Tea Tonic and Toxin: Mystery and Thriller Podcast and Book Club

THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE

by Edgar Allan Poe

Tea, Tonic, and Toxin is a book club and podcast for people obsessed with mysteries and thrillers. In reading, we’ll explore ideas about the books and about ourselves. We’ll start with Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.”

 

“The Murders in the Rue Morgue” may be the first detective story. Set in Paris, the story features amateur detective Auguste Dupin and his unnamed sidekick, who narrates how Dupin solves a gruesome double murder.

 

How to read it: Find a copy on your bookshelf, buy it on Amazon, or read it for free (courtesy of Project Gutenberg).

 

Estimated reading time: 1 hour. After you finish reading, check out the questions below!

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

  1. The first pages of the story introduce the kind of analysis that makes detection possible. Did this intro draw you in, frustrate you, or something else entirely?

  2. Why do you think the narrator compares chess and whist? What games do you enjoy playing, and what particular traits do you think they draw upon?

  3. Dupin excels at the game of observation. He’s able to access “recesses of thought altogether inaccessible” to ordinary men. For example, he seems able to read the narrator’s mind on their stroll through the streets of Paris. How do you feel when people try to read your mind? How often are they right? How often are they wrong?

  4. The narrator spends a lot of time drawing distinctions between types of intellect, such as concentration, calculation, and analysis. Later, Dupin describes the prefect’s intellect like this: “He’s too cunning to be profound. In his wisdom is no stamen. It is all head and no body … He has attained his reputation of ingenuity: the way he has of denying that which is, and explaining that which is not.” What do you think about these distinctions?

  5. Trivia: Poe’s short story may be the first “locked room” mystery. Then again, as with many firsts, this “first” is contested. (Rest assured that we’ll read several other locked room mysteries as we make our way chronologically through the best of the best books in the mystery and thriller genre.)

  6. How did Dupin and the narrator become friends? Why does the narrator give “[himself] up to his wild whims with a perfect abandon”? Who is this unnamed narrator, anyway? Does he feel like a real person?

  7. Dupin is a forerunner of Sherlock Holmes, Sam Spade, Hercule Poirot, and others. He’s a reclusive outsider with keen powers of observation and plenty of time to kick back and think. His trusty sidekick narrates the tale and details of the protagonist’s superior intelligence without offering many insights or observations himself. And clues in the story give readers the chance to solve the mystery.

  8. How did Dupin solve the crime? Did you solve it? Is it possible for readers to solve it? In other words, many mysteries use a “fair play” model, where the reader has a good a chance at solving the mystery as the detective. Is that the case here?

  9. “Chekhov’s Gun” is a concept that describes how every element of a story contributes to the whole. Chekhov wrote: ‘If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off.” The idea here is that strong narratives should not include extraneous ideas.

    However, Poe breaks new ground here — in mystery narratives, Poe essentially says, the usual rules don’t apply. The rifle doesn’t need to go off in chapter two, chapter three, or ever. Instead, the rifle, like the gold coins in the story, can be a red herring. Therein lies the challenge — for the detective and for the reader.

  10. Let’s talk about moral responsibility — the moral responsibility of the police to find the truth and apprehend the actual culprit (vs. conducting what Dupin calls a “shell of an examination” and imprisoning the wrong man) and the moral responsibility of the sailor.

TEASERS & TIDBITS

ABOUT TEA, TONIC & TOXIN

Tea, Tonic, and Toxin is a book club and podcast for people who love mysteries, thrillers, introspection, and good conversation. Each month, your hosts, Sarah Harrison and Carolyn Daughters, will discuss a game-changing mystery or thriller from the 19th and 20th centuries. Together, we’ll see firsthand how the genre evolved.

 

Along the way, we’ll entertain ideas, prospects, theories, doubts, and grudges, along with the occasional guest. And we hope to entertain you, dear friend. We want you to experience the joys of reading some of the best mysteries and thrillers ever written.

Tea, Tonic, and Toxin Book Club and Podcast - Mysteries and Thrillers

YOUR HOSTS

Sarah Harrison - Host of Tea Tonic and Toxin (Mystery and Thriller Podcast and Book Club)

SARAH HARRISON

HOST

Sarah loves getting to the bottom of any mystery having to do with life, love, work, play, personality, or process dysfunction.

Carolyn Daughters - Hot of Tea Tonic and Toxin (Mystery and Thriller Podcast and Book Club))

CAROLYN DAUGHTERS

Host

Carolyn has loved mysteries ever since she and her sister started the highly successful CarMich Detective Agency when they were kids.

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