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American Detective Fiction    Prior to July 1891

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  Published in
Harper’s Weekly, October 16, 1858
 
The Button:
An Experience of a New York Detective, Related by Himself

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  it carefully, under the pretext of buying goods, or finding some Mr. Jones or other among the clerks. He’d find just the right time for his job, if he waited weeks. I suppose he might, possibly, quiet anybody that disturbed him, if it was really necessary, and he had a large “swag,” but he would avoid the risk of a murder from principle.

I was going to tell you of some smart work there was done some years ago by three men, down in Maiden Lane and thereabouts.

I think ’twas in the fall of the year, and for some weeks, every Monday morning regular, there came complaints to the Chief that some store had been entered and goods taken away without being charged. The Chief sent for the patrolmen of that ward, and was pretty sharp with them, telling them to keep extra lookout Saturday and Sunday nights, threatening to . . .

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    I expect you’ve no idea how scientifically burglars do their work sometimes. It’s a regular trade; I don’t know but you might call it one of the arts and sciences. Folks generally think a burglar is a rough-looking villain, with a horrid face and bushy eyebrows, who breaks into any house or store where he thinks there’s anything worth taking, and kills everybody that makes any resistance. Just let me show you a burglar (turning to the Rogues’ Gallery), one of the best of them. There, that fellow, number 203; you wouldn’t think he was a rascal; he looks more like an Episcopal minister, doesn’t he? Now that fellow had as nice a kit of tools as you’d care to see. His “skeletons,” with movable wards, were made with a polish on ’em. Give him a chance and he’d open any lock in town. He never “weeded” a place till he knew just where he was to go and what he was to do. If it was a store, he’d have been through    

 

 


 

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