Guns, Gams & Gumshoes

A blog for PIs and writers/readers of the PI genre

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Two Memorable Christmas Cases, Funny to Heartfelt

Posted by Writing PIs on December 4, 2018

As Christmas approaches, we remember two of our favorite investigation stories that occurred during the holidays, from the funny to the heartfelt.

Story #1: Serving Divorce Papers to a Happy Jailer

Several years ago, an angry soon-to-be-ex-wife told her attorney that she wanted divorce papers served on her soon-to-be-ex-husband on Christmas Day. No other day would do. Not Christmas Eve, not the day after Christmas. Had to be Christmas Day. The Happy Holidaysdivorce papers were to be her Christmas gift to the husband whom she had recently learned was keeping a girlfriend on the side.

The attorney contacted us and asked if we’d be willing to fulfill her Christmas wish. After hearing the story, we said yes. The husband was a deputy in a local jail, and was scheduled to work on Christmas Day.

That day, we drove to the jail, politely asked for him, and after he confirmed his identity, we served him the papers.

He read the first page, looked up at us, grinned, then exclaimed, “This might be the best Christmas gift I’ve ever had!”

Story #2: A Young Father Facing Months in Jail

handcuffed hands

One long-ago Christmas Eve, one of the Writing PIs, at the time working as a defense lawyer, went to court for the initial appearance of a young father accused of a restraining order violation on his ex-wife. Without a lower bond, he could lose his job, his home, and miss opportunities to spend time with his sons. The young father was facing up to six months in jail if found guilty on all counts.

The lawyer-half of Writing PIs pointed out to the judge that, at worst, the young man was guilty of contacting his ex-wife so he could obtain a much-needed antibiotic medicine for the youngest son who had a bad ear infection. The judge saw through the ex-wife’s hysterics and false accusations, and set bail at a Christmas Eve bargain of $50 cash.

We were asleep on the night before Christmas when awoken by the beeping of one of our cell phones. The young man had texted that he’d been released from jail and would be spending Christmas with his sons.

We didn’t mind being woken up—it was a terrific way to start Christmas Day.

Happy holidays, Writing PIs

The Zen Man by Colleen Collins

It’s just another ho-ho-hum lawyers’ Christmas party…until one of them is murdered.

Click on above banner to go to The Zen Man Amazon page

All rights reserved by Colleen Collins. Please do not copy/distribute any images as they are either copyrighted or licensed by the author, who does not have the legal authority to share with others.
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From Pup to Courthouse Therapy Dog, Part 1

Posted by Writing PIs on November 24, 2018

Today our Rottie pup, Traveller, graduated from her second dog-training course. Afterward the trainer, who also trains therapy dogs, said, “Traveller’s too gregarious to be a service dog, but her friendliness and smarts are perfect for a therapy dog.”

We’ve always anticipated Traveller occasionally working with us on future investigations. After talking to our trainer, we’re now considering having Traveller trained as a therapy dog, too. Not right away as she’s still a pup. The Alliance of Therapy Dogs requires a dog to be at least one year old before starting training.

Service Dogs vs. Therapy Dogs

Service dogs and therapy dogs play two different roles, which are not interchangeable.

Service Dogs

These dogs work as a team with their physically, emotionally, or mentally challenged human partners. They help their person attain safety and independence, such as alerting a hearing-challenged person that a visitor is ringing the doorbell. Service dogs are not for petting as that could prevent the dog from performing its job correctly; in fact, most service dogs have a “no petting” policy established by their owners, with the dog often wearing a label requesting people to not pet the dog.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects the rights of people with disabilities so that they can be accompanied by their service dogs in public places such as stores, hotels, and restaurants.

Therapy Dogs

These dogs are even-tempered, gentle, and amiable. Whereas service dogs work as a one-on-one team with their person/handler, therapy dogs provide psychological or physiological therapy to a variety of individuals other than their handlers. It’s all right to pet on-duty therapy dogs, even encouraged by their handlers.

