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Friday, August 14, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 Years Ago in Spokane: ‘Great detective’ inspects local branch of agency

A local reporter called him the “human X-ray machine.”  (SR archives)
A local reporter called him the “human X-ray machine.” (SR archives)
By Jim Kershner The Spokesman-Review

William J. Burns, “the great detective,” was in Spokane to inspect the local branch of the Burns Detective Agency.

A local reporter called him the “human X-ray machine, the man who had developed more denouements than Conan Doyle ever wrote.”

Here’s what Burns had to say about Arthur Conan Doyle and his famous detective Sherlock Holmes:

“I will never forget that when I was visiting Sir Conan Doyle, whom, by the way, I know well, he was surprised to find out that I had never read a Sherlock Holmes story. In fact, I have never read a detective story in my life. Do you know why? I’ve started thousands, but by and by they get so overdrawn I can’t stand them and throw the book away.”

Burns said he spent the war tracking down German spy plots, but now there was more work than ever.

“Every war is followed by a wave of crime and this one has proved no exception,” he said. “The work of detective agencies now lies in protecting big stores, banks, manufacturing plants and such business.”

From the polo beat: The Playter Film Co.of Spokane intended to film a colorful local event: the polo match between the Fort George Wright team and the Spokane team.

“The film will be exhibited in Spokane theaters and in movie houses all over the district,” as part of the weekly news reel.

Wellington Playter was set to direct.

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