Today is an important day in the history of crime fiction—and in the history of fiction. On 20 April 1841, Graham’s Magazine published “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”—arguably the first detective story. Despite Poe’s dark reputation, the story is not noir. Poe invented not only the detective story, he invented the locked-room mystery that Raymond Chandler would rebel against nearly a century later in “The Simple Art of Murder.”
No matter. Poe may have been surpassed (i.e., he has been surpassed), but he nonetheless deserves credit for being the first. Without Poe, we may never have seen the pulps. Without pulp magazines, we would likely never have seen The Maltese Falcon, Philip Marlowe, or any subsequent hardboiled fiction inspired by Hammett and Chandler.