William Burns

1861 – 1932

Portrait of William Burns

Bain News Service photo

The story of the real-life, legendary detective hero reached its climax in the early twentieth century, and no one was better suited to making that climax as dramatic as possible as William J. Burns. The onetime tailor from Columbus, Ohio, reveled in fame and praise of his dazzling exploits against counterfeiters, corrupt syndicates and terrorist bombers.

Yet his maverick, frontier lawman style was increasingly at odds with a changing and maturing world of law enforcement, and he ended his career battling controversy and scandal more often than crooks and villains. An irrepressable showman and perhaps a show-off, for all his faults, Burns was one of the most versatile and brilliant mystery-solvers of all time.

Read more about Burns in Brilliant Deduction, or search the blog.

Photo from the George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. [LC-USZ62-101093]

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