Happy birthday, Allan Pinkerton!

Posted by Matt Kuhns on Jul 21, 2013

On this day, 194 years ago: Allan Pinkerton born in Glasgow, Scotland. Happy birthday to the most famous of many by that name; you may not have been the first Allan Pinkerton (even in your own family), but you’re definitely number one in the history books.

Anyone in Glasgow (or perhaps Chicago) who feels like a 200th birthday commemoration would be appropriate has six whole years to work on it.

Tags: ,

comment (Comments Off on Happy birthday, Allan Pinkerton!)     

 

Allan Pinkerton’s Civil War reputation

Posted by Matt Kuhns on Jul 10, 2013

Front cover of The Hour of PerilI recently finished reading Daniel Stashower’s recent work The Hour of Peril, about Allan Pinkerton and the “Baltimore Plot” against Lincoln. I quite enjoyed his examination of the murder of Mary Rogers in The Beautiful Cigar Girl, and was naturally intrigued by this new title; I’m happy to report that The Hour of Peril exceeded my expectations. Having gone over much of the same territory in my own research, I wasn’t certain how much I would be able to get out of the book but Stashower included an impressive amount of new detail, and not only on the Baltimore Plot. I was surprised and fascinated at how much was new to me about Pinkerton’s early life and first cases; admittedly it’s been a couple of years since I read them, but I made notes on the major studies of Allan Pinkerton and I’m certain that a number of points in The Hour of Peril were absent from all three. On that basis, alone, I can heartily recommend this new volume to anyone interested in learning more about the Pinkertons’ founder.

It’s also, as advertised, a tightly paced but very detailed examination of “The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War,” i.e. the Baltimore Plot.

The general outline of events in The Hour of Peril does, I found with some relief, essentially match up with the very condensed version in Brilliant Deduction. But this expanded account was well worth reading (and not only for Stashower’s effort at restoring a little bit of life to the figure of Kate Warne, commendable as that was). It provides much food for thought about how to interpret the much-debated questions of both the Plot, itself, and Allan Pinkerton’s service to his adopted country in the Civil War.

Read more…

Tags: , , ,

comment (Comments Off on Allan Pinkerton’s Civil War reputation)     

 

Great photos of great detectives, no. 5

Posted by Matt Kuhns on Jun 1, 2013

Allan Pinkerton, and Abraham Lincoln. How much more do you even need to say?

Allan Pinkerton, Abraham Lincoln and John McClernand

Photo by Alexander Gardner; Smithsonian Collection

…I suppose an alternate caption might have Lincoln saying something like “guys, really, the whole ‘posing with one hand jammed into your coat’ thing was never that cool to begin with; it’s 1862 now, neither of you is Napoleon, and you just look silly…”

Tags: , , ,

comment (Comments Off on Great photos of great detectives, no. 5)     

 

The Kuhns library of mystery

Posted by Matt Kuhns on Feb 12, 2013

My last name is not incredibly common. Growing up, other than my father’s few living relatives, I knew of one other family with the same name, though strangely enough I was not even the only Matt Kuhns at Iowa State University upon entering college. Still, it’s rare enough that people encountering it as text have to guess pronunciation more often than not, let’s put it that way.

Thus I was immediately intrigued, last year, when I encountered it in the new book area at the library. One Eleanor Kuhns had written a historical mystery, A Simple Murder, set in a Shaker community. I checked it out just for the novelty—I don’t believe I had ever encountered a book by another Kuhns before—though I quite enjoyed the story and can certainly recommend it.

This was, meanwhile, amusing enough given that I had recently completed the manuscript for my own (nonfiction) work on detection and mysteries in times past. Imagine my surprise, however, when some months later I conducted an online search to see what information might be turning up about my own book and discovered another Kuhns writing on the subject of detectives.

Luke Benjamin Kuhns, born like myself in one of the Midwestern “I” states, apparently now lives in London and has written a number of Sherlock Holmes stories among other works. Given that I love London, and collect Sherlock Holmes books, I’m envious. I’ve not read any of his writing, yet, but I hope to remedy that soon. Likewise I see that Eleanor Kuhns’s amateur investigator Will Rees has returned and will have to search out the further installments of his series. (As a sidenote, the way that Rees is drawn into the role of detective by chance but gradually develops a reputation as something of an informal expert has a surprising basis in history; another tradesman in the young United States started his eventual professional detective career in much the same way.)

Perhaps some day we can all have a very exclusive authors’ conference. 😉

Tags: , , , ,

comment (2)     

 

Baltimore 1861: Lincoln, Pinkerton, and Burns?

Posted by Matt Kuhns on Jan 29, 2013

One of my favorite fictional detective works is the 1990s NBC series, Homicide. Though in fact it was originally based on a nonfiction work of the same name by David Simon, also about Baltimore homicide detectives (and also excellent).

More than 130 years before Pembleton, G, Crosetti, et al., Baltimore also played host to a couple of notable events in the history of their real-life predecessors. Events that are all the more interesting for their strange juxtaposition in that particular place and time…

In January and February of 1861, the founder of the legendary Pinkerton’s National Detective Agency was deep in the midst of what history records as The Baltimore Plot. In Allan Pinkerton’s mind, at least, this was a clear, present and very real danger to the life of president-elect Abraham Lincoln; per subsequent criticism it was an imaginary bogeyman threat born of empty rumor and Pinkerton’s overcautiousness (and/or self-promotional hyperbole). I recorded my own assessment in the book, but regardless of what The Baltimore Plot was not, it was a significant and memorable episode in the history of one of the most accomplished detectives in history, tied to the city of Baltimore in early 1861.

Which represents a fascinating coincidence given the other event in Baltimore, in early 1861, of enormous significance in the history of a celebrated American detective.

Read more…

Tags: , , , , ,

comment (Comments Off on Baltimore 1861: Lincoln, Pinkerton, and Burns?)     

Copyright © 2019 Matthew John Kuhns. All Rights Reserved.
Site by Modern Alchemy LLC. Based on the dyne theme by Lorelei Web Design.