This book is a fascinating look at Edgar Allen Poe, the New York City of the 1840's, and the still unsolved murder of the "beautiful cigar girl", Mary Rogers. Stashower has written a very readable book, similar in style to Erik Larson (Thunderstruck and The Devil in the White City). He uses the murder of Mary Rogers to explore New York and gives the reader a feel for the era while examining how murders were investigated in that time.
Poe was familiar with the case, and wrote one of his stories ("The Mystery of Marie Roget") in an attempt to solve the mystery. His character, C. Auguste Dupin from "The Murders in the Rue Morgue", examined a "coincidentally similar" case in Paris.
Stashower paints a fairly sympathetic portrait of Poe, and points out that Poe's Dupin was the inspiration for many later detectives - including Sherlock Holmes. In reading this book, I realized just how lacking my knowledge of Poe was. I need to read more Poe.