"Only on his father's side. Anyway, knowing the family and all, I followed his career, the odd bit of news and whatnot. He joined the Pinkertons, gained a bit of notoriety there."
Lean snorted. Ever since Allan Pinkerton had famously uncovered a plot against President Lincoln during the war, the private detective and security force of the Pinkertons - with their pompous symbol of the all-seeing eye - had been held to be a notch above all other police forces. But since that success thirty years earlier, Lean considered that the Pinkertons' true talent, exposed in their operations infiltrating unions as strikebreakers, was for cracking skulls rather than using their own.
"Deputy, do you recall, about a year ago, news of Jacob Rutland, the Boston shipping magnate whose young daughter went missing?" Dr. Steig asked.
"Heard something. Pinkertons got her back, didn't they?"
"Their men were brought in but made no further headway than the city police. Another week went by, and still no trace of the girl. Nothing at all. In desperation they called in this fellow."
"Desperation?" Mayor Ingraham's eyebrow arched.
"His methods are a bit unorthodox."
This did nothing to smooth the mayor's forehead. "Smoke signals and spirit visions?"
"Quite the contrary," Dr. Steig said. "He's known to employ a rather modern, scientific approach. Where the other detectives couldn't find a hair of the girl after two weeks, this fellow brought her home alive within forty-eight hours."
"I don't recall hearing anything about that," Mayor Ingraham said. "He was also involved in the Athenaeum burglaries," Dr. Steig said, "and the Bunker Hill murders."
"That was him?" Mayor Ingraham exchanged a long look with Lean. "Can't say I care much for involving some Pinkerton with halfcooked ideas about police work." Lean imagined much time being wasted by some fool using uncertain techniques such as taking fingerprint samples and rambling on about the Frenchman Bertillon's system of identifying criminals by their precise body measurements. "But I suppose there's no harm in talking to him," Lean said. "We're already rounding up derelicts, and I can take some men over to Farrell's after sunup."
"Agreed, then," the mayor said. "Though not a word of this to anyone. I don't want it known about town that we're consulting, in desperation, with this Indian fellow. Has a name, does he? Chief Something-or-Other?"
"Just Grey. Perceval Grey."
The three of them stood, waiting for the machine-shop door to open and this Perceval Grey to reveal himself.
"Where is he already?" Mayor Ingraham said.
"Perhaps that wasn't him after all," Dr. Steig said.
"Could be a reporter. Better have a look. Cover the body, just in case." The mayor reached out and took Lean by the arm. "I don't want any newspapermen stealing a look at that... that travesty."
Excerpted from The Truth of All Things by Kieran Shields. Copyright © 2012 by Kieran Shields. Excerpted by permission of Crown. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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