People petting airport therapy dog

Therapy dogs visit places such as schools, airports, rehabilitation centers, courtrooms, and more. Their roles vary depending on people’s needs. For example, therapy dogs might participate in a person’s physical rehabilitation, offer comfort at a hospital, or help encourage a child to read out loud.

Therapy dogs do not have the legal access rights that service dogs have.

Back to our pup Traveller. What kind of therapy dog might she be? Considering we’re legal investigators, makes sense for her to become a courthouse dog.

What Is A Courthouse Dog?

These are specially trained dogs that provide emotional support to people who have suffered physical, psychological or emotional trauma as a result of criminal conduct. For example, a courthouse dog might offer comfort to a sexually abused child while he/she undergoes forensic interviews and testifying in court. These dogs will also greet jurors; offer a soothing presence for vulnerable witnesses; provide a sense of normalcy during emotionally charged court hearings; even cuddle and play with troubled teenagers waiting for hearings.

A courtroom dog might wait outside courtroom doors, ready to comfort witnesses and others (image in public domain)

Courthouse dogs truly become a member of the court as they often visit with court support staff, defense counsel, law enforcement officers and judges during the course of a work day.

Criminal justice professions—such as a deputy prosecutor, law enforcement officer, victim advocate, or as in our case, legal investigator—handle courthouse dogs.

During the Holmes theatre-shooting case here in Colorado, we would see several courthouse dogs waiting outside the courtroom to comfort witnesses, family members, and others.

Next, let’s look at the story of a courthouse dog named Rosie.

Rosie, the First Courthouse Dog in New York State

In 2011, Rosie, an 11-year-old Golden Retriever, had her first day on the job as a courthouse dog. Before a court proceeding began, Rosie met Jessica, a 15-year-old girl who would be testifying in court about being raped.

Rosie and Jessica took the stand before the trial began so the jury wouldn’t see Rosie and possibly be influenced by her presence one way or the other. Throughout her testimony, Jessica petted Rosie — at one point, Jessica removed her shoe and buried her toes in Rosie’s fur. When asked by the prosecutor to point out the man who raped her, Jessica froze. Rosie, sensing Jessica’s distress, laid her head in the girl’s lap to comfort her. After a few moments, Jessica was able to point to the man.

Jessica and Rosie had been visiting each other for three months in preparation for Jessica’s trial date. During that time, the girl and dog had become acquainted by playing together, and Rosie had also learned how to tolerate the tight space of a witness box. Her handler would have Rosie sit in front of a barrier that the handler gradually moved closer to the dog until it mimicked being in a box.

The training paid off. With Rosie’s help, Jessica remained calm during her testimony, and the jury found the defendant guilty.

Therapy Dog Training and Certifying

In the months ahead, we’ll register Traveller for a training class that is a pre-requisite to her entering a therapy dog training course. If Traveller successfully graduates from that class, we’ll next register her in a therapy-dog training program for certification. Last, she’ll work with trainers who specialize in courtroom therapy dogs. We’re waiting for our current dog trainer and her team to finalize their dog-therapy training program here in Colorado (name and links forthcoming).

Below are several AKC-recognized therapy dog organizations that offer training, certification, support, and more:

Alliance of Therapy Dogs

Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs, Inc.

Love on a Leash

Therapy Dogs International

 

When Traveller enters the next stage of training, I’ll post “From Pup to Courthouse Therapy Dog, Part 2.”

All rights reserved by Colleen Collins. Unless an image is noted as being in the public domain, do not copy or distribute images as they are copyrighted. Sections “What Is a Courthouse Dog?” and “Rosie, the First Courthouse Dog in New York State” are excerpts from A Lawyer’s Primer for Writers: From Crimes to Courtrooms co-written by Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman.

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National Cyber Security Awareness Month: A Ransomware True Story and Security Tips

Posted by Writing PIs on October 3, 2018


October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, a good time to review safety measures for protecting our online lives. Unfortunately, it’s not just businesses and online sites that are victimized by cyber-criminals, it can also happen to individuals.

