This story is told from the first person perspective of Poe. While he is sitting with his friend Dupin pondering over the Murders of the Rue Morgue, the Chief of police walks in to consult with them on an “odd” matter.
A letter was stolen from the royal apartment for blackmail purposes. The royal in question is a female, the thief is one of the ministers of state. He boldly stole the letter while in the presence of the lady. The minister has been using the letter to wield greater political power than to which he would otherwise be entitled. The royal entrusted this matter with the Chief.
The police has searched the minister’s residence in secret for 3 months. The Chief even went as far as to have the minister “waylaid.” Dupin could given the man no better advice than what the police had already done. A month later the police chief returned having failed yet again. When the man desperately offered 50,000 of his own francs to get a hold of the letter, Dupin presented the letter (securing the payment first).
After the Chief leaves, Poe and Dupin go through a psychological discussion as to why the police failed. Basically the police thought the minister was stupid because he is a poet and therefore only checked places a “stupid” person would conceal things. However the minister disguised the letter and hid it in plain sight.
I missed it as well!! The policy were very very thorough in their search. I was prepared for some complicated, fancy mumbo jumbo. The obvious totally eluded me. So my advice is to check the obvious things first. This is a great story especially if you need a quick read for lunch or on the subway.