American Detective Fiction    Prior to July 1891

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  Published in
Experiences of a Real Detective by Inspector F.
Edited by “Waters,” author of Recollections of a Police Officer, Leonard Harlowe, etc.
London: Ward, Lock, & Tyler, 1862. 43-74.
Caught At Last
by Inspector F.

  happening that a relative of mine, settled at Taunton, was in the habit of sending me the Courier that town, when a week old, more or less, I became acquainted with many particulars, some of which gave a sort of ghastly aspect to the abominable outrage, and in their effect went near to drive an eccentric but very respectable man into a lunatic asylum.

The widow’s late husband, Mr. Searle, was a first-rate shot at pigeon matches, not one of which was made within I know not how many miles round, but he was a competitor, in nine cases out of ten a successful one: Mr. Searle was also an enthusiastic cultivator of prize fruits and vegetables, gooseberries, cucumbers, and what not. As the chief prizes in such contests were often silver tankards, flagons, and cups, Mr. Searle, during a quarter of a century mainly devoted to such pastimes, had accumulated an extraordinary number of these articles, not one of which he would have parted with for twenty times its value. He also took great pride in displaying those glittering trophies of successful skill upon festal gatherings at Vale Lodge; . . .


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    THE good folks of Taunton, Somersetshire, were· thrown into a state of intense excitement on the morning of the 6th of November, 1835. An atrocious burglary, accompanied by murderous violence, had been committed early the previous night at an isolated dwelling, a few miles out of the town, called Vale Lodge, inhabited by Mrs. Searle, a widow lady of property; two women servants, Mary Carter and Anne Love, and a stout youth, Richard Ray, about seventeen years old, who groomed the pony, drove his mistress out, waited at table when there was company, and so on, comprised the inmates. The gardener did not sleep in the house; Richard Ray’s dormitory was a loft over the stable.
I was first made acquainted with the leading facts of the case by printed slips, always forwarded without delay, when any startling or extraordinary crime has been committed, to every police station, for the information and guidance of the officers. Ultimately, I myself was specially engaged in the investigation of the affair; but some time before then, it



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