Guns, Gams & Gumshoes

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

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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.

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2018 Shamus Awards: Submissions Now Open

Posted by Writing PIs on December 29, 2017

Private Eye Writers of America
2018 Shamus Awards

For Works First Published in the U.S. in 2017

  

Following are the categories for the Private Eye Writers of America 2018 Shamus Awards for private eye novels and short stories first published in the United States in 2017. The awards will be presented in the fall of 2018.

DEADLINE: Submissions must be postmarked by March 31, 2018. No extensions can be given.

Shamus Committees will forward their final list to the Shamus Awards Chair by May 31, 2018.

ELIGIBILITY: Eligible works must feature as a main character a person paid for investigative work but not employed for that work by a unit of government.  Eligible works include traditionally licensed private investigators; lawyers and reporters who do their own investigations; and others who function as hired private agents. These do not include law enforcement officers; other government employees; or amateur, uncompensated sleuths (such as in cozy mysteries).

Independently published books (Indies, print format) may be submitted to the Best Original Paperback PI Novel category.

SUBMISSIONS; Please send one copy of each eligible work to all members of the appropriate committee. Do not submit a book to more than one committee.

There is no application fee and no submission form, as a simple cover letter will suffice. For committee names and addresses, or other questions, please e-mail Gay Toltl Kinman at gaykinman@gaykinman.com before submitting.

BEST HARDCOVER PI NOVEL: A book-length work of fiction published in hardcover in 2017 that is NOT the author’s first published P.I. novel.

BEST FIRST PI NOVEL: A book-length work of fiction, in hardcover or paperback, first published in 2017 that is the author’s first published novel featuring a private investigator as a main character.

BEST ORIGINAL PAPERBACK PI NOVEL: A book-length work of fiction first published as a paperback original in 2017 that is NOT the author’s first P.I. novel. Paperback reprints of previously published novels are NOT eligible.

BEST PI SHORT STORY: A work of fiction of 20,000 words or fewer.  Stories first published in an earlier year and reprinted in a magazine, anthology or collection in 2017 are NOT eligible.

 

 


Please do not copy/distribute any images as they are licensed by Colleen Collins, who does not have the legal authority to forward to others.

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Five Holiday Safety Tips

Posted by Writing PIs on December 3, 2017

As the holidays approach, our work load invariably picks up as more criminal cases come into the office. Sometimes on a festive evening, such as New Year’s Eve, we’ll look at each other and say, “Wonder what’s happening tonight that brings in work over the next few weeks or months?” Notice we don’t say “Wonder if something will happen…”

Five Safety Tips

Below are a few safety tips to keep you and yours from hiring attorneys or private investigators over the next few weeks.

Tip #1: When you go shopping, lock your car. It sounds so simple, yet you’d be surprised at the number of people who forget to do this. People get preoccupied with shopping, holiday parties, who’s picking up Great-Aunt Sarah on Christmas Eve…and they forget to lock their car doors. That makes easy pickings for thieves looking through car windows—if they see a package, it can be theirs within seconds. Several years ago, Sergeant Foley of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department claimed that nearly 50 percent of the car break-ins in his area were due to cars being left unlocked.

Tip #2: Park in well-lighted areas. Don’t tempt a thief by parking where there’s little or no lighting.

An unlocked door is an invitation to a criminal

Unlocked Doors Are Open Invitations to Criminals

Tip #3: Avoid parking on side streets. Vehicles parked on secluded side streets are easy prey for thieves. Also, with increased holiday traffic, and drivers preoccupied with cell phone conversations, passengers, or even eating while driving, your vehicle might be the victim of a hit-and-run.

Tip #4: Drink responsibly.

You Don't Want to Wear One of these Bracelets This Holiday

You Don’t Want to Wear One of These Bracelets This Holidays

Yeah, this sounds like one of those ads, but it is smart advice. Many of our criminal investigation cases involve people drinking too much and doing something stupid that they regret for years to come.

Watch the other guy, too —is someone getting blitzed and out of control at a party? Be proactive and make sure he/she has a sober driver to take them home. Or call a taxi and pay the driver upfront for the person’s ride home, which might be the best holiday gift they get. Also if a party is getting out of control, it’s a good time to leave.

Tip #5: Be aware. Perhaps the best advice is to be aware and use common sense.  Don’t carry so many packages to your vehicle that you can’t quickly reach your cell phone or car keys. Shop in groups rather than alone. If you have a choice to shop during the day or at night, pick daylight hours. Don’t leave items visible in your car that might tempt a thief. Have fun at parties, but drink responsibly and avoid those who aren’t.

Wishing you a happy, healthy, and safe holiday season!

(Click on banner, below, to go to Amazon page)

A heartfelt, humorous, romantic-mystery story about a down-on-her-luck lawyer, a special agent visited by the past, and an arson dog named Maggie who join forces to rescue the holiday spirit!