Cyber-Criminals Hacked Into a Writer’s Computer

One Click Opened Her Computer to a Cyber-Criminal (image licensed by Colleen Collins)

One Click and the Cyber-Criminals Gained Control of Her Computer Hard Drive

I have a writer-friend whose computer was hacked a few years ago by cyber-criminals who blocked her access to all the files on her hard drive. A horrible situation as she was nearing the end of finishing a novel and could no longer access any of the book files.

The cyber-criminals demanded a ransom if she wanted access to her files again. Hoping her computer-tech shop could find a way to get her files back, she took in her computer for analysis. Unfortunately, they could do nothing, only verify that her hard drive had been locked by “ransomware.”

Ransom Kept Increasing

Meanwhile, every day the cyber-criminals increased the ransom. With a heavy heart, she paid the ransom, and access to her files was returned. She immediately bought a new computer, a different brand, and her tech-computer shop helped set up her files along with stronger cyber-security.

One Click and the Cyber-Hacker Was In

Cyber-criminals gained access to her computer after she clicked on a single link in an email she thought was sent by a close friend. A reminder to all of us to be cautious about opening links in an email or any other electronic communication. It’s a good idea to first verify with that person (by a phone call, etc.) that they really sent you the link.

Six Tips to Safeguard Your Computer

  1. Maintain updated computer software & apps. Setting up automatic updates is ideal because if you or your webmaster randomly log in to update software/apps, there could be bugs present prior to the update, and bugs = vulnerabilities.
  2. Download from official sites only. There’s a lot of free stuff available for download on the Internet, but you can end up downloading a lot of problems along with that freebie app, program, whatever. Therefore, download from official sites only. It’s also a good idea to be conservative in the number of downloads, too.
  3. Create unique passwords with upper & lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. I know, you’ve probably heard this password warning a gazillion times, but making passwords easy to guess, or using the same password across multiple sites, invites a cyber-criminal to pay a visit. Some people say you shouldn’t use a password manager as some are fraudulent. I don’t use a password manager, nor do I have any idea which ones might be corrupted, so I’ll leave that topic for you to further research.
  4. Cover your computer camera. Seems hackers have taken over people’s computer cameras without their knowledge (with no light indicators alerting the users, either). I can see the reasoning behind this — for example, you’re speaking to someone on your phone about a confidential business manner while you’re at your computer, that dialogue could be captured by cyber-criminals. Even if the audio isn’t captured, the computer user is so close to the camera, lip-reading could be easy. Covering the camera with a piece of tape is easy to do. Then remove the tape when you want to use the camera.
  5. Use encryption software. CNET has an Encryption page with articles about many different facets of encryption, from router settings, to how to use Skype’s end-to-end encryption feature, and more: CNET Encryption
  6. Backups. Regularly back up your files (especially those book files, writers!), and store them offline. (Thanks, @Mededitor)

Additional Resources

Stay Safe Online: Tips for keeping a clean computer, protecting your personal files and more.

Homeland Security: Events, tips and related links for National Cyber Security Awareness Month


All rights reserved by Colleen Collins. Please do not copy/distribute any images – these are licensed by the author, who does not have legal authority to share with others. 

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#BookGiveaway for Guns Gams and Gumshoes 9-Year Blogiversary

Posted by Writing PIs on August 4, 2018

Thank you, readers, for visiting us over the last 9 years! (Actually, the anniversary was June 9, but we have a new pup who keeps us on our toes, so we’re lucky if we remember which day is trash pickup day LOL!)

Traveller, Future Canine Investigator

Since we kicked off Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes in 2009, a lot has happened, from Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes being tapped twice by the American Library Association’s Booklist site as its “Web Crush of the Week” during Mystery Month, to Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine naming the site as one of the top three true crime blogs, to our writing a handful of nonfiction books about private investigations and the law.

We’ve also accrued some interest for being a husband-wife PI team: we were the cover story for Westword magazine (The Plot Thickens: In the Case of These Husband-and-Wife Private Eyes, Truth is More Fun than Fiction), and NPR broadcast an interview with us.

