Book launch!

Posted by Matt Kuhns on Jan 31, 2013

My book is out!

Yes, real! (And virtual as well, for those who roll that way)

Yes, real! (And virtual as well, for those who roll that way)

Please click on the Purchase link to order Brilliant Deduction in hardcover, paperback or ebook format!

Pleeeeeeeease

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Welcome to 2013

Posted by Matt Kuhns on Jan 1, 2013

Happy new year. Now it begins: after two years of planning, dreaming, researching and preparing, in 2013 my first-ever book will debut at last. Officially, the hardcover will be available in February with paperback and ebook to follow, although copies of the hardcover have been sneaking out into the public already. (Apparently I am not alone in this.)

My great publicity blitz shall accordingly commence, shortly. I’ll post notes on how it goes here on the blog, along with continued tidbits and asides related to the content of the book. I may not quite manage it all the time, but my goal is to start posting at least 4-5 times per week through the first half of this year. So by all means, bookmark this site or subscribe to the rss feed or the Twitter updates; I will do my best to feed the internet’s ravenous hunger for regularly updated content.

Allons-y

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Runners-up: James McParland

Posted by Matt Kuhns on Dec 28, 2012

Nine detectives made the final cut for Brilliant Deduction. I think they represent a good effort at answering the question that began it all, i.e. “who are the greatest detectives ever outside of fiction?” Collectively, they represent a few of the various possible interpretations of “great detective,” they provide a good survey of the whole era of real-life famous detectives from its beginning to its closing days, and I suspect that if nothing else most of the strongest candidates for the most amazing individual detective, ever, are included.

I won’t claim for a minute that it’s a comprehensive list, though. It wasn’t intended to be, both for the purpose of a tighter narrative, and because (as is the more or less the book’s very raison d’être) the work of detectives has become quite obscure compared with what it once was. I make no bones about the fact that my selection was influenced by whom I could find the most information on. As demonstrated by the career of “Paddington” Pollaky, the one major character in Brilliant Deduction who lacks even a single biography, piecing together the affairs of a private investigator is a formidable challenge. And Pollaky was an exceptionally well-known PI, at least once! I can’t disprove that even better detectives than my cast may exist, but finding enough information to tell their stories is, at least, a task for a more able researcher than I.

All that having been said, the final nine of Brilliant Deduction were by no means the only detectives I considered in evaluating greatness. From time to time I plan on posting a bit about the “runners-up,” and I’ll begin with James McParland.

Read more…

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Nine detectives and nine spies

Posted by Matt Kuhns on Dec 7, 2012

Sir Fitzroy Maclean’s book Nine Spies: True Spy Stories from Mata Hari to Kim Philby provides an interesting comparison with Brilliant Deduction.

Both are nonfiction works describing the lives and careers of nine (or so) figures, who became notable in a field concerned with discovering secret information. Both play out over a limited time period of very roughly a century, with common figures and events tying together the otherwise individual chapters. Both narratives intersect repeatedly with war (primarily the American Civil War in Brilliant Deduction; World Wars I and II in Sir Fitzroy’s book). Most striking of all, to me, both deal with the paradox of people whose fame (or infamy) resulted from affairs that most of the people involved wanted to keep quiet. Sir Fitzroy in the introduction to Nine Spies:

…anyone who attempts to reconstruct a real spy from a handful of mouldering bones in a prison yard or the ramblings of some elderly pensioner in scarcely less mouldy exile or retirement has a far harder task [than the author of fictional tales]. Confused by the duplicity of double agents, forever following carefully planted clues deliberately designed to lead nowhere or false trails which only lead back to the fertile imagination of previous investigators, blinded by smokescreens and baffled by strategems, he faces a far tougher and more frustrating assignment.

[…] All I have done in the present instance is take nine spies, sift through such evidence as I could find about them, discard what seemed to me obvious nonsense, and, from what remained, piece together the sequence of events and attempt some sort of estimate of the personalities involved and of their motives or lack of motives.

Read more…

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Hello world!

Posted by Matt Kuhns on Nov 9, 2012

My name is Matt Kuhns. In the summer of 2010, I thought of a question and decided it was a question worth trying to answer: who are or were the greatest detectives ever, in real life? About two and a half years later, I’m nearly ready to present the world with the answers I found, in the form of a book called Brilliant Deduction. (If you’re here you’ve probably figured out that much already.)

I’m very proud of the book, you can read all about what’s in it throughout this web site, and I really hope you’ll buy a copy and enjoy reading it. But, while I think it’s a great introduction to some of the greatest detectives ever outside the realms of fiction, it’s still an introduction. Even though this subject has gotten relatively little attention compared with, say, the NFL or the Civil War or the late Steve Jobs, I came across a lot more information than I could fit in a single book. I still continue to come across interesting tidbits related to this or that detective’s life or career, and I’ve got all sorts of stray thoughts and asides which didn’t quite find a place in the book but seem like they might make excellent material for a blog.

So that’s what you’re going to get, here. It will be kind of an extended, serialized notes section for Brilliant Deduction along with a journal of whatever may follow from actually publishing the book and (I hope) its finding an audience with their own thoughts on the subject. Which, I should add, you’re welcome to share; comments are moderated but as long as you aren’t trying to sell pharmaceuticals or gucci handbags, I’ll probably approve them.

In summation, I’m strangely reminded of the very first Garfield strip, introduced to the world right around four weeks before I was. Welcome to Brilliant Deduction (the blog):

Our only thought is to entertain you (BUY MY BOOK!)

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