama, and Rose doesn't manage to quite capture it, in part, I suspect, because the novel focusses on 69-year old High Constable Jacob Hays, known as Old Hays. He isn't a terribly dynamic character, although not without his plodding charm. Mary Rogers, a tobacconist clerk was a somewhat famous (notorious?) Professional Beauty. Her admiring customers included authors such as James Fenimore Cooper, Washington Irving and Edgar Allan Poe. When her mutilated body is discovered, Old Hays begins to investigate.

It is a meandering, somewhat aimless plot which never, alas, quite coalesces, and without giving anything away, the ending is unsatisfying. Throughout the novel are old, and seemingly pointless tense shifts -- some chapters in present tense, others in past -- as well as intermittent passages mimicking newspaper reports of the era. Such prose manipulation draws attention to itself, and I couldn't help but wonder what effect the author was trying to achieve. The newspaper report passages were often dull and I found myself losing interest. Whatever the author's intention, for this reader, he didn't succeed.

The portrait of NYC during this period -- that of Gangs of New York -- full of opium dens and marauding thugs such as the Short Tails and the Forty Little Thieves, is quite fascinating, and it's clear Rose has done his research (perhaps even a bit too much of it). Poe, who is center stage, for much of the novel, is a pathetic, somewhat enigmatic figure. Those seeking a novel based on Poe's life will be, I fear, disappointed. Old Hays, as noted above, is not altogether engaging.

I wish the novel had been 100 pages shorter and with a tighter focus. I think the pacing would have been much improved. Having said that, however, there were parts of the novel, such as the prison scenes with Mr. Colt (of the gun fame) and gang leader Tommy Coleman, deeply engrossing. It's clear the author has considerable talent. This may well be a case where a good writer needed a firmer, and more experienced, editor. ( )
  Laurenbdavis | Nov 8, 2010 |
This novel focuses mainly on two actual murders that took place in 1841 New York City -- a city full of gangs, political corruption, social discontent, and an inflammatory news press. How these murders touched the lives of the rich and famous and raised hue and cry all over the city is explored in the novel.

Halfway through, however, the novel shifts focus from the murders and murderers to Edgar Allan Poe, now a suspect for the murder of Mary Rogers. As a known acquaintance to murderer, John Colt, brother of Samuel Colt (of firearms fame) and to the murdered cigar store girl Mary Rogers, and as author of The Mystery of Marie Roget (based on the murder of the cigar girl), Poe gets the attention of veteran High Constable John Hays. Readers are now able to examine the life of Poe and his consumptive, child-wife, Sissy, always on the edge of poverty, eking out a meager subsistence on his writing - but is he a murderer? Hays, with his interest in 'physiognomy', seems to think he might be.

IMO, the book is stronger in its historical fiction aspects, (it has an authentic flavor), than in its investigative aspect. If you are fascinated by real-life murder cases, 19th century NY, or Poe, I would recommend it. It is well-written and obviously well-researched, bit IMO it is the history that drives the novel, not any murder mystery, murder investigation, or thrilling pursuit of criminals. ( )
  amerigoUS | May 22, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
"Prodigious detail and period speech overwhelm this slow-moving tale, while the constant shifting between present and past tense is disconcerting."
added by bookfitz | editKirkus Reviews (Jan 15, 2007)
 
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Epigraph
Who drinks the deepest? - here's to him!
--Edgar Allan Poe
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Make no mistake, the task at hand affects him deeply.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393062317, Hardcover)

"Irresistibly seductive. Murder mystery, historical novel, portal to another time; The Blackest Bird is a masterpiece." —Anthony Bourdain

In the sweltering New York City summer of 1841, Mary Rogers, a popular counter girl at a tobacco shop in Manhattan, is found brutally ravaged in the shallows of the Hudson River. John Colt, scion of the firearm fortune, beats his publisher to death with a hatchet. And young Irish gang leader Tommy Coleman is accused of killing his daughter, his wife, and his wife's former lover. Charged with solving it all is High Constable Jacob Hays, the city's first detective. At the end of a long and distinguished career, Hays's investigation will ultimately span a decade, involving gang wars, grave robbers, and clues hidden in poems by the hopeless romantic and minstrel of the night: Edgar Allan Poe.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:02 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

"In the sweltering New York City summer of 1841, three high-profile crimes of murder occur. Mary Rogers, a popular counter girl at John Anderson's segar store in Manhattan, is found brutally ravaged in the shallows of the Hudson River near Weehawken. John Colt, scion of the firearm fortune, beats his publisher Samuel Adams to death with a hatchet. And young Irish gang leader Tommy Coleman is accused of killing his daughter, wife, and her former lover, the leader of a rival gang. At the center of it all is High Constable Jacob Hays, the city's first detective, nearing the end of a long and distinguished career. His investigation will span several years, involving gang wars, graverobbers, and clues hidden in poems by that hopeless romantic and minstrel of the night: Edgar Allan Poe."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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W.W. Norton

An edition of this book was published by W.W. Norton.

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Canongate Books

An edition of this book was published by Canongate Books.

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