Cockney accent, Pine Belt twang

Posted by Matt Kuhns on Jan 24, 2013

Some day it may be possible to listen to Brilliant Deduction. I think that would be cool; I don’t listen to a lot of audiobooks or spoken word audio, personally, but even for me a good audiobook or two is an absolute must on a long road trip. If my book ever does get some kind of audio outing, though, one thing it won’t have is actual audio of the people whose stories it features. We have at least a few words from each, but not their voices.

At any rate, not to my knowledge. It’s technically possible that most of the stars of Brilliant Deduction could have left some sort of audio record; according to Wikipedia the first primitive sound recordings were produced the same year Vidocq passed away. The next earliest of my detectives was around for nearly 30 years after that, into the age of Edison’s early wax cylinders. That said, it’s unlikely that anyone ever recorded the speech of Jack Whicher or Allan Pinkerton; various sources indicate that the first recording of a U.S. president was not made until around 1880. With the later detectives, it’s at least possible, and given William Burns‘s enthusiasm for both performance and gadgetry, I would almost be more surprised if he hadn’t produced an audio recording at some point or other—but that doesn’t mean it has survived 80+ years later.

In the absence of any recordings, though, one can at least make a few educated guesses about what these fellows sounded like…

Vidocq was from Arras, up at the very north of France. What that means, though, I’m not sure; I’ve read that France in the 18th century when he was growing up was home to much more diversity of languages and dialects than is the case today, to say nothing of accents. That said, presumably Vidocq was capable of disguising whatever native accent he possessed, given that he played a number of convincing roles at times, from a Breton to a Romani (i.e. gypsy).

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