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The Expressman and the Detective

Allan Pinkerton

Book Overview: 

Allan Pinkerton, a Scotsman by birth, settled in Chicago in its infancy and founded the Pinkertons, the world's first detective agency. Though events associated with the agency after his death have tarnished the name, Pinkerton himself was one of the original human rights advocates.

The Expressman and the Detective is Pinkerton's first attempt at putting his real-life experiences into novel form. Though many later works attributed to Pinkerton are understood to have been ghostwritten, this is the work of the man the London Times calls "a man at once deeply admirable and quite obnoxious."

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Chicago I selected Mr. Green to "shadow" Mrs. Maroney. Giving him the same full instructions I had given the other operatives, I despatched him for Montgomery. He arrived there none too soon.

Mrs. Maroney had grown rather commanding in her manners, and was very arrogant with the servants in the house. She also found great fault with the proprietor, Mr. Floyd, for not having some necessary repairs in her room attended to.

One of the lady boarders, the wife of a senator, treated her with marked coolness; and these various circumstances so worked on her high-strung temperament that she was thrown into an uncontrollable fit of passion, during which she broke the windows in her room.

The landlord insisted on her paying for them, but she indignantly refused to do so. On his pressing the matter, she determined to leave the house and make a trip to the North.

Porter had become quite intimate with the slave-servants in the Exchange, and easily . . . Read More

Community Reviews

Very Insightful

It was extremely detailed but if you stick with it you will enjoy the story. It is great insight as to how the ‘Pinkerton’ Agency works. Amazing really!

Excellent detective story

This is a fantastic account of how the Pinkerton worked. I had no idea the psychology and the amount of people involved in one case. Amazing!

Allan Pinkerton had a public relations problem. The public believed that his operatives were criminals. His solution was to write dime novels showcasing his cases, lauding the professionalism of his detectives. This is the first book. The first 65% of the book suffers for lack of editing and certain


This is a very early detective novel, written by the man Allan Pinkerton himself -- the founder of the world's first detective agency. It is the alleged account of a detective operation before the US Civil War involving the theft of fifty thousand dollars from a delivery ("express") company.

The Pink

Incredibly detailed account of undercover detectives working to solve a case in 1859 (this account was published fifteen years after the fact). The real hero of the fracas was Mrs. Kate Warne, a pioneering female detective. Pinkerton himself remarked at the denoument that 'she had the proud satisfac

A boring story, boringly told.

Not at all what I had been led to expect from the concise narratives in True Detective Stories.

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