“Mistletoe and Murder in Las Vegas” is Colleen Collins at her best. It’s got the charm and humor of the best romantic comedies combined with a genuinely good mystery–an unbeatable combination. I couldn’t put the book down once I started it.” ~Nancy Warren, USA Today Bestselling Author

wreath line

All rights reserved by Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman. Do not copy/distribute any content without written permission from the authors. 

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Female Private Eyes Walked Those Fiction Mean Streets, Too

Posted by Writing PIs on November 11, 2017

woman looking thru mag glass black and white2

When a friend recently commented about the lack of female private eyes in hardboiled fiction, I pointed him to a post I’d written a few years ago in response to an article in the NYT. Female private eyes in literature go back further in time than those in the hard-boiled genre, however. Many view Mrs. Paschal as the first female private detective in literature. In 1864, Mrs. Paschal appeared in The Revelations of a Lady Detective, written by W. S. Hayward, a British male writer. Although Mrs. Paschal occasionally worked with the police force, she also conducted private investigations for payment.

But back to hard-boiled detective fiction—below is my 2014 post about lady dicks who also roamed those mean streets…

The Death of the Private Eye?

It was surprising to read the November 14, 2014 article “The Death of the Private Eye” by John Semley in the New York Times and see references to only men being shamuses in hardboiled fiction.

There Were Lady Dicks, Too

The hardboiled private dicks in pulp fiction’s hard-hitting, heart-pumping stories included numerous female characters as the main protagonists, although you’d never know it from Semley’s text:

“The hard-boiled gumshoes were men…”

“If the private dick has all but disappeared, something of his DNA is woven into the biology of the authority-bucking hackers…”

“This is the real essence of the P.I….despite his venality…”

Miss Marple: An Amateur Sleuth

Semley does, however, give a passing nod to Miss Marple (“the old-school gumshoe feels as irrelevant as Sherlock Holmes and Miss Marple felt a generation before”) except that Miss Marple was an amateur sleuth, not a professional private investigator (definition from Private Eye Writers of America: A private investigator is a private citizen [not a member of the military, federal agency, or civic or state police force] who is paid to investigate crimes).

Tip of the Fedora to Hard-Boiled Female PIsSecret Agent

Let’s look at a few female private eye characters who made their appearances during the hard-boiled era:

Grace “Redsie” Culver, an operative for the Noonan Detective Agency, starred in 20 stories in The Shadow Magazine from 1934-1937.

Carrie Cashin, owner of the Cash and Carry Detective Agency in Manhattan, first hit the fiction scene in 1937 and went on to star in 38 stories.

Dol Bonner started walking the mean streets in The Hand in the Glove (1937) by Rex Stout, who later included Bonner as a supporting character in several novels featuring Nero Wolfe.

The Death of the Private Eye Genre?

This is the real point of Semley’s article, and it’s a valid one. Yes, technological tools, available to just about anyone, have cast a cold shadow on many of the private investigator’s tricks of the trade. My husband and I have an entire room filled with cameras and other equipment that are hopelessly outdated. A lot of the smartphone apps I use for investigations any kid can buy.

Walking the Mean Streets: Still in Vogue

But not all investigations are about being technically hip. When a law firm hired us to find the names of people who had worked on a building nearly 50 years ago, there were no databases, even proprietary ones, that contained a shred of evidence to these people’s identities, so we sleuthed the old-fashioned way: On foot. Talked to people, reviewed old reverse phone directories, ended up digging through dusty boxes in a storage facility (where we finally found the people’s names).

We know a homicide detective who resorts to some old-fashioned tricks when he wants to get people to answer the door: He finds their electrical box and turns off the power. Within seconds, they’ve opened their door and he’s there with a few questions he’d like them to answer.

An Anonymous Witness

When a defense lawyer hired us to find three gang members who had tried to kill his client (a member of another gang), we headed to the defendant’s neighborhood and knocked on doors. Nobody wanted to talk to us, mostly because they were frightened of gang retaliation. Later we returned to the neighborhood with signs that we posted on trees, bus benches, a fence at a park. A few days later, we received a phone call from a public coffeehouse by a woman who didn’t want to give her name or email address as she didn’t want her identity to be traced electronically. She was willing to meet us at the park where the crime had occurred at a certain date to talk with us, for fifteen minutes only. She purposefully chose the time when the crime had occurred (late in the evening).

We showed up at the park at the designated time. A woman in her late fifties emerged from the shadows of a group of trees and walked toward us. She spoke quietly, pointing out the crime scene, and where she’d witnessed the defendant fighting for his life against three young men, all of which matched exactly what the defendant had described. She refused to give us her name, and to be on the safe side she hadn’t driven to the park in her car (she’d walked). Her information cracked the case.

