American Detective Fiction    Prior to July 1891

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  Published in
Beadle’s Monthly, July 1866.
The Burleigh Legacy

A Tale of an Amateur “Detective”

by Charles D. Gardette
  careers been in his line. But, being a man of honor and virtue, and a gentleman of easy fortune and high social station, he remained simply a commentator—a philosophical censor, in a manner, of the criminal calendar, and a critical looker-on in the Vienna of outlawry.

Brentwood was a constant subscriber to and diligent reader of most of the “organs of justice” in the civilized world. He received the English police and judicial reports; the French Gazettes des Tribuneaux; the Italian, Spanish, and German ditto; and all the similar journals of our own country. He knew the minutest details of every celebrated criminal trial that had attracted public attention during the past century, from the famous forgery on the Bank of England to the murder by Muller on the London and Essex Railway; from the highway robbery and extraordinary trial and execution of Lesurques in Lyons, to the La Pommerais poisoning case; from the Parkman-Webster mystery to the Deering murder.

And in each and every case he was ready to point out the causes of the failure, and the . . .


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MY cousin, Phil Brentwood, was as good a fellow as ever lived—full of talent, courage, honor, and all the other virtues that cheer but not inebriate;—no, I don’t exactly mean that. However, the reader knows what I do mean, and so let it pass.

But Phil had a foible amounting almost to a monomania. He was, so to speak, an amateur felon. Not that he ever committed a crime “for the love of the thing,” or for any other motive. Oh, no! But he was exceedingly fond of perusing the court reports, and of revising and correcting, as it were, the plans and executions of celebrated robberies, arsons, murders, and the like, with the view of discovering their weak points—showing how and where the perpetrators failed to assure the successful accomplishment of their purposes and to elude subsequent detection. His ingenuity in these matters was wonderful, and he certainly would have made a remarkable leader of a band of outlaws, or a singularly adroit and infallible detective officer, had either of these antipodal





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