Thursday, July 5, 2012

On Secret Service: Detective-Mystery Stories Based on Real Cases - by William Nelson Taft

On Secret Service: Detective-Mystery Stories Based on Real Cases Solved By
Government Agents by William Nelson Taft. This is fiction, but based on fact.  Fans of Ian Fleming will find the title familiar.  Once again the Amazon UK title is not free.  It is difficult to understand why the US titles are free and there is a charge for the same UK out of copyright title ! (US Edition)  (£2.05 UK Edition)  There are just not as many free books in the UK.

There is a narrator who introduces yet another narrator, Quinn, to tell the stories.  It is an odd framing device, but not too intrusive.  The stories from that point on do not seem like fiction.
Secret Service men [said Quinn] divide all of their cases into two classes—those which call for quick action and plenty of it and those which demand a great deal of thought and only an hour or so of actual physical work. Your typical operative—Allison, who was responsible for solving the poison-pen puzzle, for example, or Hal Preston, who penetrated the mystery surrounding the murder of Montgomery Marshall—is essentially a man of action. He likes to tackle a job and get it over with. It doesn't make any difference if he has to round up a half dozen counterfeiters at the point of a single revolver—as Tommy Callahan once did—or break up a gang of train robbers who have sworn never to be taken alive. As long as he has plenty of thrills and excitement, as long as he is able to get some joy out of life, he doesn't give a hang for the risk.
There are a couple dozen stories, may with intriguing titles reminiscent of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, such as: Five Inches of Death, Trail of the White Mice and The Double Code.   
"The rest of the story," concluded Quinn, "is a matter of history. How the fleet bottled up the harbor at Vera Cruz, how it was forced to send a landing party ashore under fire, and how seventeen American sailors lost their lives during the guerrilla attack which followed. All that was spread across the front pages of American papers in big black type—but the fact that a steamer named the Ypiranga had been held up by the American fleet and forced to anchor at a safe distance offshore, under the guns of the flagship, was given little space.
Actually it is a matter of history- Google "The Occupation of Veracruz."

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