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It’s a clever idea to have 19th-century mystery writer Edgar Allan Poe (John Cusack) probing a series of murders that appear to be copied from his stories.

First encountered cadging booze and railing drunkenly against the world in a Baltimore tavern, Cusack’s Poe is an engagingly raffish presence. Luke Evans plays the local detective who ropes him into investigating the killings. So far, so good, but when the killer threatens Poe’s sweetheart (Alice Eve) and challenges him to solve the crimes, the plot becomes sillier and sillier and the frantic direction doesn’t help matters.

Yet there is a lot to enjoy and Poe himself would surely relish the fate of critic Rufus Griswold (John Warnaby) – Poe’s bitter enemy in real life – who here meets a particularly grisly end beneath a swinging pendulum blade.