A subplot involves the real Edgar Allan Poe watching over the boys in the afterlife. He works for William Shakespeare in the heavenly office that makes fortune cookies where he tries to warn the boys of impending dangers. While some reviewers thought this boring, the literary characters, mishaps, and demotions made for laugh out loud moments for me. I'll be curious what students think. My guess is they will remember more of the boys pranks and adventures than the dead Poe. Who knows.
The play on words are fun but my favorite was the prank the boys pulled on the clerk who criticized Edgar Allan Poe's work saying it was not realistic enough with all the lightning, darkness, and screams. The Poe boys (sounds like poor boys...) used her computer and overloaded the circuit breakers causing the lights to explode, espresso machines to overhead and hiss, and cashier drawers to rattle open. People screamed and cowered. They scared the wits out of her. Even if the prank was unrealistic. Just kidding. I couldn't resist.
The plot is not closely tied with Poe's "A Tell-Tale Heart" but references all sorts of classics from Sherlock Holmes, Wizard of Oz, and T.S. Eliot to name a few. The cat is named after a Poe character, Roderick Usher, and the mystery is straightforward and not complex. I did wonder if the story would tie-in with "The Tell-Tale Heart," but it is mostly a reference. There are no murders or hearts pounding beneath floorboards. Mwah-ha-ha. An entertaining book for grades 3-5.