How To Crack Cases Like A 19th Century Boston Police Detective15:00

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Popular journalistic endeavors about wrongful convictions or murky police cases like the Netflix show "Making a Murderer" has drawn a lot of attention to police investigative techniques.

Many of those techniques were born out of Boston in the middle of the 19th century, with the creation of the nation's first police detectives. They were created at a time when Boston was undergoing massive change — from a small town to an incorporated city, which included a large influx of immigrants.


Matthew Pearl, author of numerous novels, including "The Technologists" and "The Last Bookaneer." He tweets @MatthewPearl.


The Boston Globe Magazine: Into The Shadows

  • "When investigators enlist secret informants or covertly track an individual’s movements or synthesize clues across a chaotic crime scene to rapidly identify suspects, they build on revolutionary and controversial methods pioneered by the first generation of American detectives and Boston’s remarkable 19th-century experiment in policing."

This segment aired on May 2, 2016.