Inspired by this wonderful blog, in which Harry McFry investigates the case of a missing family, I wanted to post about 19th century detectives. It proved to be difficult!
One of the most famous and biggest detective agencies is Pinkertons, or Pinkerton National Detective Agency (but they were also a private guard, with police-like duties,) founded in the 1850s. It is, however, utterly boring because this agency mostly dealt with preventing strikes, and not with investigating murders or missing families. Pinkerton agents were also hired to track western outlaws like Jesse James, the Reno brothers, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Jesse James, who will get his own post later on.
So the actual detectives do not seem very interesting. Let’s move on to detective fiction! It is generally assumed detective fiction started with Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”, which featured the first fictional detective ever: C. Auguste Dupin. Of course the very famous Sherlock Holmes is also a 19th century product, the first publication was in 1887.
Charles Dickens’ “Bleak House” also features a detective subplot, where inspector Bucket investigates the killing of a lawyer.
I really wanted to include Agatha Christie because her work is absolutely great, but it’s the wrong century. If there is any more Victorian detective literature, let us know through the comments!