Mention 19th century U.S. detective agencies, and Pinkerton is generally the first to be called to mind.
This isn't surprising since the agency established by Allan Pinkerton in 1850 is widely known because of its role in protecting President Lincoln during the Civil War, smashing the Molly Maguires in the Pennsylvania coal region, and tracking down western outlaws like Jesse James. By the 1890s, the Pinkerton Detective Agency had more operatives than the U.S. Army had soldiers.
But, Pinkerton wasn't the only detective agency operating in the wild west in the 1890s.
One of Pinkerton's major competitors was the Thiel Detective Service Agency. The firm was founded by George H. Thiel, a former Civil War spy and Pinkerton employee.
I decided to give my character Sam Blake a job with the firm after research turned up the firm's work in Colorado in the period of Blake's Rule. One of Thiel's first employees was John F. Farley, a former U.S. Cavalry trooper, who became manager of the Denver office. He hires Blake in the novel.
A major task of the Thiel agency was infiltrating labor organizations and breaking up strikes, work that had agents reviled by many as mercenaries and musclemen. This reputation causes an initial conflict between Blake and Sheriff Fremont before they become allies in Blake's Rule. Here's a blurb for the novel:
Blake’s rule has always been to do what’s right…not what’s easy.
Range detective Sam Blake is after cattle rustlers—but when a beautiful woman is accused of murdering her employer, he has to step in and see justice done. Miriam had her reasons for the brutal killing, and though she’s not talking, Blake understands there’s more to this crime than meets the eye.
When the local sheriff, James Fremont, asks Blake to spirit Miriam and her two children out of town before a lynch mob comes for her, he agrees. But Cyrus Diebler, the influential rancher who is intent on seeing her pay for her crime, is not about to be stopped. He will go to whatever lengths he must to see her dead, though it means putting his own family in harm’s way.
As Blake and Miriam stay one step ahead of the relentless Diebler and his deadly henchmen, a relationship begins to build between them. When Blake learns the real story behind the murder, and the dark secrets of Diebler’s motivation to see Miriam dead, he vows he will protect her and her children at all costs—even if it means his own life.
Blake's Rule is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other major booksellers.