Guns, Gams & Gumshoes

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

  • 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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    All rights reserved by Colleen Collins. Any use of the content on this site (including images owned by Colleen Collins) requires specific, written authority.

    It has come to our attention that people are illegally copying and using the black and white private eye at a keyboard image that is used on our site. NOTE: This image is protected by copyright, property of Colleen Collins.

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  • Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes

About Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes

The Writing PIs

Starting back around 2005, writers began contacting us with questions about sleuths, PIs, cops, and legal eagles. Fielding those questions led to our teaching online classes to writers and presenting workshops at regional and national writers’ conferences (Left Coast Crime, Mystery Writers of AmericaRomance Writers of America, Pikes Peak Writers Conference). Colleen has also written articles about private investigations for magazines, newsletters and online sites such as PI MagazinePursuit, Men’s Health, Romance Writers Report, NINK (Novelists, Inc.), Reflections in a Private Eye, and others.

Teaching courses and writing articles for writers led to our creating this Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes blog in 2009, which we’re pleased to say has been recognized by Ellery Queen magazine as one of the top 3 true-crime blogs, as well as twice being tapped by the American Library Association’s online Booklist site as being a “Web Crush of the Week” during its annual Mystery Months (2011 and 2014).

Our Books

We’ve also written several nonfiction books about private investigations (How to Write a Dick: A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths. How Do Private Eyes Do That?, and Secrets of a Real-Life Female Private Eye. Our most recent nonfiction book is A Lawyer’s Primer for Writers: From Crimes to Courtrooms.

Upcoming Releases

Look for Colleen’s nonfiction book Misdemeanors to Murder: Nothing but the Truth, to be released 2019.

20 Responses to “About Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes”

  1. Patti Abbott said

    Would either of you two care to contribute a review of a “forgotten” book to my blog project? You can see it every Friday at

    Me email is on there should you be interested. Thanks.

  2. Dan Jones said

    Great site and informative for us.

    We run an online news archive at

    We know legal investigators use our site for research, but we have not done much marketing to this group.

    When and how does a news archive help with legal investigation? What value are old news articles to building a case?



    • writingpis said

      Thanks for dropping by, Dan. To respond to your question, news archives are wonderful for such things as confirming that people lived in a certain place, that people performed a certain kind of work, relationships among people (such as wedding announcements, births, deaths), character history (for sentencing purposes in capital litigation), establishing heirs, finding contact information (let’s say a person wrote an article and their website or phone number is in the byline), establishing income and business histories, sometimes finding if someone is selling off property or other items (that is part of litigation), and more. Great question, and we hope you visit Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes again.

  3. Ann Musso said

    I’m reading “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Private Investigation” by Steve Brown and noticed you had interviewed him. I want to contact him and wanted to see if you had his email. Currently I work under my husband California PI license with him, but I want to attend school as there is so much still for me to learn and then hopefully, get my own license. There are so many “schools” out there, I was hoping for some opinions from other PI’s on what to look for in training. Your website looks great; can’t wait to read!

    • writingpis said

      You can look up Steven using Google (Steven Brown+private investigator). We would imagine your husband, being a licensed California PI, would have resources who can recommend qualified PI schools in your area. Otherwise, we suggest you check out PI Magazine or Pursuit Magazine for their recommendations.

    • Ann Musso said

      Yes, I do have recommendations from my husband, however, I find it prudent to get opinions from others in the industry.

  4. Hi, nice to meet you !

  5. Sean said

    A friend showed me the link. Great site. I’m a pulp writer who does some 30s gumshoe writing, and I’ll definitely be back. I’ll add you to my site’s links, if that’s okay with you. And feel free to visit mine as well. It’s called Bad Girls, Good Guys, and Two-Fisted Action — (Which is why my friend sent me your link, I’m sure.)

  6. Sean said

    Thanks. That’s awesome.

  7. I found your blog by accident and I am very impressed!

    I think it’s great that your both husband and wife and still able to work together. I’m not too sure if me and my wife could pull off a similar situation!

    If it’s ok with you, I would like to add your blog to our list of private investigator resources at: ?
    If your interested, we would consider exchanging links on http://blackraveninvestigations .

    Either way, you have a new reader!

  8. Becks said

    Hi! I love your blog! I have a question and I can’t find your email, so I’m asking here: could a minor hire a private detective?

  9. Jim Jack said


    We recently created an infographic which highlights the dos and don’ts of surveillance along with a lot of other great data and statistics related to private investigators. Thought I would reach out to you as it might be of interest to your readers.

    Here’s the link

    If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.


  10. I am SO HAPPY to have found this site! GREAT information. I have a question for a book-in-progress and have been scouring the internet for an answer. If someone’s dog is killed, inside their home, while they are gone, and it’s obvious that it wasn’t an accident (he was stabbed, the poor baby), does the dog’s body get removed as evidence, like a person’s? And if so, how long is the dog’s body then held? Would it be disposed of, or given back to the owner?

  11. Hi Colleen and Shaun! Great blog and I wanted you to know I am using your book, A Lawyer’s Primer for Writers: From Crimes to Courtrooms, as a resource for my first novel, Streets of Blame. I am actually serializing it on my blog, www, I have had four non-fiction books published and want to be as accurate as possible for the courtroom parts of the book, and it is an amazing resource. I am reading it on the Kindle and I love all the links to other resources! Kudos. Darin

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