Purloined Letter

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Detective story by Poe, published in his Tales (1845).

The prefect of the Paris police visits C. Auguste Dupin, scholarly amateur detective, for advice on a baffling case concerning a cabinet minister who has gained power over, and consequently practiced blackmail upon, a royal lady from whom he has stolen a letter that she cannot have made public. After several months of elaborate search, the prefect concludes that the letter is not on the minister's person or premises. Dupin soon finds the letter, explaining later that the police seek only obscure hiding places such as would be avoided by the acute minister. Dupin, therefore, visited him openly, looked in the most obvious places, and found the letter, turned inside out and disguised in an exposed card rack. Diverting the minister the next day by means of an arranged street disturbance, he substituted a facsimile and took the purloined letter with him.

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

Edgar Allan Poe (1809—1849) American short-story writer, poet, and critic

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