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Cover image from goodreads.com

It’s Halloween, and life is grim for twenty-three-year-old Dimitri Petrov. It’s the one-year anniversary of his parents’ deaths, he’s stuck on page one thousand of his Rasputin zombie novel, and he makes his living writing obituaries.

But things turn from bleak to terrifying when Dimitri gets a last-minute assignment to cover a séance at the reputedly haunted Aspinwall Mansion.

There, Dimitri meets Lisa, a punk-rock drummer he falls hard for. But just as he’s about to ask her out, he unwittingly unleashes malevolent forces, throwing him into a deadly mystery. When Dimitri wakes up, he is in the morgue—icy cold and haunted by a cryptic warning given by a tantalizing female spirit.

As town residents begin to turn up gruesomely murdered, Dimitri must play detective in his own story and unravel the connections among his family, the Aspinwall Mansion, the female spirit, and the secrets held in a pair of crumbling antiquarian books. If he doesn’t, it’s quite possible Lisa will be the next victim.

(Story synopsis from goodreads.com)

Poe by J. Lincoln Fenn was a story that was actually found by my husband as he was browsing through the “store” on our Kindle. I think what really caught his attention was the title “Poe” because of the fact that as an English teacher I have always enjoyed teaching Edgar Allan Poe stories and poems. We actually weren’t sure if there was a connection to Poe the author and “Poe” the book, but I decided to give it a go anyhow.

Poe is actually a story whose main character, Dimitri, is still trying to find his place in the world. Dimitri has suffered great loss at a young age by losing both of his parents in a car accident while he is in his senior year of college. When we find Dimitri, he is an unenthusiastic obituary writer for the local paper. He does find great pleasure in learning the life stories of the people who have died, even if most of the information will never make it to print. Dimitri has developed an over-the-phone relationship with the receptionist at one of the local nursing homes, Lisa, to help him with his information. He seems to be haunted by the short obituary that was written about his parents; part of this being that he, as their son, could not have added much more to their memories.

Throughout the beginning of the story, Dimitri is essentially harassed by his co-workers, and especially by his boss’s son, Nate, who is also his editor. Nate and Dimitri are then sent on assignment to cover a seance at a local “haunted” house which has been the site of great tragedy over the town’s history. Lisa surprisingly joins Dimitri for this Halloween-set seance. The seance gives these visitors more than planned, and at the end of it all, Dimitri wakes up in the morgue.

The story gets even stranger, and yet seems to make more sense, as the reader is taken through a mystery. Not only is Dimitri at the center of this mystery (along with his dead parents), but Lisa’s brother Daniel and a ghost, who is named Poe by Dimitri, also play major parts in uncovering the strange murders that begin happening in the town of New Goshen. Dimitri’s great, unfinished novel about a zombie-like Rasputin also plays a role in uncovering these mysteries. It would seem that Dimitri is the only one who can get to the bottom of what appears to be the work of a serial-killer. But he will only be able to figure it all out if he uses the help of his resident ghost, Poe.

While the tie to the author, Edgar Allan Poe, is only through the reference to “The Tell-Tale Heart” and the subsequent naming of the ghost, Poe was still a great mystery. Poe gave the reader not only a possible serial-killer on the loose, but also some interesting ties to magic and occult beliefs. Poe was a fast moving story that kept the reader in its grips as we tried to figure out how Dimitri could stop all of the madness from reaching Lisa and her family any further than it already has.

I’m not sure if this book was the first of a series, but I look forward to reading more from J. Lincoln Fenn, and I certainly wouldn’t mind finding out more about Dimitri and Lisa.