Where was the purloined letter hidden? Read Edgar Allan Poe’s short story and check out our new mystery and thriller book club and podcast: Tea, Tonic, and Toxin!
Where Was the Purloined Letter Hidden?
In Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Purloined Letter,” G-, the prefect of the Paris police, visits amateur detective C. Auguste Dupin. G- tells Dupin about a case involving a letter that has been stolen from the queen’s boudoir by Minister D—, who is now blackmailing the queen. What’s clear is that Minister D— must have the letter close at hand so he can produce it at a moment’s notice if needed.
G- says he and his detectives have searched every inch of D—’s townhouse. They’ve examined furniture, drawers, walls, wallpaper, floors, carpets, books, packages, and parcels and have found nothing. They’ve looked everywhere the letter could obviously be hidden.
Here’s where the story gets good. See, Dupin mentions a game of puzzles played on a map. One player picks a city or river from the map. Other players have to guess the place the first player chose. Dupin says unskilled players guess names shown on the map that appear in small print. More experienced players choose large-print names because they know people are more likely to miss things that are “excessively obvious.”
In other words, the truth is hiding in plain sight. For example, the letter was originally right in front of the royal spouse, but he couldn’t see it. Later, the letter was in front of G–, who couldn’t see it. The thief, D–, also doesn’t recognize that Dupin swapped letters (essentially, Dupin pulled D’s own “hiding in plain sight” trick).
So much has to do with a person’s ability to truly see.
The scientific principle of inertia basically states that things like to be still, or inert. It’s easier for a small body to get moving than it is for a large body. Dupin says a person with a big brain will have more trouble getting started on something than a person with a small brain, who tends to get nowhere, fast.
Tea, Tonic, and Toxin Book Club and Podcast
Tea, Tonic, and Toxin is a book club and podcast for people who are (or will soon become) obsessed with mysteries and thrillers. Each month, your hosts, Sarah Harrison and me, will discuss a game-changing mystery and thriller. We’ll start with stories and novels from the 19th century.
We invite you to join us in reading and exploring these mysteries and thrillers, all of which have shaped the genre and stood the test of time. You can check out the current book club and podcast schedule here and subscribe here.
In a Nutshell
WHAT TO READ: “The Purloined Letter” by Edgar Allan Poe
READING TIME: 1 hour
PODCAST LAUNCH: February 2022
START READING: Bleak House, our March and April selection — it’s amazing and big!
Visit Tea, Tonic, and Toxin website and subscribe to the podcast!