Brilliant Deduction beer tour, part 1

Posted by Matt Kuhns on Apr 12, 2013

A while ago I had the idea of proposing a suggested “soundtrack” for Brilliant Deduction. I may yet come up with one, too, but it’s hard, at least when one has little detailed knowledge of music history. (Suggestions are welcome.) Meanwhile, however, I’ve had another idea inspired by a recent visit to Winking Lizard Tavern: a beer tour. I’m not quite an expert on beer, but I do feel (ironically perhaps) on steadier ground with this subject. Therefore, I offer up the following suggested beer pairings for the first four chapters of Brilliant Deduction.

Disclaimer: the author does not condone underage or unsafe drinking, please do not attempt this or any “beer tour” in part or in whole or even visit the following links unless you have obtained the age necessary for responsible judgments about alcohol as defined by your local laws and statutes; please enjoy alcoholic beverages and alcohol-related writing only in moderation.


This was a tough one. Vidocq was from Arras, and spent most of his career in and closely associated with Paris. And while France does engage in more brewing than one might first assume, searching around the internet doesn’t turn up much of a brewing scene in either of these cities. What breweries Paris does host, meanwhile, seem to trade on decidedly non-French character: the (admittedly charming) Frog et Rosbif, and Brasserie O’Neil.

Honestly, it’s tempting to just recommend “any French beer,” as this will be novel enough for most of my readership, but I’ll pick one as an official selection. Jenlain Ambrée is the first item on a much-linked Top Ten French beers list, and that seems reasonable. As an alternative, the second item, Kronenbourg 1664 is relatively accessible these days; I’ve had it here and en France, and find it quite satisfactory.

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The strange cases of Henry Meyers

Posted by Matt Kuhns on Jan 22, 2013

In the notes to his monumental graphic novel about the Whitechapel murders, From Hell, Alan Moore is compelled to comment more than once on “the odd way in which key names seem to recur throughout the history of murder.” This phenomenon is, probably, just coincidence, but it is certainly odd. And it isn’t just Moore. In my own researches into a century or so of detectives and their criminal adversaries, I was similarly unable to avoid noting a number of name-related connections. From time to time I will post about them, here, under the “name game” tag.

As a start, however, I’m not sure anything else in this category can approach the bizarre case, or as I’m fairly certain, cases, of Henry Meyers.

In William Hunt’s biography of William Burns, the author points to 1894 as a breakthrough year for the detective’s reputation. One of the investigations which, per Hunt, boosted Burns’s profile in that year involved Henry Meyers. A Chicago-based quack doctor, Meyers apparently attempted to branch out into more directly money-making frauds and try his hand at counterfeiting. This brought him into the sights of the Treasury’s Secret Service, and in particular its rising star William Burns, who shut down Meyers’s operation and seized his equipment in a nicely publicized raid.

At some point, during either my initial read of the biography or while reviewing my notes later, I recalled Burns’s great rivals the Pinkertons (also based in Chicago) sparring with a rogue of that same name. Indeed, my notes confirmed, some years previously William Pinkerton had directed efforts against a villainous doctor who had organized a “murder for profit” system, and this Chicago doctor named Henry was still active in 1894. I actually wrote in one of the early drafts of how Burns’s 1894 foiling of one of the Pinkertons’ old foes, right on their home turf of the Windy City, was an early score in their eventual long, bitter rivalry. There was just one problem, however. In re-checking dates and things, I noticed that that the man arrested by the Pinkertons was named Henry Meyer. No “s.”

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