American Detective Fiction    Prior to July 1891

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  Published in
Ballou’s Dollar Monthly Magazine, August 1862

This story was later included in the collection Leaves from the Note-Book of a New York Detective: The Private Record of J. B. Edited by John B. Williams, M.D. (New York: Dick and Fitzgerald, 1865. 30-5.). The stories in this volume were purportedly written by the fictional character James Brampton.


The Struggle for Life

by a New York Detective

  conclusion that it was the work of English burglars.

The gate leading in the yard was studded on the top with sharp spikes, and on one of these spikes I found a piece of cotton handkerchief, with a red ground and blue spots. It was evident that the house-breaker, had raised himself up by it, and that it had given way, leaving a portion of it remaining on the spike. This little piece of handkerchief, then, was the only clue I had. I carefully preserved it.
It is a well known fact that the English burglars are the most expert in their calling. An experienced detective can at once recognize their handiwork, and they are generally so careful that they leave nothing behind them by which they can be traced. I could only account for this piece of handkerchief being left behind by the fact that the night on which the robbery was committed, was very dark, and in all probability, the burglar was not aware that his handkerchief had been torn.

My proceeding was plainly to find out to . . .


Find the full text here.






    News was one day brought to the office of the chief of police, that the residence of George Templeman, Esq., situated in Union Square, had been burglariously entered and completely sacked of its valuables. A large amount of money had been stolen as well as all the plate and jewelry. The family were out of town at the time, and the house was left in charge of three servants, a footman, housemaid, and cook. They had heard no sounds in the house on the night of the robbery, and were very much surprised to find every room ransacked when they awoke in the morning.
Some policemen were immediately dispatched to the spot, and made an examination of the premises, but they discovered no clue to the perpetrators of the robbery. It was then that I was consulted.
I found that an entrance had been effected by the rear of the dwelling, and a single glance was sufficient to tell that it had been the work of ex­perts, in fact, I at once came to the



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