In several senses, the 1841 killing of Mary Rogers was America's first great media murder. When the former Manhattan "cigar girl" was found floating in the Hudson River in July, she was already renowned throughout the city for her beauty and for a previous unexplained disappearance. But in the tabloid fever of penny newspaper wars, her posthumous fame swept the nation. To capitalize on the frenzy, struggling writer Edgar Allan Poe constructed "The Mystery of Marie Roget," a thinly veiled fiction based on the case. In The Beautiful Cigar Girl, Edgar winner Daniel Stashower artfully interweaves the almost equally tragic stories of a doomed young woman and a deeply troubled genius.
Mr. Stashower, a mystery writer and the author of Teller of Tales, a biography of Arthur Conan Doyle, captures both the pathos and the absurdity of Poe’s often self-imposed predicaments. There was no opportunity, no matter how golden, that Poe could not subvert and no benefactor or potential ally he could not pick a fight with. — The New York Times