Monday, November 18, 2013

Review: Pinkerton's Great Detective: The Amazing Life and Times of James McParland by Beau Riffenburgh

Title: Pinkerton's Great Detective: The Amazing Life and Times of James McParland
Author: Beau Riffenburgh
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Viking Adult
Publish Date: November 14, 2013
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a non-fiction fan.
  • You like reading about fascinating historical figures.
What's the Story?:

From "The operatives of the Pinkerton’s National Detective Agency were renowned for their skills of subterfuge, infiltration, and investigation, none more so than James McParland. So thrilling were McParland’s cases that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle included the cunning detective in a story along with Sherlock Holmes.

Riffenburgh digs deep into the recently released Pinkerton archives to present the first biography of McParland and the agency’s cloak-and-dagger methods. Both action packed and meticulously researched, Pinkerton’s Great Detective brings readers along on McParland’s most challenging cases: from young McParland’s infiltration of the murderous Molly Maguires gang in the case that launched his career to his hunt for the notorious Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch to his controversial investigation of the Western Federation of Mines in the assassination of Idaho’s former governor.

Filled with outlaws and criminals, detectives and lawmen, Pinkerton’s Great Detective shines a light upon the celebrated secretive agency and its premier sleuth."

My Two Cents:

"Pinkerton's Great Detective" is the story of James McParland, a detective who had a storied career in the late 1800s and early 1900s. This book is the non-fiction tale of his life with a heavy focus on some of the big cases he worked on (the Molly Maguires in Pennsylvania, some of the outlaw gangs in the Wild West). I love this time period and it was really interesting to read about some of the things that were going on in McParland's time.

As I said, the book focuses mostly on the cases themselves. It doesn't really focus on a lot of the work that McParland did in order to bring the cases to trial. For cases like the Molly Maguires case, he actually had to work as an undercover operative, which I think would have been really, really interesting considering what was going on as well as just the time period itself. I really wish there had been more detail on that.

The system of law in places like Pennsylvania and Colorado seemed really different than they are now so it was really interesting to read how much things had changed between McParland's time period and present day. I always love when I can learn a little something from a book and in this book, the part where Riffenburgh explained some of the intricacies of the law systems that affected McParland's big cases were really fascinating to me.

The book dragged a little bit at the end with tying everything up but overall, this book covered a really fascinating personality.


1 comment:

  1. Great review Meg, I think I would enjoy reading about his cases, and totally love this time period too!!


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