About the book
Character guest post
Detective, Duluth Police Department
Title: Mary MacDougall and a Natural Talent for Detecting
I have known about John MacDougall for years. Anyone who lives in Duluth, Minnesota does. He’s among the Zenith City’s most distinguished citizens—a businessman of acumen and honesty and a native Scotsman with a knack for turning one dollar into many.
But I can’t say that I knew much more about him than the accounts I occasionally came across in the newspapers. I didn’t know the millionaire was widowed, and had a son and a daughter. I particularly didn’t know that, round about last Christmas, I would run into his girl at the house of another millionaire and have my world… Well, not exactly turned upside-down. Rather more like it wobbled a bit. Because I can tell you, whenever you run into Mary MacDougall, interesting things start to happen.
My name is Robert Sauer and I’ve been a detective on the Duluth police force for over five years. Before that I walked beats downtown and in the West End. I came to police work from the navy.
We received an urgent call one evening early last December, the holiday season of 1901. A very valuable item had gone missing at the house of Mrs. Ensign—a sapphire called the Star of the North. Of course, when someone such as Mrs. Ensign has a problem, we public servants hop to it. I arrived at her house and began interviewing the guests, including Miss MacDougall. I asked what she might have seen that evening and the evening before, when she handled the jewel at a concert. All of sudden, she turned the tables on me, interrogating me about my plan to catch the culprit. She wanted to know why, if Scotland Yard was collecting fingerprints, weren’t we?
The next day she came to visit me at headquarters with yet more questions. She was as uppity a young woman as I’ve ever met—and I’ve met a few. If she’d been anyone else’s daughter, I’d have told her off and sent her on her way. I thought she was unusually curious about police work. Nosy, not to put too fine a point on it.
I had no idea that, as I was checking out known jewel thieves, she was working the case from her side—in her amateur but canny manner. And, by golly, what should she go and do but crack the thing wide open. She was in just the right place to spot the ultimate clue. A single little anomaly that no one else had spotted.
Well, thought I, beginner’s luck.
I was disabused of that notion a few weeks later. I happened to be visiting friends down in Minneapolis, one them a police captain. He asked if anything of interest had happened up north lately. And I told him about the theft of the sapphire and how, of all things, a girl had solved the case. Daughter of a millionaire, in fact. Quite unaccountably, he began to laugh.
“Miss Mary MacDougall?” he said.
“Yessss,” I said warily.
“Last summer she provided vital information to Opdahl—”
“The Minneapolis detective?”
He gave a nod. “—that ended a kidnapping ring. Saved an innocent man from a long stretch in Stillwater.”
Not beginner’s luck after all, it would seem.
And that was why, when the young lady stopped to visit me last winter and spring, I didn’t shoo her away. In fact, once or twice I had her do some discreet surveillance for me, though strictly on the QT. When Miss MacDougall told me, at a Decoration Day fête, that she would be vacationing in Upper Michigan, I informed her of a matter regarding a woman committed to an asylum there, who had died. Miss MacDougall sorted it out, after a manner, but somehow managed to end up in jail. Her father was not pleased about that, and neither was my boss, the police chief. As a result, I nearly lost my position. But my young friend—for I do count her a friend—defended me fiercely, saving my neck.
Then there was the recent matter of the body in St. Louis Bay. But that, I’m sorry to tell you, is top secret. This time were I to share the details, and how Miss MacDougall was involved, I genuinely would get the sack.
I can only say, in conclusion, that I have never known anyone, man or woman, with the natural talent for detecting that Miss Mary MacDougall has. Heaven only knows where it will take her.
Buy the book
Visit the tour