"The Chase" by Clive Cussler is a historical detective story. The foreword begins with a steam locomotive being pulled out of a lake in 1950. Chapter one flashes back to 1906, when a vicious bank robber was leaving a trail of unsolvable crimes. His record was perfect -- he emptied the vaults of all paper money, leaving any witnesses lying in pools of blood.They called him the Butcher Bandit.
He Always Got His Man
Isaac Bell, a detective at the Van Dorn Agency, is the son of a wealthy man. Bell is a detective because he loves the work. He has a reputation for always solving the cases assigned to him. Despite the dearth of information, he slowly begins building a body of evidence about the Butcher Bandit from circumstances surrounding the bloody robberies. But no tracks ever lead out of town, no strangers board passenger trains or coaches--circumstances that lead him to examine freight cars leaving the town. He learns that one freight car was parked on the railroad siding--an area where cars are left when awaiting transport--during five of the robberies.
Thanks to a few casual witnesses, Bell has identified his suspect as having red hair and a missing finger. It isn't much, but it does slightly narrow the search. Still, the Butcher Bandit continues to strike, robbing small mining towns of the paper bills provided for payroll, and Bell seems no closer to solving the crimes. In desperation, he sets a trap for the Butcher Bandit. Bell and the agency make sure it is known that a prosperous small mining town, located in a box canyon, has a new mining location and the payroll delivery will be extra large.
A Flaw in Perfection
The Bandit, who wishes the newspapers had found a more elegant name for him, has a weakness in the form of a wild, beautiful sister, whom he allows to help with this newest caper. Bell and another agent pose as bank employees to prevent the Bandit from killing innocent employees again. The Bandit kills the second agent, and attempts to kill Bell. Bell manages to dodge quickly enough that the Bandit's bullet only creases his skull instead of blowing his brains out. As Bell dodges, he recognizes the man behind gun. The Bandit and his sister flee without the payroll, thinking that both of the agents are dead.
Now it is only a matter of following the serial numbers on some of the stolen bills from other robberies attributed to the Butcher Bandit. Although they learn nothing conclusive, the trail points toward San Francisco. Now, although Bell knows the Bandit's identity, he must locate evidence that will hold up in a court of law. The Bandit and his sister nearly escape, using the chaos after the great San Francisco earthquake to cover their getaway. But Bell lives up to his reputation, and pursues them in a high-speed rail chase across country that culminates in a terrible ferry accident.
- Clive Cusler; "The Chase"; 2007
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