Posts Tagged ‘detective fiction’
Posted by Writing PIs on June 28, 2011
- Available in July 2011
(Excerpt from our upcoming book How to Write a Dick: A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths, available July 2011 on Kindle and Nook)
Writer’s Question: What makes fraud different from an average garden-variety argument over a broken-down business deal?
Answer: We look for signs of one person (or several persons) who hide important information or who abuses his/her position in a business relationship. An example of this would be an accountant who knowingly misrepresents the financial condition of a company. Another example is a business manager who willingly hides lawsuits against his/her company from a potential purchaser.
Writer’s Question: Can someone be guilty of fraud in a divorce proceeding?
Answer: Yes. When one partner hides income or assets, or even hides the fact of remarriage (when that remarried partner is still receiving maintenance from the former spouse), you find fraudulent misrepresentations that can be the subject of a separate civil lawsuit for fraud. Keep in mind that any divorce proceeding is the dissolution of a marriage partnership that mimics a business partnership. In both instances, you can have misrepresentation and reliance on those misrepresentations.
Writer’s Question: As investigators, what do you look for when you are asked to find fraud?
Answer: Like most investigations, a fraud investigation begins in public records, where we look to uncover business acquisitions and acquisitions of personal property that show an unusual amount of income that the partner investigated is otherwise unable to access. For example, if a business owner who is selling a corporation that’s in financial trouble, has recently purchased a new car, a new house, and a boat — information we’ve dug up through property, vehicle and boat ownership records — we know that he/she is likely to have emptied corporate assets to make these purchases in his/her name. What did the owner think h/she was accomplishing by purchasing these personal property items? Hiding money. Why didn’t h/she think they’d be caught? Well, sad to say this, but often people just do dumb things, probably because they’ve gotten away with such acts in the past, too. The flip side is people often don’t think someone else, such as a law firm/investigator, is going to dig for this information.
Have a great week, Writing PIs
Posted in Investigating Fraud | Tagged: articles, blog, detective fiction, fiction writing, fraud investigations, How to Write a Dick: A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths, mystery writers, PI genre, private detective, private investigator, writing PIs | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Writing PIs on June 16, 2011
A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths
- eBook Available in July!
Upcoming Virtual Book Blog Tour Schedule
Below is our current schedule for HOW TO WRITE A DICK, with more blog stops coming. At each stop, we’ll be posting new articles on investigative tips and techniques (with the occasional true-crime PI story). Mark the dates, baby.
BOOK BLOGGERS: If you have a blog geared to writers who write sleuths or readers who love reading about sleuths, crime and gumshoe techniques, and you have a spot for us in July or August, drop a comment and we’ll get back to you (be sure to leave an email address and your blog url).
Thursday, July 7: Jungle Red Writers
Thursday, July 14: Mystery Writing Is Murder
Wednesday, July 20: Poe’s Deadly Daughters
Thursday, July 21: Cold Case Squad
Friday, July 23: Stiletto Gang
Tuesday, August 2: Mystery/Romance Writer Terry Odell Terry’s Place
Thursday, August 11: Defrosting Cold Cases
Thursday, August 25: Mystery writer Patricia Stoltey’s blog
Date TBA: The Biting Edge, a blog shared by authors and vampire experts, Mario Acevedo and Jeanne Stein
Posted in History of Trials, Writing About PIs, Writing Legal Characters/Stories, Writing Mysteries, Writing PIs | Tagged: detective fiction, fiction writers, fiction writing, How to Write a Dick: A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths, private detective, private investigator, virtual blog tour for HOW TO WRITE A DICK, writing mysteries | 3 Comments »
Posted by Writing PIs on June 1, 2011
- How to Write a Dick: A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths
“Forget Google and Bing. When you need to research PI work, go to the experts, Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman: they live it, they teach it, they write it. How to Write a Dick is the best work of its kind I’ve ever come across because it covers the whole spectrum in an entertaining style that will appeal to layman and lawmen alike. This will be the industry standard for years to come.” - Reed Farrel Coleman, three-time Shamus Award winner for Best PI Novel of the Year and author of Hurt Machine
“How to Write a Dick is a gift to crime fiction authors everywhere, a comprehensive and no-nonsense compendium of information, analysis and thought-provoking writing prompts that will help you create your own 21st century shamus with confidence and class. An absolute must for the library of any PI writer!” - Kelli Stanley, critically acclaimed author of City of Dragons and the Miranda Corbie series
“What every wanna-be sleuth needs: a revolver, a bottle of scotch, a trusty sidekick, and this book.” - Mario Acevedo, author of Werewolf Smackdown
“If you want authenticity in creating a fictional private investigator for your stories, then this is a must-have reference book. Its authors, Colleen and Shaun, are living breathing PIs with years of actual experience in the PI game.” - R.T. Lawton, 25 years on the street as a federal special agent and author of 4 series in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine.
