St. Martin's, May 2002, 24.95, 336 pp.
When his spouse died, Edgar Allan Poe drowns his sorrows by frequenting the local bars and over indulging. His disenchanted former protégé Augie Dubbins comes to Philadelphia to find Poe. Augie finds a shell of his mentor whose depression is bone deep. However, Augie has some good news. The Quintillian Society head Dr. Alfred K. Brunrichter wants Poe to come to Pittsburgh as his houseguest while providing lectures to the rank and file members.
When Poe and Dubbins arrive at their host's mansion, they are stunned as Brunrichter looks like Edgar's twin. The doctor wants Poe and his cohort to investigate the disappearance of several women in the last month or so. As Brunrichter keeps Poe in a virtual state of stupor with ether, Dubbins begins a search for the lost ladies. However, when Dubbins is accused of murder, Poe shakes off the daze to start his own inquiries including into that of his benefactor.
Though well written, DISQUIET HEART is radically different in mood and tone than the superb ON NIGHT'S SHORE. The sleuthing by Poe and Dubbins comes late in the tale, as the novel is more a historical fiction than a mystery. Instead readers glimpse a depressed pessimistic Poe spiraling into addiction. Still, the story line grips the audience as the atmosphere of 1847 Pittsburgh and Philadelphia vividly seems real through the actions of Poe and Dubbins. Though very gloomy, readers will appreciate Randall Silvis' latest tell tale Poe adventure.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner