RARA-AVIS: Re: 19th Century Washington

From: Kevin Burton Smith ( kvnsmith@thrillingdetective.com)
Date: 19 Dec 2001

Bill Hagen wrote:

>I've recently come across a first rate suspense writer, Owen Parry, who
>centers his series (2 so far) on a special agent employed by the Lincoln
>Administration to ferret out crimes and plots among abolitionists...

That special agent just has to be based on Allen Pinkerton, who had originally been hired because he himself was an abolitionist, and who actually thwarted an early plot to assassinate Lincoln. In fact, the founder of the Pinkertons had been a radical activist, deeply involved in trade unions, the suffrage movement and like, who had fled to North America from Scotland one step ahead of the law.

Ironic then, that after his death, by the time Hammett was an op, the Pinkertons were regularly hiring themselves out as strikebreakers and thugs for hire, and had developed a reputation that must have had the old leftie spinning in his grave.

I just found this out recently, thanks to Max Collins' honking big new slab of a book, THE HISTORY OF MYSTERY. It's full of tons of pictures, mostly book covers and stuff, but it's also got some great out-of-the-blue stuff in it on Pinkerton, Chandler, Hammett and all the usual suspects.


Kevin Burton Smith The Thrilling Detective Web Site http://www.thrillingdetective.com
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