Blogiversary Book Giveaway

*** Contest is now closed.*** Congrats to the winners! Thank you, everyone, who entered the giveaway.

To celebrate our 9-year blogiversary, we’re giving away 9 copies of How Do Private Eyes Do That?, a nonfiction book written by Colleen Collins.

Contest Is Closed – Congrats to the Winners!

“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

  • Amazon Requirements for participation:
    • 18+ years of age (or legal age)
    • Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia

It’s an Amazon ebook, but you don’t need a Kindle to read it. Amazon provides a free, easy-to-download app that makes the book readable on a variety of platforms, from your browser to your computer (PC or MAC), even your smartphone.

Giveaway ends the earlier of Aug 10, 2018 11:59 PM PDT, or when all prizes are claimed. No purchase necessary.

Have a great weekend, Writing PIs

Posted in Canine Investigator, Defense Investigations, HOW DO PRIVATE EYES DO THAT? Second Edition Aug 2016, Nonfiction Books on Private Investigations | Tagged: , , | Comments Off on #BookGiveaway for Guns Gams and Gumshoes 9-Year Blogiversary

National and International Private Investigator Day: History of the Private Eye

Posted by Writing PIs on July 24, 2018

Eugene Francois Vidocq, recognized as the first P.I.

Eugene Francois Vidocq, b. July 24, 1775

National and International Private Investigator Day is July 24, also the birthdate of Eugene Francois Vidocq, recognized as the first private eye.

Vidocq Introduced Criminal Investigation Techniques

In 1833 Eugene Francois Vidocq, a French ex-criminal, founded one of the first private detective agencies, Le bureau des renseignments (Office of Intelligence) where he oversaw the work of other detectives, many ex-criminals such as himself.  He is credited with having introduced record-keeping, criminology, and ballistics to criminal investigation.  He also created indelible ink and unalterable bond paper with his printing company. Apparently, he had an altruistic bent as he claimed he never informed on anyone who had stolen for real need.

With Vidocq, the private investigator was born.  As the industry evolved, clients often hired PIs to act in law enforcement capacities, especially in matters for which they were not equipped or willing to do. This led to PI agencies sometimes performing like private militia and assisting companies in labor disputes.

Pinkerton National Detective Agency

Allan Pinkerton

Allan Pinkerton

Allan Pinkerton was born in Glasgow, Scotland, on August 25, 1819, and emigrated to the United States in 1842, where he founded a barrel-making shop in Dundee, forty miles outside Chicago. As an abolitionist, he set up his shop to also be a station for slaves escaping via the “underground railroad” for freedom in the northern states. After his work helping bust up a counterfeit ring, the Cook County sheriff offered Pinkerton a job as an investigator in Chicago. Within a few years, he accumulated more arrests for burglaries and murders than any of the other police officers within the department. He also gained a reputation for being fearless, having an iron-clad integrity and the ability to quickly read people.

Pinkertons’ Ops’ Ethics

In 1850, Allan Pinkerton established the Pinkerton National Detective Agency at 151 Fifth Avenue in the heart of Chicago.  In an era with many law enforcement personnel openly associating with criminals sharing their illegal profits, Pinkerton stood out by promising that his agents would not only produce results, but always act with the highest ethics.   He promised to:

  • Accept no bribes
  • Never compromise with criminals;
  • Partner with local law enforcement agencies, when necessary
  • Refuse divorce cases or cases that initiated scandals of clients
  • Turn down reward money (his agents were paid well)
  • Never raise fees without the client’s pre-knowledge, and
  • Apprise clients on an ongoing basis.

It’s remarkable how many of the above ethical standards are mirrored in many PIs’ standards today (such as regularly apprising clients, partnering with law enforcement, and raising fees only with clients’ knowledge).  It’s also amusing to read how Pinkerton’s men refused divorce cases considering today many PIs specialize in marital investigations.

A Master at Marketing

Besides being an outstanding investigator, Pinkerton was also a master promoter of his agency. He made sure news of his investigators’ successes at catching murderers and thieves became newspaper stories. He also crafted a logo, an eye surrounded with the words “We Never Sleep,” the motto of his agency, and posted it in magazines, circulars, newspapers, billboards, and even wanted posters.

