Pinkerton's Great Detective: The Amazing James McParland by Beau Riffenburgh

Release Date - November 14, 2013


Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Not only does Pinkerton's Great Detective: The Amazing James McParland delve into the life and times of James McParland, but it also gives great insight into the Molly Maguires and the Pinkertons. I'm not a big fan of history, but something about Pinkerton's Great Detective drew me in and kept me reading.

If you're not familiar with James McParland, like me, he was an Irish native who moved to the states when he was in his 20s. He became one of the best known Pinkerton agents, one who was responsible for infiltrating the Molly Maguires, investigating the assassination of Idaho's Governor Steunenberg, and bringing about the conviction of the person behind a $320,000 theft of gold from a smelting company in San Francisco.

Pinkerton's Great Detective certainly has its merits. It is a riveting piece of history, but there were sections that moved a little slowly. I found myself fighting an urge to skip over pages in order to get back to the pacing I preferred. This could well be due to my general lack of enthusiasm for history, however. In the end, what I did feel is that the details provided in this biographical account show exactly how devoted James McParland was to his work and just how far he'd go to make sure a criminal was brought to justice. For history buffs, it's a book they will want to read.


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