Against Odds

A Detective Story

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Author: Lawrence L. Lynch (Emma Murdoch Van Deventer)
Published: 1894
Language: English
Wordcount: 102,985 / 284 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 78.1
LoC Category: PS
Downloads: 8,725
Added to site: 2009.08.12 24975

Follow the adventures of a Secret Service agent at the Chicago World’s Fair.

Show Excerpt

ool teacher myself, when I'm to hum.'

'Indeed! It's a very interesting and useful work--labouring for souls. Ah, they come from Marshall, in Iowa.'

'Don't say! Why, I----'

'But they did not arrive; their train had been delayed. But, as I was about to tell you, if I had not chanced to have in my possession a roll of bills, put in my care by the father of one of the younger lads, I might have been kept outside for some time longer.'

'How's that?'

I had been a little puzzled at this dialogue, and was losing my interest somewhat when it reached this point, and I pricked up my ears anew, while I continued to copy inscriptions and jot down memoranda.

'It seems almost like confessing to a breach of trust; but there seemed no other way, and so, stepping to one side, I took out the package of money belonging to my young friend. I had counted it in his father's presence, and knew that it contained on the very outside of the roll a two dollar bill. I took this and procured my ti


Average Rating of 3.8 from 4 reviews: ****
Leah A. Zeldes

Chicago's 1892 World's Columbian Exposition provides an exotic setting for this detective novel, featuring a set of daring jewel thieves, counterfeiters and kidnappers who take advantage of the fair's throngs to work their nefarious deeds.

Carl Masters, the narrator, is a detective sent to ferret out the criminals. Along with tracking the evil-doers, he admires the fair's wonders and befriends several fair goers who have been innocently drawn into the snares of the plotters.

The story moves along well, though more of a procedural than a mystery -- the crooks are pretty obvious from the outset. It's a fun read, especially for history buffs, with tantalizing glimpses of the fabulous White City.


The story takes place at the end of the nineteenth century at the World’s Fair in Chicago. Carl Masters is one of a legion of secret service men – employed to keep the multitudes safe, and be on the watch for the Criminal gangs drawn to the fair. As soon as he arrives Masters is drawn into the first of several mysteries – which eventually weave together. At the heart of the story is June Jenrys, who appears to have been targeted by a strange young woman – but for what purpose? She and her Quaker aunt are befriended by Masters as he sets about discovering the truth about the small brunette who keeps throwing herself in Miss Jenrys’s way. There is also a Jewel robbery, some counterfeiting, a kidnapping and a disappearance for Masters to sink his teeth in.
Set against the back drop of the world’s fair this is readable little novel in the tradition of those old fashioned story tellers such as Conan Doyle although I don’t claim it is as good as that. I did find it took me a little time to get into this one – and that may have been because of this unusual setting. I realised I knew nothing about The World’s Fair – although I had heard of it. I could conjure up no mental images – and so struggled at first to “picture” the events and the places – in fact I don’t know if I ever really got over that. I googled for images to help me – as my mind had the characters floating about in white space as I couldn’t conjure up the right kind of setting. The fair was quite obviously massive – and simply teemed with thousands of people and so it amused me to see how often Masters managed to bump into people just at the right time. All in all however this was a diverting and rather enjoyable read, and I may well download more by this author one of these days.


The author tries to imagine what a detective does in his daily work: mainly suspense. The case works out by itself, indeed, with the detective almost being a bystander, so in the end it comes close to reality. What's interesting if you're not into the included romance is the extensive description of the Chicago World's Fair of 1893.

MIke Ruppel

A bit different than modern novels. Really enjoyable. If you read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle then give this a try!

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