Poe gained great recognition in the early 1840s for his creation of a type of story that has grown in popularity ever since-the detective story, or tale of ratiocination, which features an amateur sleuth who, by his superior deductive abilities, outsmarts criminals and outclasses the police. Such stories as “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and “The Mystery of Marie Roget” created a small sensation in America when they were first published. “The Purloined Letter” the third and final story in the Dupin series, has been the subject of a great deal of critical analysis since its publication as a model of ironic and tightly-structured plot.
“The Murders in the Rue Morgue” is the most popular of the three because it combines horrifying, inexplicable events with astonishing feats of deductive reasoning. The narrator, the forerunner of Dr. Watson of the Sherlock Holmes stories, meets Auguste Dupin in this story and very early recognizes that he has a double personality, a Bi-Part soul. Dupin is simultaneously wildly imaginative and coldly analytical. The reader’s first view of his deductive ability occurs when Dupin seems to read his companion’s mind by responding to something that the narrator had only been thinking. When Dupin explains the elaborate method whereby he followed the narrator’s thought processes by noticing small details and associating them, Poe begins a long history of fictional detectives who take great pleasure in recounting the means by which they solve mysteries.