In 1856, Pinkerton hired Kate Warne as his first female investigator, which was highly unusual at the time. According to the Pinkerton website, police departments did not hire women to join their ranks until 1891, nor did they get promoted to be investigators until 1903.

Kate Warne: First Female U.S. Private Eye

There is little biographical information known about Kate Warne, although some sources claim she was born in 1833 in New York, and was a widow with no children. Allan Pinkerton described her as a slender, brown-haired woman who, in 1856, responded to an ad for detectives at the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. Pinkerton presumed she was there to inquire about a clerical job. Later, he said that she demanded to be a private detective, and that he eventually hired her for that role on August 23, 1856. By 1860, Pinkerton had hired several more women to be detectives, calling them his “Female Detective Bureau” which was supervised by Warne.

Dead Ends While Researching Warne

Possible sketch of Kate Warne

Possible sketch of Kate Warne

Lynn H. Levy, owner and president of L.H. Levy Investigations, Inc., in Baltimore is currently writing a book about ten female investigators, including Kate Warne. In her research, Levy dug through 72 boxes in the Pinkerton archives at the Library of Congress, but due to a fire at the Pinkerton offices years before (likely the result of the Chicago fire in 1871), there was very little information about the agency in the 1850s.

In her further research on Kate Warne, Levy said, “I read every book published about Pinkerton, and there was enough information to get a full chapter about Kate. I found a few drawings of her and some photos that they believed were of her, but we don’t really know. She was born in New York and I’ve been trying to find out anything I can from sources there. They’re not even sure that was her last name. Up until she walked into Pinkerton’s office, there’s very little written about her.”

 Warne’s Most Famous Case

In 1861, Kate Warne helped foil an assassination attempt on President-elect Abraham Lincoln on his travels to Washington, D.C. for his inauguration. According to the Central Intelligence Agency’s article “Saving Mr. Lincoln,” Warne accompanied Pinkerton and four other operatives from his agency to Baltimore where Pinkerton had heard a plot to assassinate Lincoln would take place. According to other sources, she both helped to coordinate the operatives as well as to devise a strategy for getting Lincoln safely from Baltimore to Washington, D.C.

Warne and Pinkerton’s Relationship

Pinkerton’s brother Robert wasn’t happy with Kate Warne’s agency expenses as he believed they included funds his brother diverted for gifts and travels with Kate as his mistress. Pinkerton never confirmed such a relationship. Nor is there any documentation written by Kate, not even a letter, to offer any of her insights about her life.

In 1868, Kate fell ill, and Pinkerton stayed by her side, nursing her, until she died. Some say she suffered from pneumonia and that her death was sudden, other sources say it was a lengthy, painful illness that is unknown.

Pinkerton had her buried in his family plot at Graceland Cemetery in Chicago, with a spot reserved next to her for him when he died. In his will decades later, he dictated that Kate’s plot was never to be sold. They remain buried next to each other to this day.

Private Investigators in the 20th Century

By the 1920s, due to the expanding middle class in America, the private investigator became better known to the average citizen. Since then, the PI industry has continued to grow as it fills the needs of the public (who retain PIs to work on cases like infidelity, fraud, and criminal defense investigations). Licensing requirements, with criteria a PI must meet, have also been regulated in most states in the U.S.

Additionally, professional organizations (regional, national, and international) combined with good business practices have cast the PI career in a more respected light versus its outdated, fictional reputation as the wrinkled trench coat, fallen-from-grace Sam Spade figure found in books and film.


 

All rights reserved by Colleen Collins. Any use of the content requires specific, written authority. 

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DUI Traffic Stops: How to Conduct Yourself

Posted by Writing PIs on July 4, 2018

Over the years we’ve investigated many instances of people being arrested at DUI traffic stops or being pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving. Probably the most important piece of advice we can offer is to designate a sober driver if you’re going out to party on a holiday like the Fourth of July. The rest of this article addresses how to interact with law enforcement should you be requested to drive through a DUI checkpoint or be pulled over for other reasons.

