Posts Tagged ‘mystery writers’
Posted by Writing PIs on December 14, 2011
Today we’re answering a writer’s question about private investigators, police detectives and crime scenes.
Writer’s Question: Who has the authority to authorize a PI to work with a detective on a crime scene? What is the procedure to do this?
Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes’s Answer: Cops are very territorial about crime scenes. This is cross-examination they do not want to hear: “Detective, you let an amateur who is not certified as a peace officer traipse through the crime scene, touch evidence, disturb clues…all under minimal supervision?” In other words, a defense attorney would have a field day learning a cop/s allowed a PI onto an active crime scene to work with the police.
However, saying that, there could be extraordinary circumstances where law enforcement would allow a PI to work alongside detectives in an active crime scene. For example, if the PI was working for the victim’s family, or if the PI had some special technical skill or forensics knowledge that would benefit the police investigation. Most certainly, under these special circumstances, the PI would be more likely allowed to work with the police if the PI had been previously employed as law enforcement.
What might the procedure be? It’s really the PI obtaining permission from law enforcement personnel or their supervisor, depending on that law enforcement department’s procedures.
Have a great week, Writing PIs
How Do Private Eyes Do That? available on Kindle and Nook
Posted in Writing About PIs | Tagged: Colleen Collins, Crime Scenes, fiction writers, How Do Private Eyes Do That?, kindle nonfiction, mystery writers | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Writing PIs on December 6, 2011
Today at Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes, we’re talking on two different sites about a couple of topics legal professionals, investigators and writers might find of interest: double jeopardy law and using motive, opportunity and means in stories. Links below:
Burglary, Assault and Double Jeopardy Law
…Fuentes had entered a home with the intent to assault someone and ended up assaulting two people. At trial, the prosecutor convinced the judge and the jury that entering a home with the intent to commit the crime of assault against two people (burglary is breaking into a home with the intent to commit a crime) was actually two different burglaries. Therefore, Fuentes was convicted of two counts of first degree burglary in Pueblo County District Court. However, the Colorado Supreme Court disagreed,
When Writing a Whodunit, Think of Dear ol’ MOM (Motive, Opportunity and Means)
In U.S. criminal law, MOM encapsulates three sides of a crime necessary to convince a jury of guilt in a criminal proceeding. Did the defendant have a motive to commit the crime? Did the defendant have an opportunity, or chance, to accomplish the deed? Did the defendant also have the ability (means)? Let’s look at some ways a fictional sleuth might use MOM in a story…
Have a great day, Writing PIs
How Do Private Eyes Do That? available on Kindle and Nook
How to Write a Dick: A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuthsavailable on Kindle and Nook
Posted in Writing About PIs | Tagged: Colleen Collins, double jeopardy law, motive opportunity and means, mystery writers, Shaun Kaufman Law, The Zen Man | Comments Off
Posted by Writing PIs on November 7, 2011
Mark your calendars to drop by Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes on Wednesday, November 9, for our interview with Reed Farrel Coleman, author of Hurt Machine, which Publishers Weekly just named one of the top 10 mysteries of the year.
Here at Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes, we’re big Moe fans. Hurt Machine is the best of Moe, the one that will catapult Coleman into the public eye as one of must-read authors in the mystery genre. Never heard of Reed Farrel Coleman? Time you did. We added his bio below. You can pre-order Hurt Machine at Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Bio: Reed Farrel Coleman
Called a hard-boiled poet by NPR’s Maureen Corrigan and the noir poet laureate in the Huffington Post, Reed Farrel Coleman has published fourteen novels. He is the three-time recipient of the Shamus Award for Best Detective Novel of the Year and a two-time Edgar Award nominee. He has also won the Macavity, Barry, and Anthony Awards. He was the co-editor of the poetry journals Poetry Bone and The Lineup. Reed was the editor of the short story anthology Hard Boiled Brooklyn. His short fiction, poetry, and essays have appeared in numerous publications. He is an instructor for MWA U and an adjunct professor at Hofstra University. He lives with his wife and family on Long Island.
PRAISE for Hurt Machine
“Razor-edged contemporary whodunits don’t get much better than Shamus-winner Coleman’s seventh Moe Prager mystery (after 2010’s Innocent Monster). Shortly after the Brooklyn PI learns that he has stomach cancer, Carmella Melendez, his ex-wife, asks him to look into the stabbing murder of her estranged sister, Alta Conseco. Two months before her demise, Conseco and a fellow EMT, Maya Watson, became the subject of international outrage after failing while off-duty to help Robert Tillman, a cook who suffered a fatal stroke at a Manhattan bistro. Prager pursues the obvious course of seeking a link between Conseco’s and Tillman’s deaths. Watson has become an uncommunicative recluse, who provides little help, but the owner of the restaurant near where Conseco died is an old friend and an ex-cop, happy to help in any way he can. Logical and surprising plot twists combine with Prager’s world-weary narrative voice to produce another winner.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
See you Wednesday, Writing PI
Posted in Interviews, Reed Farrel Coleman | Tagged: detective fiction, Hurt Machine, Moe Prager, mystery writers, private eye genre, Publishers Weekly, Reed Farrel Coleman, top 10 mysteries of 2010, writing PIs | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Writing PIs on November 6, 2011
Today we’re answering writers’ questions about private forensic labs.