Semley claims that “All P.I. stories are now period pieces.” Hmm…maybe that’s even more of a cliche than thinking only tough, wisecracking guys were gumshoes.

fedora black and white

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

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What Is Expectation of Privacy?

Posted by Writing PIs on November 1, 2017

woman peeking thru blinds licensed by C Collins

In a nutshell, expectation of privacy is a zone of protection created by constitutional law against unreasonable searches and seizures.

How Does Expectation of Privacy Affect You?

Most people don’t value their expectation of privacy until a government agent (such as police or health inspectors) intrude onto their property without authorization. Another area in which people don’t always value their expectation of privacy is in their personal computers. The founding fathers wanted people to be secure in their “homes and papers,” but no one has ever doubted that the Fourth Amendment expectation of privacy also applies to individuals’ personal computers and other electronic devices.

PIs and Expectation of Privacy

Below are a few slides from a presentation we gave at a Pikes Peak Writers conference on this topic. The audience wanted an example of how their private eye character might be affected by an expectation of privacy issue in the course of an investigation.

Expectation of Privacy slide 2

Expectation of Privacy slide 3

Have a great November, everyone! Writing PIs

All rights reserved by Colleen Collins. Please do not copy, distribute, or otherwise use any of this article without written permission from the author.

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Top 10 Reasons Police Pull Over Vehicles

Posted by Writing PIs on October 27, 2017

Don’t Be a Cop Magnet

It’s fairly easy to get pulled over while you’re driving. Below is a list of reasons, compiled from our years conducting investigations on behalf of defense lawyers, discussions with police officers and agencies, and sources such as The National Motorists Association.

  • Driving significantly faster (or slower) than the traffic around you.
  • Out-of-date license tags and inspection stickers.
  • Speeding at night, especially after midnight.
  • Speeding in a radar-enforced area.
  • Weaving from your lane into another.
  • Failing to use your turn signal.
  • Faulty equipment, such as brake lights, tail lights, license plate lights.
  • In some states, both the front and back license plates must be affixed (this holds true in Colorado)
  • Dark window tints, jacked-up suspension system.
  • Illegal cell phone use (more than 30 states have banned texting while driving).

You’ve Done Nothing Wrong, But You Can Still Be Pulled Over

While the Fourth Amendment usually protects against unlawful searches, certain exceptions have been made out of concern for public safety, such as:

Amber Alert: Law enforcement has the right to pull you over and search your car for a missing child during an Amber Alert, which law enforcement issues when they determine that a child has been abducted, and the abduction meets Amber Alert criteria.

Mistaken Identity: If a car just involved in a hit-and-run meets your car description, the police can stop you to examine your vehicle for damage consistent with involvement in a hit-and-run.

Keep in mind that even if you’re pulled over for a minor traffic issue, the stop can result in a driving under the influence (DUI) arrest if your actions make the officer suspect that you’re driving:

  • While intoxicated
  • Under the influence of or possession of controlled substances.

Keep the above indicators in mind—by being proactive, you can help prevent being pulled over.

All rights reserved by Colleen Collins. Please do not copy, distribute, or otherwise use any of this article without written permission from the author.

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Tips for Your Safeguarding Your Halloween Haunted House

Posted by Writing PIs on October 25, 2017

It’s that time of year when people stretch cobwebs on porches, prop plastic gravestones in front yards, string flashing lights everywhere, and my favorite—arrange mechanized life-sized creeping zombies that crawl and moan. These decorations mean it’s also the time of year to ensure safe conditions around your spook house.

Five Safety Tips

  1. Keep walkways dry and clear from anything that might trip your visitors. This includes cords and crawling zombies.
  2. haunted house2

    If the area outside the house is dark, trick-or-treaters might stumble and fall.

    Maintain good lighting for your candy-hunting guests in areas where they walk up to your doorway. Keep in mind that many children are wearing masks that can block their vision, and that children might be running as they approach your front door. Dark-tinted lights and flashing strobes are a recipe for trouble, even if they look fantastic. One idea: Try the “Christmas light style” jack-o-lantern lights on your banisters and stairways to highlight handrails.

  3. Use extension cords for electrical items in the yard that are rated for outdoor use to avoid electrical shorts and fires.
  4. Secure yard decorations (wooden signs and faux grave markers) from the bold fall wind.
  5. Direct traffic at your doorway. Limit the number of trick or treaters coming up to the door to prevent chaos and possible injuries when departing ghouls bump into arriving ghosts. You might try being on the porch during the busiest hours to hand-out candy.

Enjoy a safe, fun Halloween!

All rights reserved by Colleen Collins. Please do not copy, distribute, or otherwise use any of this article without written permission from the author.

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