An Easy Drive-Through Technique?

Some of you may have read about the lawyer who advertises that it’s possible to maneuver your way through a DUI traffic stop without any personal interaction with law enforcement. He endorses putting requested papers in a plastic bag and either holding them against the inside of the driver’s window (for the officer to read) or handing them out a slightly cracked window to the officer. Supposedly the officer then waves on the driver without any further conversation.

A nifty story, but not a good idea.

Be Prepared

Always keep your current vehicle registration card and insurance documentation in an easily accessible place. If you’re instructed to pull into a DUI checkpoint, be prepared to interact reasonably with law enforcement.

Pull Over to a Safe Spot

We once had a client who panicked when she saw red-and-white flashing lights in her rear-view mirror. She slowed to a stop immediately – which was problematic as she was driving in the center lane of a freeway.

If you see the swirling lights in your rear-view mirror, don’t panic. Simply pull over to a safe parking spot and turn off your engine. If it’s night-time, turn on your dome light.

Roll Your Window All The Way Down

Rolling it down a crack, or even halfway, might look suspicious. Better idea to roll it down completely, which indicates you have nothing to hide.

Put Our Your Cigarette

Better to extinguish your cigarette than to hold it in your hand as it could be viewed as a weapon.

Place Your Hands on the Steering Wheel

Place them slowly toward the top of the steering wheel (the ol’ 10-and-2-o’clock spots) where they can be clearly seen. This reassures the officer of his/her safety, and it also indicates your cooperation.

Don’t Get Chatty

Sometimes people get nervous and start talking excessively during a traffic stop. Keep in mind that anything you say can be used against you. Don’t offer information about that “one beer” you had with your pals as that gives the officer a reason to further his/her investigation. Let the officer decide whether or not to pursue an investigation based on your driving and your behavior after the stop.

We once had a case where a client began joking with the officers, as if an impromptu stand-up comedy act would endear him to the officers. He might have gotten away with that – the word “might” being debatable – if he hadn’t decided to end his joke-a-thon with a back flip (he landed on his behind). Word to the wise: don’t go “Jerry Seinfeld” or perform circus tricks, either.

Be Courteous at All Times

If pulled over, don’t do a “Jerry Seinfeld” (photo by Omer Toledano, CC-BY-2.0)

This is not the time to get defensive or confrontational, nor should anyone else in the vehicle be combative or unreasonable. Remember when Reese Witherspoon, a passenger, decided to get lippy with the police officers who’d pulled over the vehicle her husband was driving? They arrested him and her.

“Please Perform Some Roadside Tests”

The office may ask you to exit your vehicle, which is permissible. Slowly exit your car, make no sudden movements, and remain outside until the officer says you may return to your vehicle. This applies to passengers as well.

But if the officer asks you to perform physical roadside tests, such as walking a straight line, you have the right to politely decline. However most states require you to take a chemical test, and there are penalties if you do not, such as revocation of your driver’s license.

“May I Search Your Car?”

If an officer asks permission to search your vehicle, it is your right to decline the search. However, if the officer has probable cause for searching your vehicle, such as seeing an empty bottle of whiskey lying on the backseat, then he/she has the right to search your vehicle. 


All rights reserved by Colleen Collins. Any use of the textual content requires specific, written authority. Images in this article are in the public domain.

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Private Eye Writers of America: 2018 Shamus Award Nominees

Posted by Writing PIs on May 27, 2018

 

For works published in 2017. Winners will be announced at the PWA Banquet at Bouchercon. (Nominees listed below in alphabetical order by author.)

