Joseph Covino, Jr. Edgar Allan Poe’s San Francisco: Terror Tales of the City (2005) 297 pp. [tpo]
This novel, set in contemporary San Francisco, is a pastiche of Edgar Allan Poe’s stories of suspense, imitating his style, characterizations, plots, and even some characters’ names. It is a first-person narrative, told by a writer named Nicolino, who meets a hypnotist, Dr. Vincent Valdemar, during an encounter with a deranged sailor on the Golden Gate Bridge. After the sailor commits suicide by jumping off the bridge—in order to escape from his visions of a murderous orangutan bent on slaughtering him—Dr. Valdemar attempts to explain to Nicolino how a man could be driven to such lengths by his subconscious mind. Nicolino agrees to let Valdemar hypnotize him. At the same time, a serial killer, known as the Scarabus Killer, who specializes in murders inspired by Poe’s tales, returns to San Francisco. Fearing that Nicolino is somehow involved, his girlfriend, Lenore, enlists the aid of another hypnotist, Dr. Kerwin Usher, to help her understand what is going on and to get Nicolino away from Valdemar. With the additional help of a retired chief inspector, C. Dupin, who had investigated the original Scarabus killings, Lenore and Nicolino uncover the real killer in a dramatic climax atop Coit Tower.
Setting: San Francisco