THE MASK OF RED DEATH appears to the third in a series of books written by renowned true crime author and scholar, Professor Harold Schecter. NEVERMORE and THE HUM BUG are numbers 1 & 2, respectively. A fourth, THE TELL-TALE CORPSE, was released some time ago, and I am unaware at this time of any newer Poe books by Professor Schecter.
There is another book out there called NEVERMORE, but was written by William Hjortsberg. It has Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini investigating murders which are committed in the style of those found in Poe’s stories.
THE MASK OF RED DEATH has Poe pulled into an investigation into the brutal, disfigurement deaths of two little girls in the summer of 1845. To make matters worse, the livers of both children are missing as well. It is suspected that New York City is dealing with a cannibal killer. As revolted as Poe is by all this, he is also darkly intrigued as well. To reveal more of what happens could possibly spoil the book for you, so I’m electing to keep my cards close to the vest here.
It is not a spoiler to let you know that famous frontier scout Kit Carson shows up to help Poe because of his experience in dealing with a certain liver-eating mountain man from Carson’s own past.
Chalk one up in the “win” column for Professor Schecter here. He’s got the tone of the period down pat and one could well believe that Poe himself had written the narrative. I can give no higher compliment than that.