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Monsignor Ronald Knox Simpatico with Mr. Edgar Allan Poe and Me

This “predicate title” (or should it be, “titled predicate?”) may seem like us three identified gents being somewhat awkward and unlikely “bedfellows” (figuratively, mind you!) with nothing at all remotely in common . . . an English Priest; a drunken writer of horror stories and me, the retired “gumshoe”.

Yes of course you readily recognize that all three of us are or were manly-men; two of them are R.I.P.’s (hopefully, not me when this article is published); and two of us are Catholic (I will leave it up to you to guess which two); amen!

My “nom de plume” just might give you the common denominator in that all three of us share—“Gumshoe”.

Reader’s Note:  “Gumshoe” is an early 20th-century street slang term that originally meant a “thief” (Gumshoe man), but the term evolved to mean a “police or private detective” who investigated by stealth. (I liked that!)

You see that the soft rubber-soled shoes (made in the late 1800s were called “Gumshoes”) and allowed the wearer to be “sneaky when he (or she) quietly crept around”— the thief, up to no good don’t cha know opposed by the detective; following clues during a surreptitious investigation.  (We all crave closure)

Now back to my fellow “bedfellows”. Mr. Poe is credited with the first published (April 20th, 1841) detective story, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” with Monsieur C. Auguste Dupin as the Parisian sleuth gumshoe.

The good Reverend Monsignor Ronald Knox wrote mystery novels during the “Golden Age of Detective Fiction” during the 1920s and 1930s. This is when the moniker, “Gumshoe” crept into the mystery writer’s parlance.

Father Knox originated his Ten Commandments (or Decalogue) that encapsulated the rules for writing a good “whodunit?”   These rules would have the reader follow-along the narrative with stealthy detective “gumshoe” as the mystery slowly unfolded as the pages were advanced by the captivated by the exploits by private detective (gumshoe) Miles Bredon.

As for humble and contrite me, the retired “Gumshoe”, I investigated and wrote a boatload of cases (lot’s of included horror) and my personal rules for writing my police reports per se, “true life crime mysteries”, was to always be open, honest and factual with no sneaking or creeping around in my size
12’s soft-soled shoes.

Validating the victim and holding the evil-doer accountable was my “mission from God” as Elroy and Jake of the “Blue Brothers” fame would exclaim.

There you have it my kind readers, a wee bit of trivia for your conversation “starter” or “ender” depending on your audience.

I think that now, I will slip-off my soft-soled sandals and relax with a good “whodunnit?” from my library.  No kindles for me!

Until next time dear readers, remember to always love the ones who love you and try to love the ones who don’t.  Coram Deo.

Danny Pitocco
Danny Pitocco
RETIRED (as a Detective with the Snohomish County Sherriff’s Department, Washington State), Danny has over forty years of law enforcement experience across city, county, state and federal levels of government, including service as a Special Agent for the DEA, US Department of Justice. He’s a decorated law enforcement veteran, and recipient of the "Detective of the Year" award for Snohomish County, Danny is a certified composite artist and has testified as an expert witness in the field of narcotics and modus operandi of particular crimes in state and federal courts in California, and has given testimony before federal grand juries. Danny served four years of active duty in the US Marine Corps and loves Jesus as his personal savior.

6 COMMENTS

    • Truth was always stranger than fiction during my subsequent criminal investigations Ken. I was always surprised just when I thought I heard it all or saw it all. The “nothing new under the son” adage does not always ring true in my experience. Thanks Ken for your comment.

  1. You have a way with words. Great article. I always liked the old Sherlock Holmes movies with Basil Rathbone and Dr. Watson (Nigel Bruce) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle..
    They were good old gum shoes. Elementary my Dear Pitocco.

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