Writer’s Question: Where can one find these forensic labs?
Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes: Personally, we network with other private investigators, lawyers, addiction treatment personnel, even coroners about good DEA-approved private forensic toxicology labs. We searched to see if there’s a list of these labs online and found the following:
Writer’s Question: Are ALL of them available to civilians?
Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes:In the link above, the specification to be on the list requires that the lab routinely performs tests for private as well as public agencies.
Writer’s Question: How expensive is it?
Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes:In our personal experience (working with civilian client-cases that require chemical analytics), the cost has been about $250 per sample for drug testing. Urine testing is between $20-$150. Hair sample testing in the $120 range. If you’re needing more specific info for a story, contact a local lab and ask their prices (our experience has been that lab personnel are very accessible and can clearly explain testing methods).
Writer’s Question: What if a civilian suspected a poisoning was occurring and wanted to find out?
Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes:Funny you should ask. We actually had a private lab chemist chat with us about a case she recently had that came into her office…a mother suspected her daughter was poisoning her (chemicals into a substance…we forget exactly what this substance was, but we think the daughter was putting something into her mother’s nightly glass of wine). The chemist at the lab told us the mother was right — they had found toxic chemicals in the sample the mother had brought into the lab.
Writer’s Question: What is the process? What paperwork would the PI/civilian have to complete? Does the lab call/mail results? How long (if they aren’t very busy)?
Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes: All that’s necessary is chain of custody material: that the sample was seized and handled carefully by the PI, and that the same is sealed and sent in a bag to the lab. In our experience, the lab has faxed us a simple form where we document what we want tested, and how we’re paying (like any other business, they want the money upfront). Regarding how the lab sends results, we receive it by fax & email (we’ve also found we can call at any time to check on their research, and they’re very accommodating to take our calls, answer our questions, explain their turnaround time for results, etc). If they aren’t busy, we typically get results in 72 hours, sometimes a bit longer.
Writer’s Question: What evidence, if any, would the lab be required to report to law enforcement officials?
Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes:They don’t have a requirement to report to law enforcement.
Writer’s Question: Is there a time limit/conditions beyond which results would be unattainable or inconclusive?
Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes:Samples don’t lose markers for chemicals unless they are kept under poor conditions (moisture or heat such as light).
Have a great weekend, Writing PIs
Posted in Q&As, Writing About PIs, Writing Mysteries, Writing PIs | Tagged: articles, blog, detective fiction, fiction writing, mystery writers, PI genre, private forensic labs, private investigator | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Writing PIs on October 9, 2011
Writing a sleuth character? Want to know how to locate a cell phone number? Curious how a private investigator might investigate a homicide or crime scene?
How Do Private Eyes Do That? is a compilation of articles about private investigations written by Colleen Collins, a professional private investigator (and one of the Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes blog authors). Its topics are geared to readers interested in the world of PIs, including fiction writers, researchers, investigators and those simply curious about the profession.
A supplement to the book is a chapter from How to Write a Dick: A Guide to Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths, co-authored by Colleen Collins. This chapter describes numerous specializations in the field of private investigations, including legal investigations, infidelity investigations, pet detection, insurance investigations, personal injury investigations, executive protection and more.
“If you’re looking for the lowdown on private investigations, this is it. Packed with details and insights. A must-have for anybody writing private-eye fiction and for anybody who’s curious about what being a private-eye is really like.”
- Bill Crider, author of the Sheriff Dan Rhodes series and many other novels in multiple genres
“A must have for any writer serious about crafting authentic private eyes. Collins knows her stuff.”
- Lori Wilde, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author
How Do Private Eyes Do That? on Kindle: Click here
How Do Private Eyes Do That? on Nook: Click here
Posted in Nonfiction book: HOW DO PRIVATE EYES DO THAT?, Writing About PIs | Tagged: articles, blog, Colleen Collins, detective fiction, How Do Private Eyes Do That?, Kindle nonfiction book, mystery writers, nonfiction book on private investigations, Nook nonfiction book, PI genre, private investigations, private investigator | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Writing PIs on September 1, 2011
You know us as the Writing PIs. In this week’s Westword, Denver’s weekly independent newspaper, we’re also “these married Denver detectives” in the paper’s cover story:
That cover is pretty cool (see above). They made it look like a beat-up dime novel with a tough, noir-ish private eye in a fedora and trenchcoat, holding a gun. The top right “page” corner is folded over, like you’re keeping your place in the paperback story. The reporter, Melanie Asmar, met with us between three and four times for interviews…toward the end she told us of her vision for the story (layering a writer’s PI story, based on one of our cases with us as the story’s protagonists, with interviews with us). She did a fantastic job.
