The Silent Bullet HTML version
Craig Kennedy's Theories
"It has always seemed strange to me that no one has ever endowed a professorship in
criminal science in any of our large universities."
Craig Kennedy laid down his evening paper and filled his pipe with my tobacco. In
college we had roomed together, had shared everything, even poverty, and now that Craig
was a professor of chemistry and I was on the staff of the Star, we had continued the
arrangement. Prosperity found us in a rather neat bachelor apartment on the Heights, not
far from the University.
"Why should there be a chair in criminal science?" I remarked argumentatively, settling
back in my chair. "I've done my turn at police headquarters reporting, and I can tell you,
Craig, it's no place for a college professor. Crime is just crime. And as for dealing with it,
the good detective is born and bred to it. College professors for the sociology of the thing,
yes; for the detection of it, give me a Byrnes."
"On the contrary," replied Kennedy, his clean-cut features betraying an earnestness which
I knew indicated that he was leading up to something important, "there is a distinct place
for science in the detection of crime. On the Continent they are far in advance of us in
that respect. We are mere children beside a dozen crime-specialists in Paris, whom I
"Yes, but where does the college professor come in?" I asked, rather doubtfully.
"You must remember, Walter," he pursued, warming up to his subject, "that it's only
within the last ten years or so that we have had the really practical college professor who
could do it. The silk-stockinged variety is out of date now. To-day it is the college
professor who is the third arbitrator in labour disputes, who reforms our currency, who
heads our tariff commissions, and conserves our farms and forests. We have professors of
everything--why not professors of crime"
Still, as I shook my head dubiously, he hurried on to clinch his point. "Colleges have
gone a long way from the old ideal of pure culture. They have got down to solving the
hard facts of life--pretty nearly all, except one. They still treat crime in the old way, study
its statistics and pore over its causes and the theories of how it can be prevented. But as
for running the criminal himself down, scientifically, relentlessly--bah! we haven't made
an inch of progress since the hammer and tongs method of your Byrnes."
"Doubtless you will write a thesis on this most interesting subject," I suggested, "and let
it go at that."
"No, I am serious," he replied, determined for some reason or other to make a convert of
me. "I mean exactly what I say. I am going to apply science to the detection of crime, the