Story told from the perspective of Quentin Clark, an Edgar Poe enthusiast. After he witnesses a very small, sad funeral on October 7, 1849 he feels compelled to find out all he can about the events that led up to the death of his idol. To help him in his quest the young Mr. Clark also searches for the "real C. Auguste Dupin," Poe''s detective who solved The Murders in the Rue Morgue. The main character gathers information about Mr. Poe''s career (in Baltimore, Richmond, and Philadelphia) as a writer, poet, and editor of literary magazines, about Poe''s loves, and about the mysterious circumstances of his death. While he does this, the reader sees how Mr. Clark''s life is affected and learns about the events of the age in America and in France.