Guns, Gams & Gumshoes

A defense attorney & PI who also happen to be writers

  • Writing a Sleuth?

    A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths

    "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."

    Available on Kindle

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Answering Writers’ Questions: Tips for a Private Eye Doing a Winter Surveillance

Posted by Writing PIs on January 13, 2012


Writer’s Question: My PI is doing surveillance at night, in a vehicle, in the winter (temperature about 30 degrees). My research has turned up some inventive ways for him to keep warm and to keep the windows clear of fog. I’m wondering what you might suggest in addition to appropriate clothing, warm beverages, etc. One of the simplest things I read for warmth was an electric blanket, plugged into the lighter with an AC adapter. I saw mention of heat-generating packets, too.

Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes’s Answer: Well, we watch how much we drink (whether it’s water in hot weather or warm beverages in cold weather) because it can really hinder a surveillance if you need to go to the bathroom all the time. Yes, there are “wide-mouthed cups” that PIs often take with them on surveillances, but those can be a hassle to use (for women anyway) and what if you fill your cup and need another?  Sorry to be so graphic, but it’s the reality of longer surveillances, so think about this as you write your surveillance scenes.

What else about surveillances at night during the winter? Hunters’ hand-warmers and foot-warmers are handy (and they don’t cause moisture). We’ve tried not to turn on the heater unless it’s absolutely necessary (a dead giveaway if a sitting car suddenly starts running). Some PIs use portable heaters that plug into the AC adaptor. Some cars have heated seats (a turn of the ignition, without turning the engine on, can heat the seat from 85 degrees+).

Those are a few ideas.

Writer’s Question: I was wondering about the windows fogging during winter. One article I read said a small fan unit, also plugged into the lighter, can keep windows clear. Another said a very small electric heater will also keep the windshield from frosting over.

Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes’s Answer: Those sound good. Once, early in our business, we were conducting an all-night surveillance during a chilly spell in December and Colleen decided to talk about plotting a story…Shaun asked her to stop talking because she was fogging up the windows. True story! So if you’re with a PI partner, don’t talk too much 🙂 Or maybe use something along those lines for a humorous scene.

New review of The Zen Manby Gerald So: “an homage and update of Dashiell Hammett’s Nick and Nora Charles, a well-paced mix of banter, action, and New Age philosophizing.” .99 through January 18 on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

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