Best Original Private Eye Paperback 

Play a Cold Hand by Terence Faherty

The Strange Disappearance of a Bollywood Star by Vaseem Khan

Dames Fight Harder by M. Ruth Myers

The Painted Gun by Bradley Spinelli

Lights Out Summer by Rich Zahradnik

Best First Private Eye Novel

Under Water by Casey Barrett

A Negro and an Ofay by Danny Gardner

Gone to Dust by Matt Goldman

August Snow by Stephen Mack Jones

The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka

Best P.I. Short Story

Eric Beetner, “Out of Business,” in Down & Out, The Magazine Vol 1/ Issue 1, edited by Rick Ollerman

Reed Farrel Coleman, “Breakage,” in Down & Out, The Magazine Vol 1/ Issue 1, edited by Rick Ollerman

Brendan Dubois, “Random,” in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Jan/Feb

Robert S. Levinson, “Rosalie Marx is Missing,” in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, May/June

Paul D. Marks, “Windward,” in Coast to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Sea, edited by Andrew McAleer and Paul D. Marks

Best Private Eye Novel 

Dark Water by Parker Bilal

Blood Truth by Matt Coyle

Y is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton

The Room of White Fire by T. Jefferson Parker

Monument Road by Michael Wiley

 

2018 SHAMUS Awards Committees

Gay Toltl Kinman, Chair, Private Eye Writers of America Shamus Awards

BEST P.I. SHORT STORY COMMITTEE

Linda Sands, Chair, Julie Parkinson, Andrew Welsh-Huggins

BEST FIRST P.I. NOVEL COMMITTEE

Corey Lynn Fayman, Chair, David Housewright, Clive Rosengren

BEST P.I. NOVEL COMMITTEE

Billy Kring, Chair, Jake Needham, Christa Selnick

BEST ORIGINAL P.I. PAPERBACK COMMITTEE

Colleen Collins, Chair, Paul McGoran. April Kelly

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Safety Tips for St. Patrick’s Day

Posted by Writing PIs on March 16, 2018

happy st patricks day shamrock

St. Patrick’s Day is coming up, a day devoted to green beer and lots of partying. It’s great to get together with friends and have fun, but not so great to get arrested for breaking a law while intoxicated.

Top Three Reasons For Getting Arrested

  1. Drinking and Driving: Here’s a sobering fact: between 2009 and 2013, 276 people died on St. Patrick’s Day in the U.S. due to drunken driving accidents (information from TSM, Traffic Safety Marketing). Another sobering statistic: From 2008 through 2012, half of the men killed in crashes on St. Patrick’s Day were drinking and driving (info from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). Simple way around this: Don’t Drink and Drive. Go partying with a friend who is the designated driver or travel by taxi.
  2. Public Intoxication: Although each state has its own definition of public intoxication, below are a few shared elements of the crime:
    – Being visibly drunk or under the influence of drugs while in a public place.
    – Appearing to be intoxicated in a public place (that’s right, appearances alone can get you arrested).
  3. Urinating in Public: This includes urinating between parked cars, on walls, even lawns. If you gotta go, go before you go outside.

A Few More Safety Tips

A little common sense can ensure you and others have a safe, fun St. Patrick’s Day celebration:

  • Plan How You’re Getting Home Ahead of Time. Be it by taxi, designated driver, public transportation, or one of the numerous sober-drive-home services offered in different cities.
  • If You’re Traveling with a Designated Driver, Leave Your Car Keys at Home.
  • If You See a Drunk Driver on the Road, Call the Police. This could save many people’s lives.
  • If You See Someone Who’s Drunk Getting Ready to Drive: Gently take away their keys and help them find a safe way home. Better yet, call a taxi and pay for it upfront.

Have a great St. Patrick’s Day, Writing PIs

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International Women’s Day: Honoring Female Investigators

Posted by Writing PIs on March 8, 2018

International Women’s Day has been observed since the early 1900s. On this day, thousands of events occur around the world to celebrate women and their accomplishments.

For International Women’s Day, I’m honoring female PIs through articles written about them to radio shows hosted by them. This post isn’t meant to be all-inclusive by any means, just a cross-section of outstanding female investigators, including their fictional counterparts.

Radio Shows: New and Old

Below are two radio shows, one hosted by a contemporary female PI, the other about an old-time radio female private eye.

