Daniel Stashower,
The Beautiful Cigar Girl
(Dutton, 2006)

Some crimes go forever unsolved and develop another life as sources of speculation, inspiring books, films and other ventures. Examples of these include such famous cases as those of Jack the Ripper, Lizzie Borden and the Black Dahlia.

Another not quite so well known in our time was the 1841 murder of Mary Rogers, a young woman in New York City, which attracted wide journalistic attention at the time and became an inspiration for numerous writers, Edgar Allan Poe chief among them.

Daniel Stashhower, a biographer of Arthur Conan Doyle, has resurrected the story of Mary Rogers, Poe and other luminaries of the time in this fascinating book. True, much of the ground has been covered before, the book focuses as much (if not more) on Poe than on Rogers and there is no resolution to the murder.

But Stashower, who has also penned mysteries involving Sherlock Holmes and Harry Houdini, knows how to tell a story that holds one's interest, replete with little tidbits about the times in which the case unfolded and the various personalities involved. Finding sufficient detail for a book of this kind is a daunting research task and the author acknowledges the scholarship of those who went before him and provides a full bibliography of his sources for those who may choose to delve more into the case.

by John R. Lindermuth
3 February 2007

Buy it from Amazon.com.