American Detective Fiction    Prior to July 1891

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  Published in
The New York Ledger, June 12 1858.

This story was reprinted as
“Mysterious Deaths at Castellane” in
Mountain Democrat (Placerville, CA) June 25, 1859; and
the Oconto Pioneer March 24, 1860:
and as “The Mule Driver” in
Trempealeau [WI] Representative February 3,1860.  

Assassin of Castellane

From the Records of a French Policeman
  “Within a few months past there have been some of the most mysterious murders committed in the Department, and in the Department of Ver, that ever came under my notice.  They are done mostly, on the road from Castellane to Aups.  The first victim was a Marseilles merchant, who had come up to Castellane to purchase preserved fruits.  His body was found by the roadside near the line between the two Departments; and at first it was supposed that he must have fallen there and died in a fit, as no marks of violence could be found upon him. —His pockets were rifled, however.  The next one was found near Arnot, and under the same circumstances.  He was a merchant also, and from Nice. Since then, five or six have died upon the road in the same manner, and no marks of ill usage have been found upon any of them; but they all have been robbed.”

“Have most of them stopped at Castellane?” I asked. . . .


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    I possessed some renown as a successful rogue catcher; and I had some experience, too.  My field of operation, as a usual thing, lay within the confines of the department of Lower Alps; and though I served under the Sub-Prefect of the third Arrondisement, yet the Prefect of the Department called upon me when he chose.  One morning—it was the latter part of May—I received a note from the Prefect, ordering me to come to Digne and see him with all possible dispatch.  The missive came thro’ the office of the Sub-Prefect, so I had nothing to do but get ready and start.  I took an early dinner, browned my face and hands, and started out.  He seemed to be relieved when he saw me, and at once took me to his private closet.

“Now,” said I, “have you work for me!”

“Yes.  Sit down and listen,” he replied.

We sat down, and having tasted a glass of wine, he proceeded:





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