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Publisher's Summary

Edgar Allan Poe is an American boy in England, a child standing on the edge of mysteries. In 1819, two Americans arrive in London. Soon afterward a bank collapses. A man is found horribly mutilated on a building site and an heiress flirts with her inferiors. All the while, Poe's young schoolmaster struggles to understand what is happening before he and his loved ones are destroyed. But the truth, like the youthful Poe himself, has its origins in the New World as well as the Old, in a bitter episode of corruption during the War of 1812.

With settings ranging from the coal-scented urban jungle of late Regency London to the stark winter landscapes of a rural Gloucestershire, An Unpardonable Crime is a multi-layered literary murder mystery, a historical novel, and a love story. In addition to shedding fascinating light on Edgar Allan Poe, the book is a fast-paced suspenseful tale, filled with shocking revelations.

©2004 Andrew Taylor

Critic Reviews

"Taylor does an excellent job in portraying early 19th-century London and writes in a clear, consistent period style...." (Publishers Weekly)
"Taylor is a major thriller talent."(Time Out London)
"A remarkable thriller, elegantly written...a work of superlative fiction." (Denver Post)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anne
  • Telluride, CO, USA
  • 05-27-04


For me, this is what the audio book experience is all about. I am sure I would have loved this story in any format, as the writing is terrific. However, with an excellent reader who is perfect for the material, the experience was enhanced tremendously. For anyone who enjoys historical fiction at its best, give this one a try.

39 of 39 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Pamela
  • Sonoma, CA, United States
  • 06-10-04

keeps you on your toes!

This was a terrific read! The author spun a great tale that never let you get too comfortable that you knew where it was going. His descriptions of places were vivid, as if I could both smell his spring flowers and feel my feet stuck in the mud on a seedy street. The story shows over and over again how inconsiderate people are to one another, for little reason and to such ill-effect. The narrator was a delight!

19 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Good story great reader

I am reviewing this book because someone should. Good characters, good story, great reader. Although this writer did not go as deep into the tourtured soul as Poe ( maybe he will next time), he did manage to spin a "What happens next?" story. I really do hope that if there is a next book the author researches mans inhumanity to man.

43 of 45 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Sherrill
  • Clemson, SC, United States
  • 11-04-04

Complex Story, The BEST Narrator.

An interesting and unusual tale. Different from the usual thriller I enjoy, but captivating. This book is probably better as an audio than in print due to the outstanding reader. I've listened to over 60 audio books and this the best narration I have found to date. More than just a reader, Simon Vance is a performer. He creates a huge range of easily identifyable and believable characters that make it both enjoyable and easy to keep up with the excellent story. Some might find the story slow, I found it a refreshing change. My only complaint is the rather short ending, but that could be due to wanting the performance to continue. The only narrator I have found Vance's equal, and for different reasons, was the actress Jenna Lamia who narrated The Secret Life of Bees.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

An Unpardonable Waster of Time

First, I did not finish this book. I gave up after 7 hours. Before that, NOTHING HAPPENS. This book seems to be a narcissistic vehicle for the author to pretend he's writing a 19th century novel. There is always the sense that something's going to happen, but it never does. Well, at least not until after 7 hours of listening - which I reckon to be about half the book. There may be more to it, and if I had only given it another 30 minutes, it might have grabbed me. But all during the time I was listening, I was anxious to be reading something else. Anything else. I don't know this author's other works, but this one is not a good introduction. Oh, and Poe is just a hook. He has absolutely no relevance to the story. Even the voice of the great narrator Simon Vance cannot save this one.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Peggie
  • Lansing, KS, United States
  • 10-07-04

An Unpardonable Crime

To the wordsmiths that love beautiful language with an intriguing story, this is a book for you. The reader is a master of voices, the story interesting, the images vivid and the writing is beautiful. One of my favorites. Don't miss it.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Mark
  • 02-25-06

Wanted to like it

I love historical mysteries and was ready to enjoy this. The narrator is fantastic, he makes you forget there is only one person narrating. That's why I give this two stars. The writing is literate. The problem is the plot! It's boring, meandering, pointless, and I was wishing it would end already. I have no idea why the boy Edgar Allan Poe is a character: he has zero relevance to the plot. It was like a gimmick to get people to read the book. I think The Italian Secretary by Caleb Carr is a much better listen.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars


I absolutely agree with all the rave reviews, and especially agree that one of the reasons this book is so good is the narration.

Simon Vance also reads under the names "Richard Matthews" and "Robert Whitfield".

Try the Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Josh
  • Santa Monica, CA United States
  • 06-23-04

Sustaining Story, BUT NOT A LOT OF POE

I got this book because I was intrigued by the whole Poe connection. In spite of the pitch and some very bald self-explication at the end of the book, the Poe boy is not a very important figure in the novel. Further, young Poe isn't made into a very fascinating of a character.

While I'm dogging, just let me add that this isn't very thrilling for a thriller. Not that any murder is pardonable, but I certainly can think of less pardonable ways to perpetrate it. Thinking of Poe, I was looking for something that would aspire for some real creepiness. The characters, however, seemed more like Austen characters. shorn of their wit, meandering through a
murder mystery.

So let me tell you what it is... a nice period piece. The writing really did seem to capture the spirit of the times. The story was involving. It wasn't too complex, but that's OK for a book that is heard instead of read. Once I started it, I certainly wanted to finish it, but I wasn't compelled.

Get the book, enjoy the book, but don't expect Poe.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Jason
  • Bandera, TX, USA
  • 09-16-04


The first thing that comes to mind after listening to this book is what an exceptional job the narrator did in potraying each character. He is certainly one of the few that I can tolerate gender twisting as he does so with ease and never sounds forced. The story never closes on the facts, only character assumptions. That annoyed me slightly at the end but was probably just the result of a story ending when I wanted more.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful