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review 2015-01-25 00:14
Review: True Detective Stories From the Archives of the Pinkertons by Cleveland Moffet
True Detective Stories - Cleveland Moffett

Free on Gutenberg or Internet Archive.

Wikipedia: Pinkerton Detective Agency

Reading in progress blogged about here.

2 1/2 Stars mainly for dull use of exciting stories and because it's not going on my Would Read Again list. Almost made 3 but some of the period stereotypes changed my mind (more on that nearer the end where I eyeroll over it).


This book is basically the true crime of the late 1800s. Unfortunately it's not as interesting as it should be - even with some really great crime stories the author makes them drag on in parts. I found it interesting here and there, but more as obscure history. (I do have a couple of other (free) Pinkerton books to read, but these were ones written by Allan Pinkerton. They're supposed to be really self promotional, so I'm curious to see how he'll write about himself.)


You could file these under history - but I'd really call them history-ish, or true crime. Mainly because the author is getting his material - I assume - from the Pinkerton archives. There's no preface so he may not have been able to interview any of the Pinkertons himself - who knows. True crime is always a slightly suspect genre for good reasons - it has a long history of being purposefully graphic to entice readers to buy it. Being factually accurate wasn't really a priority - telling a story was. But the author here isn't really going for graphic details or good story telling - this is far more police procedural type stuff. But again, not as exciting as that sounds. (It makes you wonder how much the author actually wrote and how much was just quoted directly from the files.)


As usual, I think the best idea I can give you about the book is to quote some parts of it. And also as usual, I'll warn you that the bits I've chosen may make the book seem more interesting than the whole thing actually is. (I should also add that I used this as one of my Books To Fall Asleep To, which I pick on purpose not to tempt me to stay up later in order to keep reading.)

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text 2015-01-04 23:49
Reading in Progress: True Detective Stories from the archives of the Pinkertons, and some unrelated Lucy Worsley
True Detective Stories - Cleveland Moffett

Because I'm still fighting the lack of space on my ereader I really have to get in there and toss some of the odds and ends I've collected but still haven't read. This is one of three ebooks on the Pinkerton detectives, which were published in the 1800s. Since I've read some parts of these online I can assure you it's not a thrill a minute, despite lines like:


p 18: "The story told by Evens is one of the most remarkable in the history of crime."

But if you want to peek into a few pages, here's the book on Internet Archive (read online or download):


True Detective Stories from the Archives of the Pinkertons (1897)


Thanks to a great heads up from Degrees of Affection, I listened to Radio 4's interview of Lucy Worsley's reading her diary entries - I loved the bit about her rock collection as a teen. It took until I got into college to find out that other kids did this too. (Not many girls did this in books, or the books I found on geology anyway.) I also loved that "going wild" for her meant "indulging in popular culture." There's also a great moment of how her dad was very wrong about her history degree. Also enough dullness to make me think that my own teenage diaries are probably really typical too. (I've only looked at them once because ugh, soooo tedious!)


Wikipedia: Lucy Worsley

Her website: Lucy Worsley


In theory you can watch Worsley's Tales from the Royal Bedchamber on PBS online but I'm having an awful time getting it to load. (Preview only on youtube here.)

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