PI’s Declassified

California PI Francie Kohler hosts this weekly Internet radio show where she interviews private investigators and other professionals in associated fields. The show airs every Thursday at 9 a.m. Pacific Time: PI’s Declassified.

Old-Time Radio: Candy Matson Yukon 2-8209cover ebook 2000px longest side

This old-time radio show kicked off in 1949. Every show opened with a ringing telephone with a female answering, “Candy Matson, YU 2-8209,” after which the theme song “Candy” played.

According to the Internet Archive, Old Time Radio (OTR) researchers view this radio show as the best of the female private eyes. It ran until 1951. Listen to single episodes here: Candy Matson YUkon 2-8209.

Articles About Real-Life Female Private Investigators

Possible sketch of Kate Warne, the first U.S. female PI

Possible sketch of Kate Warne, the first U.S. female PI

Below is a sampling of articles written about female PIs:

The First U.S. Female Private Eye: Kate Warne (The Zen Man)

Q&A: Norma Tillman–Right and Wrong (Pursuit Magazine)

What Does It Take to Be an International Private Eye (interview with international private investigator Yin Johnson and her husband Phil, via RC Bridgestock Blog)

What Is It Like Being a Female Private Investigator? (The Zen Man)

This Private Investigator is One of the Few Jersey Women Working as Sleuths (NJ.com)

Articles About Fictional Female Private Eyes

There are many entertaining female “eyes” in literature, going back to the mid 1800s.

Dangerous Dames: A Timeline of Some of the Significant Female Eyes (The Thrilling Detective – if you haven’t checked out The Thrilling Detective, you’re missing out on one of the most comprehensive and entertaining sites about fictional private eyes on the ‘net)

Female Private Eyes in Fiction: From Lady Detectives to Hard-Boiled Dames (by Guns, Gams & Gumshoes’s Colleen for Festivale magazine)

Sara Paretsky Interview: “I start each VI Warshawski book convinced I can’t do it” (interview with Sara Paretsky in The Guardian. By the way, Paretsky does do it, and beautifully, every time she starts a new VI Warshawski novel.

Have a great week, Writing PIs

Click on cover to go to Amazon page

Click on cover to go to Amazon page

“As an experienced private detective and a skilled storyteller, Colleen Collins is the perfect person to offer a glimpse into the lives of real female P.I.s”
~ Kim Green, managing editor of Pursuit Magazine: The Magazine of Professional Investigators

 

 

 


All rights reserved by Colleen Collins. Any use of the content requires specific, written authority.

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Readers Top 10 Investigative Posts in 2017

Posted by Writing PIs on January 2, 2018

Below is a list of our readers’ favorite investigative posts in 2017. Some continue to show up year after year on our most-viewed posts, with one continuing to to be readers’ #1 favorite since we first kicked off Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes in 2009!

Top Ten Posts in 2017

Starting with #10…

#10: Can a Private Investigator Obtain a Police File?

#9: No, Stephanie Plum Isn’t a Private Eye, She’s a Bounty Hunter

#8: Top 10 Reasons Police Pull Over Vehicles

#7: Female Private Eyes Walked Those Fiction Mean Streets, Too

#6: The Witness Who Came in from the Cold

#5: When Is a Private Investigator’s Evidence Admissible in Court?

#4: Don’t Make Hiring a Private Eye One of Your New Year’s Resolutions

#3: Tips for Writers Tracking Sleuths: Tracking Missing Persons

#2: How to Conduct a Trash hit: A Private Investigator’s Dumpster Secrets

#1: Private vs. Publis Investigators: What’s the Difference? (This article continues to be readers’ favorite post since 2009)

Thank you, everyone, for visiting Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes over the years. Wishing all of you a happy, healthy, successful 2018!


All rights reserved by Colleen Collins. Any use of the content requires specific, written authority. Except for the “Happy New Year” graphic in gold letters, directly above, all other images are licensed by Colleen Collins, who does not have the legal authority to forward/share with others.

Posted in Readers Favorite Articles in 2017 | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off on Readers Top 10 Investigative Posts in 2017

 
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