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The Somnambulist and the Detective

The Murderer and the Fortune Teller

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Author: Allan Pinkerton
Published: 1875
Language: English
Wordcount: 64,121 / 183 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 80
LoC Category: PS
Downloads: 1,353
Added to site: 2009.12.10 25989

The mental characteristics of Allan Pinkerton were judgment as to facts, knowledge of men, the ability to concentrate his faculties on one subject, and the persistent power of will. A mysterious problem of crime, against which his life was devoted, presented to his thought, was solved almost in an instant, and seemingly by his intuitions. With half-closed eyes he saw the scene in which the wrong was done, read every movement of the criminals, and reached invariably the correct conclusion as to their conduct and guilt.

Show Excerpt

e replied, 'I shall allow only one or two of my personal friends to come in. There will be no harm in admitting them, for they will be an additional protection in case of any attempt on the bank.'

"I could offer no objection, and so we parted. I was gone about a week, when, having settled my business in Greenville, I returned here. The first news I received was, that George Gordon had been found murdered in the bank that morning, the crime having been committed the night before. I will now let Mr. Peter Gordon, George's uncle, tell the circumstances, so far as he knows them."

Mr. McGregor was a careful, methodical man, about sixty years of age. He always spoke directly to the point, and in his story, he had evidently made no attempt to draw conclusions, or to bias my judgment in any way. Nevertheless, he showed that he was really affected by young Gordon's murder, and I saw that I should get more really valuable assistance from him, than from both of the other two. Mr. Gordon was greatly excited

Reader Reviews

Average Rating of 4 from 1 reviews: ****

Two novellas from Allan Pinkerton, who set up Pinkerton's Detective Agency. They’re not ‘whodunnits’, but more like Columbo, in that we follow the efforts of the detectives in bringing the criminal to book. I didn’t find the stories particularly gripping, but I hate Columbo - anyone who enjoys the procedure rather than the mystery will probably enjoy them, and for that reason, I'm giving it 4 stars, although for me personally, it only rated a 3. It’s an interesting look at an early form of detection - the methods used would be considered distinctly unethical today.

The first novella concerns the murder of a bank teller, and the subsequent attempts to make him confess, which mainly seem to involve driving the murderer insane. The second also involves a murder, but this is secondary to the efforts to release a woman from his hold, which involve using a fortune-teller to persuade her to leave. Along the way, a couple of romances are also resolved in a satisfactory manner.



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