Disclosure. This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free. All opinions are my own.
I have received a free e-copy of the book The Girl Behind the Wall by Bruce Wetterau to review. You may find out more about the author on his website.
Here is the book blurb.
Did Edgar Allan Poe know more about murder than he revealed in his bizarre stories of murder and mayhem? Was he in fact guilty of killing a girlfriend in a fit of rage many years before he became famous? Bruce Wetterau’s taut thriller weaves a murder mystery worthy of Poe himself as it follows Poe through actual events in the last months of his life. The year 1849 saw the real-life Poe dealing with his alcoholism, failing health, poverty, and painful memories of his recently deceased child-bride wife. His life had become a psychological pressure cooker, with severe anxiety attacks and bouts of strange hallucinations. The Girl Behind the Wall opens in early 1849. Poe is being tormented by frightening visions about murdering Annabel Lee while he was a student at the University of Virginia. Afraid of the hangman’s noose, Poe knows he can never tell anyone about the repressed memories haunting him. But a newspaper reporter named Sam Reynolds has overheard him talking erratically about Annabel while in a drunken stupor. That a man as famous as Poe could be a murderer would be the scoop of a lifetime and Reynolds will do anything to get it. Flash forward nearly two hundred years to the present. The book’s hero, Clay Cantrell, accidentally uncovers damning evidence–Annabel’s skeleton and a locket from Poe–behind an old brick wall at the university. While the mystery of Annabel’s murder and Poe’s strange visions unfolds in flashbacks, Cantrell and friends launch a search of their own for the truth about Annabel’s death. But another murder mystery much closer to home overtakes them when a cold-blooded serial killer named the Raven claims his first victim, a UVA coed. Obsessed with Poe, the Raven stages his murders with clever ties to Poe’s works. Clay tries to stop the murders and soon winds up in the Raven’s cross hairs. Though this isn’t the first vicious killer Clay–an ex-Army Ranger–has fought, he doesn’t know the Raven has a diabolical plan to execute him. Will Poe finally reveal the truth about Annabel, or will he take the secret to his grave? Can Clay escape the Raven’s plot, find what drives the Raven’s murderous obsession with Poe, and at last answer the question, who killed Annabel Lee?
That is a long blurb and I initially wondered if not having read any of Poe’s works would impact on my appreciation of the story. I’m not sure that I have even seen any films based on them either. But not so, there is plenty of information regarding Poe including references to his works throughout the tale. The author has certainly put a lot of research into his story.
This is the third title in the Clay Cantrell series but works fine as a stand-alone read. I haven’t read either of the two previous titles.
The story starts in 1849 with New York reporter Samuel Reynolds discovering Poe drunk amongst the garbage in an alley, muttering about Annabel. We then skip to the present day where Clay Cantrell and friend Mac Harper discover a 190 year old skeleton walled up at the University of Virginia. A locket on the skeleton is inscribed with “My beloved Annabel. Your devoted Eddy. Oct 1826”.
Putting two and two together, Clay and his friends start researching into Poe’s history, to try to determine whether it was Poe who killed Annabel.
Meanwhile, modern day serial killer, the Raven strikes and all his murders are staged with links to Poe’s works. For instance , The Raven is a famous poem by Poe.
The story continues to switch back and forth between the present day and 1849.
The Girl Behind the Wall is available on Amazon in both kindle format and paperback. A good mystery, with some great twists.
The book also contains a timeline of key events in Poe’s Life in 1849 to show where fact has cleverly been woven into the fiction.