the Rue Morgue
the Rue Morgue, Edgar Allan Poe
Some say it all began here in 1841. Was the birth of the modern detective story created when the tortured genius of American author Edgar Allan Poe published his short story, The Murders in the Rue Morgue in Graham's Lady's and Gentleman's Magazine (where Poe worked as an editor and reviewer) in Philadelphia? Without a doubt.
Certainly, Poe's intellectual and intriguing character, Monsieur C. Auguste Dupin, was a forerunner of Sherlock Holmes and, like the mysteries that Arthur Conan Doyle would pen 40 years later, The Murders in the Rue Morgue is presented by a narrator who is a close friend of the detective.
Poe's brilliant Parisian detective sprang from an illustrious family and Dupin uses his unique abilities to understand the criminal mind in order to solve the most puzzling of mysteries. Dupin explains his unique detection skills as "ratiocination" while some 40 years later Doyle's Sherlock Holmes's would employ "deductive reasoning" and Agatha Christie's Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot would use his "little gray cells" and keen understanding of human behavior to bring murderers to justice.
Unlike Poirot and Holmes, Dupin is a purely amateur detective and will not accept payment for his services. Later fictional PIs (including Ellery Queen and Lord Peter Wimsey) were created in the Dupin mold ... investigating murder cases purely for their own intellectual amusement.
The eccentric detective Dupin reads a newspaper account of the grisly murders of a two Parisian women. The police are completely baffled because the room where the murders took place was found locked from the inside. Since there is no apparent way that the murderer could have left the room ... how could the crime have been committed? Credible witnesses are not to be found although some neighbors of the women claim to have heard loud voices speaking in a foreign language coming from the fourth floor apartment.
Investigating the scene of the crime where the victims, a mother and daughter, were found slain and mutilated in a particularly hideous manner, Dupin finds a clue overlooked by the gendarmes. A single hair. From this small and seemingly unimportant clue ... the murders will be solved.