Nick Carter – Old Thunderbolt, Locomotive

| January 11, 2013

Nick Carter Detective Library

Old Thunderbolt, Locomotive
Or, The Package in the Midnight Mail
By Frederic Van Rensselaer Dey

This is issue #7 in the Nick Carter Detective Library, originally published September 19, 1891 by Frederic Van Rensselaer Dey.

Have you ever heard of a locomotive engine and its driver being so compatible that the machine would work on its own if the human engineer is unable to perform his duties? That is just one of the strange situations set before detective Nick Carter in this story from the Nick Carter Library.

Bill Lewis is the engine driver known as “Old Thunderbolt” and the railroad engine itself is known as “Old Thunderbolt, Locomotive.” Bill Lewis is so exhausted that he literally falls asleep at the switch during the run to La Junta, when a stranger boards the engine and shoots Patsy Flynn, the fireman, the engine performs automatically even without Lewis’s hand on the throttle and pulls into La Junta ahead of schedule.

Nick becomes involved with the engine and its driver after receiving a telegram from the railroad. There is an unusual crime: a package containing $75,000 that was sent to La Junta by the midnight mail never reached its destination. The authorities were suspicious that something was wrong and sent two packages, addressed to Jasper Colton, one containing the money and the other some socks! The package with the socks was delivered safely and on time.

This story gives the lie to the statement that Nick Carter solved all his cases through action and not by deduction. There are many examples of his using reasoning to arrive at the correct solution. This is not to say there is no action because the scene that takes place in the mineshaft where Nick is in danger of losing his life is one of the most gripping in the entire series. The scene also contains information about mining and the dangers for those working in mines that demonstrate Frederic Dey was not drawing on his imagination only, but knew how to include verifiable facts in his writing.

Along the way Nick assumes his share of disguises from “Irving Spaulding, Boston, Mass,” to a railroad fireman, to a left-handed man who needs someone to write a letter for him because his left arm is in a sling (so he can get a sample of the person’s handwriting), to a Mexican, to the best disguise of all, his own persona – the one few people have ever seen.

When Nick turns the money he had earned on this case over to the boy who saved the detective’s life in the mines in order to further his education it adds a dimension to what we already know about his character.

J. Randolph Cox
Former Editor of Dime Novel Roundup.
World’s Leading Authority on the Nick Carter Detective Series.



We have recovered the full length novel of Old Thunderbolt, Locomotive and reproduced it for immediate download in Adobe Acrobat PDF format.

Category: Nick Carter

Dave Buchanan

About the Author ()

While I'm not the author of the books on this website, I'm a treasure hunter of sorts, collecting, archiving and reproducing rare, out-of-print books from some of the most talented writers in the world. Dime Novel Castle was created to be an online library featuring some of the world’s most famous characters from the dime novel era. My goal is to create textually correct reproductions of select rare, out-of-print Dime Novels and serials, published from 1860 thru 1915. My team of researchers has searched all over the country in order to locate the original newspapers, books and manuscripts. Each page of the original publication is scanned and archived in order to preserve the author's place in history and pass these great stories on to future generations.

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