PIs as Criminals: Great in Fiction, Bad in Real Life
Posted by Writing PIs on November 18, 2012
Sounds like a line out of a bad noir movie, but we’ve actually had someone request that. In this case, the man wanted us to put some muscle on a guy who’d stolen his Ferrari. Yes, Ferrari. We explained that unlike Tony Soprano, we don’t do muscle. The guy then asked if we could locate the stolen Ferrari. That we can do, and did
We’ve also been asked multiple times to attach GPS devices on vehicles the requestor doesn’t own to downloading listening software on people’s cell phones. After explaining that we do not conduct such illegal activities, we explain to callers that if they decide to do such criminal acts on their own, they’ll be facing felony charges if caught.
Ads to Help People Wiretap
It’s interesting how many ads are out there (magazines, Internet) for cellphone software that a buyer can then download on someone’s cell phone and listen to (and track) all their conversations. We’ve had callers say, “But they claim their product is legal in the ads!” No, they don’t claim their product is legal, but they sure make it sound that way.
Real-Life PIs Who Go Bad
Although all the private investigators we know play by the legal rules, there are the few who drift over to the dark side. Some drift in a big, bad way like Anthony Pellicano, the former high-profile Los Angeles PI who’s now serving time in a federal prison for illegal possession of explosives, firearms and homemade grenades, unlawful wiretapping and racketeering.
Then there’s former Concord, California, private investigator Christopher Butler who’s spending 8 years in a federal prison for committing a string of felonies that included the theft and sale of drugs from the Contra Costa Narcotics Enforcement Team and setting up “dirty DUI” schemes where men going through contentious divorces were set up for drunk driving arrests.
Bad PIs Are Good in Fiction
When it comes to fiction, however, bad is good. It bumps up the stakes and tension if a fictional sleuth, knowing he/she is committing a felony, does it anyway. They illegally track with a GPS, knowing the consequences if they get caught, but they’re doing it for a compelling reason (to save a child, for example). Adds complexity and tension to the story, doesn’t it? Or they go into the gray zone and purchase that illegal cell phone software as a last means to track a killer. As a writer, knowing what’s legal or not for your protagonist sleuth helps you crank up the stakes. Plus it adds plausibility.
Mark Your Calendars: The Zen Man will be free November 25-27!
Speaking of fictional PIs, one of the Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes’ novel, The Zen Man, which features a man-and-woman PI team, will be free November 25 – 27, 2012. Yeah, one of them’s a good PI who does some bad things.
Semifinalist Best Indie Books of 2012, The Kindle Book Reviews
“A brilliant mystery novel…I eagerly await the return of the Zen Man.”
~Becky Sherriff, The Kindle Book Review
“What I didn’t expect were the touches of romantic language, as delicate and erotic as a glance by Humphrey Bogart from under his hat. I also didn’t expect the humorous touches in what is essentially one man’s life-or-death fight to save his soul, his business and the love of his life.”
~Bonnie Ramthun, multi-published mystery and YA author
“Move over Sam Spade, Nick and Nora; make room for a Denver who-dun-it, Colleen Collins’s The Zen Man. Brilliant and fast-paced writing. I couldn’t put it down.”
~ Donnell Ann Bell, Award-Winning Author of The Past Came Hunting
- Can a Minor Hire a Private Detective? (writingpis.wordpress.com)
- The Writing PIs ranked #8 in PINow’s Top 75 Investigators on Twitter 2012 (writingpis.wordpress.com)
- Imprisoned detective may pose risk to star clients (foxnews.com)
- Pellican- Private eye (surveillanceculturelmu.wordpress.com)
- Former private investigator sentenced to eight years in police corruption scandal (mercurynews.com)
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