A Tip of the Hat to the First Private Eye


From Margaret’s new book Gunpowder Tea (for a chance to win see below):

During surveillance a detective must remain inconspicuous. No loitering sober in a saloon or reading a newspaper on a horse.

A detective without a clue is like a cowboy without a horse; Both are in for a lot of footwork.

Making accusations without proof is like throwing a rope without a loop.

A private eye’s best friend is a woman with a secret too good to keep.

Every cattle rustler, horse thief, and crooked politician deserves a fair trial, followed by a respectful hanging.  

It’s a terrible time to be a criminal.  Crime fighting tools have advanced in leaps and bounds in recent years.   Combined DNA Data Systems and the Automated Fingerprint Identification System have made it possible to solve crimes that would have been unsolvable only a few years ago.   

 Officers can now download information right at the crime scene.  This is immediately analyzed by technicians who map the city in real time.   Some cities now have a Shot-Spotter to alert police to gunfire as it happens.  Detectives also have cameras, cell phone, social media and computer technology at their crime-fighting fingertips.  It’s enough to make the most hardened criminal think about going straight.

 In my new book Gunpowder Tea, Maribel Hunt is a Pinkerton detective working undercover as Annie Beckman.  Her task is mysteryto track down The Phantom who has terrorized the Arizona Territory for nearly two years.    My first question in writing the book was how did detectives solve crimes before the advent of blood types, fingerprints and other methods we now take for granted?   

Let me tell you, it wasn’t easy, but Allan Pinkerton was way ahead of his time.  Not only did he work with Abraham Lincoln to create the Secret Service he began a database of mug shots—the first of its kind.  He spent hours scouring newspapers and kept meticulous records of criminal behavior.   Allan didn’t have to worry about Miranda rights, but he did adhere to a strict code of his own making.  He steadfastly refused to investigate the morals of a woman and turned down cases of a scandalous nature.

He was also the first known person to solve a crime using modern technology. Allan proved that a ransom note was written on a particular typewriter by studying the ribbon.  He was also quick to utilize the telegraph and railroad  in his fight against interstate crime.  

Several of his methods are still in use today including shadowing (surveillance) and assuming a role (working undercover)—all of which is required of my heroine with unexpected results.  


 Calling all mystery lovers: 

Who’s your favorite literary or TV detective?


I’m not giving away a book today, but if you hurry there’s still a few hours left to enter Goodreads 5 book giveaway:



 Gunpowder Tea

 “Exquisitely Intriguing”-Publishers Weekly Starred Review

Gunpowdertea1Pinkerton Detective Miranda Hunt has been tasked with apprehending the Phantom – a notorious train robber thought to be hiding on the sprawling Last Chance Ranch.

 But she isn’t the only one there with something to hide. Wells Fargo detective Jeremy Taggert is working the scene undercover as well. Although their true identities are a secret—and both are suspicious of the other—it is impossible for Jeremy and Miranda to hide the spark that flares between them.  But with careers and lives on the line, love will have to wait—perhaps forever.

  Order from your favorite bookstore or just click cover.
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14 thoughts on “A Tip of the Hat to the First Private Eye”

  1. The crime fighting tools available now are absolutely amazing – there will always be crimes to solve, & unfortunately, some criminals that are just too smart to get caught!

  2. There has been crime and wrong from the beginning and I am sure there always will be. Thankfully, there are those that give their lives to righting wrongs. Our sophisticated means of finding these criminals is amazing.

  3. Margaret, I’ve always been fascinated by Allan Pinkerton. I knew he had a strict code of ethics and only hired like-minded detectives, but I had no idea he kept such a detailed data base. WOW, thanks for sharing.

  4. Renee, I think we can safely call Allan Pinkerton the first profiler. Some people criticized him because he thought that certain head lumps caused criminal behavior, but recent studies of the brain prove that he wasn’t that far off in his thinking.

  5. CateS, ah, yes, we can’t forget Miss Marple. I can’t remember which book this is from, but I wrote it down years ago in my notebook of quotes:

    “There is no detective in England equal to a spinster lady of uncertain age with plenty of time on her hands.”

  6. Margaret, I was an avid reader of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys way back when I was young. Lord, I can barely remember those days! Anyway, I loved those books and I even got my Mom hooked on them. I’d check them out of the library and we’d both read them. Then later I got into Sherlock Holmes.

    Wishing you much success with Gunpowder Tea! I love that title. Sounds like a wonderful story.

  7. Linda, thank you! I like the title, too.

    Yes, how well I remember the Hardy Boys. I wrote my first “book” in fifth grade and I remember using all those Hardy Boy adverbs in the book. So my characters all talked loudly, quietly, quickly, urgently and fearlessly.

  8. Always loved a good mystery. I like Sherlock Holmes. He is flawed and a genius in his own way. There have been many variations done of the character, but they retain the essence of who he is.

    I have WAITING FOR MORNING waiting for me on the shelf. I am currently reading A BRIDE FOR ALL SEASONS, and am thoroughly enjoying it. I am also reading GIVE ME A COWBOY. Thought I had read that ages ago, but hadn’t. Phyllis Miranda’s story has a Pinkerton agent as the hero and he too reminds himself of the rules and tries to stay uninvolved.

    Best wishes for a successful release of GUNPOWDER TEA. It is on my wish list.

  9. Hi Patricia, I like Sherlock Holmes, too. I recently reread some of his stories. They’re even good the second time around. I love the way his mind works. It sounds like you have a full reading schedule ahead!

    Have a great weekend!

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