Available on Kindle and Nook July 2011
Posted in Writing About PIs | Tagged: answering writers questions about sleuths, detective fiction, fiction writing, How to Write a Dick, mystery writers, non-fiction book for writers, PI genre, private detective, private investigator, writing PIs | Comments Off
Posted by Writing PIs on May 22, 2011
A criminal defense attorney might ask a private investigator to critique the processing of a crime scene, or a private investigator might conduct her own crime scene processing for a client. You’d be surprised the evidence that can be found days, weeks, even months after law enforcement has closed the crime scene for their investigations.
The basic steps an investigator follows, including law enforcement investigators, typically include the following:
- Check the condition of any victims and arrange medical treatment if necessary.
- Secure and protect the crime scene. Keep in mind the possibility this crime scene might be the first in a series of crime scenes.
- Determine if further search is legal. If yes, the private investigator must obtain consent from the investigating authority or property owner, such as law enforcement or a landlord. If the investigator is a law enforcement officer, he obtains a search warrant from a local judge.
- Search, sketch, and document. Precise measurements of the crime scene include an accurate sketch containing a key, a scale and a legend noting the day, time, location and weather conditions. It is also useful to document compass directions on the sketch. Also, if documenting the crime scene via photographs or video, it is useful to film dimensions – height, width and length — with a measuring tape.
- Document the crime scene and its physical evidence. In law enforcement, a videographer typically accompanies an assigned officer on the initial walk-through of a crime scene. Similarly, a private investigator can document the crime scene layout with photographs or video. It is important to take close-up photographs of important items of evidence, such as footwear or impressions of objects.
- Handle the evidence so as to not contaminate it. Such precautions include wearing latex gloves and inserting evidence into plastic baggies.
- Collect, mark and catalogue evidence.
- Preserve the evidence in a central, organized location, such as a locked closet.
Have a good weekend, Writing PIs
Posted in Private Eyes Handling Crime Scenes | Tagged: articles, blog, Crime Scenes, detective fiction, handling evidence, mystery writers, PIs at crime scenes, private investigator | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Writing PIs on May 3, 2011
Article is now available in How Do Private Eyes Do That?
Posted in Writing About PIs, Writing Mysteries | Tagged: articles, blog, detective fiction, infidelity investigations, Lew Archer, mystery writers, PI genre, PIs at crime scenes, private detective, private investigator, Ross Macdonald, signs of infidelity, writing PIs | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Writing PIs on April 9, 2011
Writer’s Question: Is there a time frame that an area remains a crime scene? I’m picturing the yellow caution tape in a public place and wondering how long that remains up. What kind of time frame might apply to a crime scene in a residence (for example, if someone is found dead in a family room, how long do the residents of the house need to stay out of the room?) I’m thinking that from the time the police leave to when a PI shows up, a lot could happen in that room if a family member so desires.
Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes’s Answer: A police crime scene excludes all but those who are trained to respect procedures for preservation and collection of evidence. Generally speaking, after a period of approximately 1-24 hours, the area is returned to normal use.
Regarding a crime scene in a residence, specifically (per your question) a dead body found therein: Be mindful that police will remove those parts of the family room that they consider important evidence (for example, blood-stained carpeting and drywall spattered with blood). Also, police will photograph/videotape the family room in the exact state in which they found it. In other words, by the time the family returns and changes anything, the PI will have copies of police photographs as well as access to physical evidence that’s within police custody. There are certainly instances where PIs would still seek access to the home (for example, to photograph the layout, measurements, etc.) but that is accomplished through court order or consent of the victim’s family.
Posted in Q&As | Tagged: articles, blog, Crime Scenes, detective fiction, fiction writing, mystery writers, PI genre, PIs at crime scenes, private detective, private investigator, writing PIs | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Writing PIs on March 20, 2011
Rick Johnson, founder and president of The Private Investigators Academy of the Rockies
There’s a lot of online training courses on how to be a private investigator, but one of the best (if not the best) classroom courses is The Private Investigators Academy of the Rockies in Denver, Colorado.
We know because we took this course years ago when we first opened our private investigations business. Since then, we’ve taken many other courses, and taught a fair share ourselves, but if you’re starting out in the business, want to brush up your PI skills, or are a writer wanting to learn about the world of private investigations, take this class.
Here’s a sampling of why it’s an excellent course of study:
- Rick Johnson, founder and president of the academy, has 35 years of experience in law enforcement and private investigations.
- Course study includes investigative tactics, techniques, tools, as well as the appropriate ethics and legalities of the profession.
- Investigative topics include these specialized areas of investigations: domestic relations, legal investigations, criminal defense investigations, insurance investigations, financial fraud investigations, and process service.
- Presenters include lawyers and experts in the fields of financial fraud, surveillance, family law, criminal defense and process service.
But don’t take it solely from us–read about the course, contact them, ask questions:
Click this link to read more: The Private Investigators Academy of the Rockies
Or send an email to Rick Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org
Oh, we’re not affiliated with this class, just passing on the information to those who want to learn from one of the best.
