Author(s): Andrew Taylor
Interweaving real and fictional elements, The American Boy is a major new literary historical crime novel in the tradition of An Instance of the Fingerpost and Possession. Edgar Allan Poe is the American boy, a child standing on the edge of mysteries. In 1819 two Americans arrive in London, and soon afterwards a bank collapses. A man is found dead and horribly mutilated on a building site. An heiress flirts with her inferiors. A poor schoolmaster struggles to understand what is happening before it destroys him and those he loves. But the truth, like the youthful Poe himself, has its origins in the new world as well as the old. The American Boy is a 21st-century novel with a 19th-century voice. It is both a multilayered literary murder mystery and a love story, its setting ranging from the coal-scented urban jungle of late Regency London to the stark winter landscapes of rural Gloucestershire. And at its centre is the boy who does not really belong anywhere, an actor who never learns the significance of his part.