[The Beautiful Cigar Girl] recounts the story of Manhattan tobacco store clerk Mary Rogers, a mysterious beauty whose posse of admirers made her a minor celebrity in 1841 in various newspapers’ society pages. The discovery that year of her mutilated corpse fueled a public outcry and a newspaper circulation war, as well as a fictional magazine serial by Edgar Allan Poe featuring his famous detective [C. Auguste] Dupin speculating on the murder of working-class Parisian “Marie Rogêt.” Poe rightly deduced that Mary wasn’t a victim of the gang violence that plagued New York City in the absence of an effective police presence. But he came late to the accepted theory that Mary had died of a botched abortion and had to tweak his final installment to maintain his and Dupin’s reputations.Poe’s story, of course, was “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt,” published in three installments in the Ladies’ Companion and acclaimed by Wikipedia as “the first murder mystery revolving around a real crime.” And its protagonist, Dupin, became a model for many fictional sleuths to come, including Sherlock Holmes.
Foxwell’s interview with Daniel Stashower is set to commence at 11 a.m. ET tomorrow, and will be Webcast by WEBR radio in Fairfax, Virginia. Click here to listen.
Stashower, you may recall, is also the Edgar Award-winning author of Teller of Tales: The Life of Arthur Conan Doyle (1999), and he’s penned three delightful novels (including 1999’s The Dime Museum Murders) in which magician Harry Houdini and his brother Dash Hardeen solve murders in late-19th-century Manhattan.
UPDATE: If you missed hearing the Stashower interview live, you can still listen to it via interviewer Foxwell’s Web site. There’s a link to the MP3 file near the bottom of the page.