Poe’s Undetected Criminals
Edgar Allan Poe hid an unsolved crime and undetected criminal in each of his three detective stories, a hidden murderer in his Rue Morgue, a hidden accomplice in his Marie Roget, and a hidden lover in his Purloined Letter, with clues that lead to each of them.
In the Rue Morgue, the bearded sailor murdered his partner to keep the valuable ape for himself. His ape knows how to shave and cut a throat because the ape saw the sailor’s dead partner shave and then saw the sailor cut the partner’s throat.
Marie Roget was also killed by a sailor, her lover, but someone left her things at the scene weeks after her murder. The innkeeper rented a room to the sailor, Marie left her things in the room and the lovers went into the woods. The sailor strangled Marie, dumped her body and abandoned everything. Weeks later he returned and demanded the innkeeper help him frame the gang that stole from her on the day of the murder. Who else but the innkeeper would have Marie’s clothes, or put them where her children found them?
Dupin and Minister D___ of The Purloined Letter are twins, as Milner argued, but Dupin, our detective, is also the queen’s lover, a crime against the state. Dupin tells us his twin is handsome and his twin recognizes his handwriting in the final words of the story. Both twins have schemes day and night they hide from others. Dupin himself wrote the letter, his twin saw it and stole it, Dupin stole it back and then hid it where he wrote it, “producing” it twice from his writing desk, first for love and then for money. What better way can Dupin be both poet and chess-master?
Each of these possibilities are more arguable than not given the many clues and closing words at the hasty endings of each story. Poe considered the possibilities of meaning to be the highest pursuit, and surely hoped we would detect these crimes and untangle his motives.