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Minnesota's Oldest Murder Mystery: The Case of Edward Phalen: St. Paul's Unsaintly Pioneer Paperback – November 16, 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

History and mystery will take the reader deep into the world of this well-written, heartily researched, groundbreaking book. Gary Brueggemann's Minnesota's Oldest Murder Mystery is wish-we-were-there fascinating. --- Tim Rumsey, author of Pictures from a Trip

About the Author

Gary Brueggemann teaches history at Century and Inver Hills Community Colleges. A lifelong resident of St. Paul, he has spent the last 35 years researching, writing and teaching Minnesota History. He is the author of numerous works on St. Paul History, including at least 40 newspaper and magazine articles.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Beaver's Pond Press (November 16, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592985351
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592985357
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.9 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,110,367 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Debbie on December 9, 2012
Format: Paperback
This avid reader of fictional murder mysteries thoroughly enjoyed this nonfictional murder mystery and, at the completion of the book, was pretty much convinced who perpetrated the earliest murder in Minnesota. The author's exhaustive research and colorful descriptions of Minnesota's first settlers and landmarks taught this life-long resident of Minnesota a thing or two, that's for sure. The writing style of this well-written book totally pulls you into solving this crime by offering up the few facts as they existed so many years ago, and then presenting a fictional scenario which you may or may not buy into, but will give you something to think about nonetheless. Once digesting the facts and ruminating over the possible murder scenario and cover-up, you will (as a true detective would!) come to a conclusion as to whether Edward Phalen did or did not commit this murder. You will enjoy this wonderful read, and learn interesting and surprising facts about Minnesota's early "characters" and well-respected statesmen, and will enjoy viewing pictures of some great Minnesota landmarks. I recommend you try out your detecting skills by reading this murder mystery and see if you can figure out whodunit.
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By Nancy on December 12, 2012
Format: Paperback
Gary Brueggemann's book is a brilliant mixture of history and mystery. The extensive historical research about the crime and mid-1800's Minnesota, the attention to detail, and the style of writing helped the reader keep all of the characters and events straight. I couldn't put it down.
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Format: Paperback
Gary Brueggemann delights in historical detective work, and his book, Minnesota's Oldest Murder Mystery (Beaver's Pond Press), reveals the many methods possible in doing historical research.

The case in hand would certainly be classified in contemporary terms as a "cold case." After all, the death in question occurred more than 173 years ago -- the murder of John Hays, a respected soldier at Fort Snelling discharged earlier in 1839 to claim one of the prime early holdings at what would become the heart of downtown St. Paul (from present locations Eagle St. on the west, Minnesota St. on the east, between Kellogg Blvd. and the river, thus including Irvine and Rice Parks, the Xcel Center site and Upper Landing). That claim and the adjacent one were actually filed by Edward Phelan, using Hays' money, who had been discharged in 1838 and was therefore eligible to file land claims.

Phelan was described as an "immoral, cruel, revengeful and unscrupulous ruffian who boasted that he had led a lawless and criminal life"; in the course of Brueggemann's narrative we also see him as sly and clever, and quick-thinking in the face of many challenges to his claims of innocence. Hays, at least a dozen years older, was known as honest, courteous and clever, and found himself in a partnership with Phelan that was certainly unlikely to last. That it ended with his death provides Brueggemann with his historical and detection tasks.
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