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.

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