Heres what I can recall about Reese with just a quick consult in my library. It won't be complete, but should point you in the right direction.
I'll save you $50 and tell you what's in the Rinn book. Rinn claims that in 1897 Professor Hyslop came to him, saying that he'd found a "real psychic." (James Hyslop was a member of the Society for Psychical Research along with Joe Rinn, Houdini and others.)
Rinn, under an assumed name, visited Reese and had a reading. By his own admission, Rinn was fooled. He immediately had a second reading and claims to have "caught" Reese by numbering the papers Reese was supposed to read. (In this instance, Reese would step out of the room while the sitter wrote out his questions. From Rinn's description, Reese got one-ahead by shoving a billet into Rinn's pocket, switching it as he did. Each billet was "answered" and "verified" getting the info for the next billet to be read.)
Confronted, and with Rinn telling him who he really was, Reese supposedly admitted his fakery, begging Rinn to let him continue working as he was an "old man" and that was "all he knew."
Reese supposedly promised to work "only as an entertainer," and not make any claims of being "in contact with the spirit world," which was enough to satisfy Rinn. Rinn claims that Reese did that for the remaining 30 years of his life. In return, Rinn promised not to expose him but "gave the facts about him" to Houdini who exposed Reese in 1924 in "A Magician Among the Spirits." (I do not have a copy of that, so I cant comment on what is said there.)
I think Houdini claims the same story in Paper Magic, substituting himself for Rinn, at least that's my memory. Rinn and Houdini had been friends since boyhood.
Rinn claims that Reese died in New York. Mulholland (referenced below) says he died "abroad."
The major problem I have with the Rinn book is that Rinn recounts verbatim conversations that are 50+ years old and does it throughout his book. An amazing feat of memoryif true.
Mulholland, writing in "Beware Familiar Spirits," talked about Fulton Oursler - identified as Samri Frickell - being able to duplicate Reese's work exactly. Mulholland mentions an expose of Reese's methods to the German Psychological Society by Dr. Bruno Birnbaum and Professor Moll, but no date or details were given.
As Reese was viewed as an "entertainer" by Mulholland, he declined to expose Reese's methods, something that didn't bother Samri Frickell/Fulton Oursler (see below) or Houdini.
Fulton Oursler, writing as Samri Frickell, exposed Reese in 1926 in The Evening Graphic, but Reese was defended by Thomas Edison who denounced Oursler publicly for the expose. The Edison letter to The Evening Graphic is reprinted in Mulhollands 1938 book.
When you read that Reese did the "Foster pellet trick," the reference is to Charles H. Foster, a famous medium and billet reader who preceded Reese. Reese claimed to have worked with Foster, but unlike Foster, to the public he claimed that he did not contact the spirit world but had an ability to know what people wrote on small papers.
You might locate a copy of The Salem Seer, a book of the "reminiscences of Charles H. Foster" by George Bartlett. One is available for $125 at http://dogbert.abebooks.com/servlet/Sea ... r&sortby=2
I can't tell if my copy is a modern reprint or a re-bound original (1891), but it is interesting reading if only to give flavor and background to the times and the credulity of believers.
This article might be of interest as well - http://www.tricksterbook.com/ArticlesOn ... search.htm
The important thing about Reese's work is that he had a tiny repertoire of methods and effects, essentially two or three ways of doing one effect: the reading of pellets and billets.
In his Bert Reese Docimasy Al Mann talks about Reese using the pellet switch (see Germain's method recounted in "Germain's Gem" in The Jinx or Practical Mental Effects) and the Temple Switch. Al also believed that Reese was expert in the Center Tear, back when it was almost completely unknown to magicians and not at all to the general public.
Reeses simple and direct methods were honed to perfection and from descriptions of what he did, he wasn't in a hurry to do the "work," waiting for the correct moment to execute the switch. Accompanied by a quick mind, Reese was able to live well for decades.
It would be interesting to learn what you can dig up in Germany, should those records have survived WW II.