Have a great weekend, Writing PIs
Posted in Training to be a PI | Tagged: detective fiction, how to be a private investigator, mystery writers, private investigator, private investigator training, Rick Johnson, surveillance, The Private Investigators Academy of the Rockies, writing PIs | 1 Comment »
Posted by Writing PIs on March 15, 2011
This article now available in How Do Private Eyes Do That? available on Kindle and Nook.
Posted in Expectation of Privacy | Tagged: articles, blog, Colleen Collins, detective fiction, expectation of privacy, fiction writing, How Do Private Eyes Do That?, PI genre, private investigator, writing PIs | 1 Comment »
Posted by Writing PIs on December 23, 2010
As 2010 come to an end, lots of people post their favorite top-10 somethings (favorite 10 books, movies, whatever). We’d like to post 10 of our favorite, and best of all free, 2010 private eye links because we can’t decide which of the many we use and like are actually the best of the bunch. So here goes…
10 of Our Favorite, and Free!, 2010 Private Eye Links
1. Our monthly Highlands Investigations H.E.L.P. (Handy Education for Legal Professionals) Tip Sheet, with links to articles, tips, links, and answers to readers’ questions about investigations. We hand-pick info that investigators, researchers, writers, others might need to know, are curious to learn about, or simply enjoy reading: H.E.L.P. Tip Sheet
2. An excellent, informative private investigations blog from McEachin & Associates, Ltd. : The Confidential Resource
3. It’s still the most comprehensive public search engine around, our first “go to” place to do a quick look-up: Google
4. This public deep web search engine is another great starting point for people searches: Pipl
5. We love to read about fictional PIs, too. This site is a grand journey into the world of fictional PIs, from Victorian England to the mean streets of New York: The Thrilling Detective
6. Great source for investigation articles by PIs, as well as the latest investigation news from around the world: PINow.com Investigation News
7. Another people search engine that dredges the web and social networks: Kgbpeople
8. PI’s Declassified Internet radio show: PI’s DeClassified
9. Articles about the art of criminal defense written by one of the best criminal defense trial attorneys in the country: H. Michael Steinberg, Colorado Criminal Defense Specialist
10. Online trade journal for private investigators, legal professionals, and protective services industries: Pursuit Magazine
Have a safe, happy holiday, Writing PIs
Posted in Writing About PIs | Tagged: articles, blog, detective fiction, H Michael Steinberg, Highlands Investigations H.E.L.P. Tip Sheet, PI genre, PINow.com, Pipl, Pursuit Magazine, The Confidential Resource, The Thrilling Detective, top private eye links | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Writing PIs on November 12, 2010
Today we’re posting some writers’ questions, and our answers, about DNA samples.
Writer’s Question: Does a DNA sample taken at a crime scene have to be perfect? Does it have to be intact and isolated? What if a DNA sample is picked up by a sleuth long after the police have left the crime scene–the DNA is from the floor of an auto garage where there’s oil, gas, etc. as well as dried blood.
Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes’ Answer: PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) technology makes it possible to isolate identifiable strands of DNA, even when the sample is mixed with other chemicals and organic substances. For instance, scientists in Australia were able to recently extract and identify blood in a leech as containing the DNA of an identifiable human suspect who has since been convicted of robbing someone (and having left a leech at the crime scene). In this example, PCR technology was able to differentiate between the human and animal chromosones.
Writer’s Question: Can one private forensics lab screw up DNA results, while another provides better, more realistic results?
Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes’ Answe: Absolutely. There are certain labs that have had their results reviewed by a second opinion (from an outside lab) and it has been shown that the original lab used improper techniques or slanted calculation statistics (as to the population). How might a sleuth research if a private forensics lab is subject to criticism? One way is for a sleuth (or a fictional sleuth in a story) to go to an organization that would have expert feedback on forensic science third-party experts (from qualified private forensic labs to fingerprint experts to polygraph examiners and more). Examples of such organizations are the state/national criminal defense organizations, the state/federal public defenders offices, state/national trial lawyers organizations. As a writer, if you (or your sleuth in a story) were wanting a recommendation for a qualified forensic lab in a particular state, you/the fictional sleuth might google one of these organizations, then write a letter to their director (who, if he/she can’t help you, will most likely route it to a contact who can).
Last note: Some of the organizations we mentioned maintain databases of such experts. In more than a few instances, individual attorneys coming up against a lab in a court case have used their own investigators to research and determine the pros/cons of a particular lab. This data is then added to the database. Faults these investigators might learn about labs are how they inadequately store evidence samples, how scientists might be overworked and prone to making mistakes, or if a lab has financial problems (which causes them to cut corners, which in turn would most likely affect the integrity of their results).
Have a great weekend, Writing PIs
Posted in Q&As, Writing About PIs | Tagged: answering writers questions about sleuths, articles, blog, detective fiction, DNA databases, DNA Samples, private detective, private forensic labs | Leave a Comment »