To read about our cases, how we became PIs, and more than you probably ever wanted to know about a couple of married Denver detectives, click on the below link:
Westword: The Plot Thickens
Have a great week, Writing PIs AKA Denver’s Nick and Nora
Posted in Westword: The Plot Thickens | Tagged: articles, blog, books, Denver detectives, Denver legal investigators, Denver private investigators, detective fiction, fiction writing, Highlands Investigations & Legal Services, Inc., mysteries, mystery writers, PI genre, Westword: The Plot Thickens, writing PIs | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Writing PIs on August 25, 2011
A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths
Today we’re guests at mystery writer Pat Stoltey’s blog, where we offer a few tips and techniques for interviewing witnesses. Because so many readers of Pat’s blog are mystery writers, we slanted the blog toward writers writing fiction, but there’s handy info there for investigators and others.
We’re also giving away a free Kindle version of How to Write a Dick: A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths to one of today’s visitors at Pat’s blog. We’ll pick a name at random from one of the comments/questions posted today at her blog — winner’s name will be announced later this evening.
To read the blog, click on below link:
Pat Stoltey’s blog: Tips and Techniques for Interviewing Witnesses
Have a great day, Writing PIs
Posted in PI Topics, Tips and Techniques for Interviewing Witnesses | Tagged: How to Write a Dick: A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths, mystery writers, nonfiction books for writers, Patricia Stoltey blog, PI genre, PIs interviewing witnesses, private investigator, virtual blog tour for HOW TO WRITE A DICK | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Writing PIs on August 11, 2011
Today we’re guests at Defrosting Cold Cases, a blog that specializes in articles/discussions about unsolved homicides, missing persons, unidentified persons, forensics, wrongful convictions, prosecutorial misconduct, and books related to these subjects. If you’re a writer, bookmark this blog — you’ll learn a lot here about cold cases, forensics, investigations and much more.
Our guest article (“My Son Is Missing”) is about a missing person case several years ago that led us to the strange, sometimes frightening, inner-circle of a cult. We were more than “PIs” on this case — as parents, we also experienced the sorrow, desperation and grief of the parents whose son we were working hard to find.
Click on the link below to read the article:
Defrosting Cold Cases: “My Son Is Missing”
Have a good week, Writing PIs
Posted in PI Topics | Tagged: articles, blog, Defrosting Cold Cases, missing persons, mystery writers, private investigator | 1 Comment »
Posted by Writing PIs on August 2, 2011
Today we’re guests at Terry’s Place, writer Terry Odell’s blog, where she’s posted our article “Writing Rural Surveillances.” Writing a sleuth who needs to conduct a stakeout in the country? Curious how a private investigator might prepare for such a surveillance? Drop by and check out the article. We’re also giving away a Kindle version of How to Write a Dick: A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths.” If you don’t have a Kindle, no problem. You can download a free Kindle app for your PC or Mac.
Terry’s Place “Writing Rural Surveillances”
Have a great week, Writing PIs
Posted in Writing Mysteries, Writing PIs | Tagged: articles, blog, fiction writing, How to Write a Dick: A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths, mystery writers, private investigator, surveillance, Terry Odell, Writing a Rural Surveillance, writing PIs | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Writing PIs on July 22, 2011
We’re guests today at the mystery writers’ blog Stiletto Gang, where we’re talking about chasing cheaters in fiction (“Infidelity Investigations: E-Catching the Cheater”). What’s “e-catching”? Loosely, it’s an abbreviation that encompasses various means of electronic investigations. In our post, we address requests we commonly receive from prospective clients, such as:
“I see a new cell phone number on my husband’s cell phone history. I think it’s this woman he’s seeing. I want her name and address.”
“I think my fiancée is fooling around. I want to download spyware on her phone, listen in on her conversations.”
Drop by the blog and see our answers. Today, July 22, we’re also answering questions about infidelity investigations, so ask and we’ll answer! Plus at the end of the day we’re picking a visitor’s name to be gifted a free Kindle version of How to Write a Dick: A Guide to Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths.
Stiletto Gang post: Infidelity Investigations: E-Catching the Cheater
Have a great Friday, Writing PIs
Posted in Chasing Cheaters in Fiction | Tagged: cheating spouse, Colleen Collins, fiction writing, How to Write a Dick: A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths, infidelity investigations, mystery writers, private investigator, Shaun Kaufman, Stiletto Gang | 1 Comment »