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

  • Copyright Notices

    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.

  • Writing PIs on Twitter

  • Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes

Archive for the ‘PI Topics’ Category

Summer Surveillances: Avoiding Heat Exhaustion

Posted by Writing PIs on July 13, 2019

Scientists think summers could be hotter than in the previous 50 years (image in public domain)

Updated July 13, 2019: This article was originally written eight years ago after I experienced heat exhaustion while conducting a series of daytime surveillances. At that time, both my PI partner and myself had conducted dozens of surveillances, many during the summer months. Both of us knew what safeguards to take, but nevertheless the heat took its toll.

As summers across the globe could be increasingly hotter than any we’ve experienced within the last 50 years (based on a recent study by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research state  that), it’s imperative to take adequate precautions when working outdoors.

What Is Heat Exhaustion?

From Mayo Clinic: Heat exhaustion is a condition whose symptoms may include heavy sweating and a rapid pulse, a result of your body overheating. It’s one of three heat-related syndromes, with heat cramps being the mildest and heatstroke being the most severe.

Signs and Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion may develop suddenly or gradually over time (mine was the latter). Possible signs and symptoms:

  • Cool, moist skin
  • Goose bumps, despite the heat
  • Profuse sweating
  • Lightheaded or dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Weak, rapid pulse
  • Low blood pressure upon standing
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea
  • Headache

That summer, I re-learned some powerful lessons about conducting summertime surveillances, starting with the most important one:

Lesson #1: Respect the heat! I thought I’d taken adequate precautions (parking in shady spots; taking breaks in an air-conditioned building; staying hydrated, etc.), yet I still succumbed to heat exhaustion, likely due to the repeated days of high temperatures.

A few ideas for staying cool:

  • Bring ice packs along on the surveillance

    When possible, select cool, shady areas for surveillances

  • Pick shady spots to park in
  • Ensure there’s adequate ventilation in the vehicle. If appropriate, run air conditioning (there’s also portable units investigators can purchase that help keep the inside of a vehicle cool)
  • When feasible, take breaks in air-conditioned buildings
  • Wear a rimmed hat and sunglasses
  • Stay hydrated by drinking water, Gatorade or fruit juices (not sodas or coffee!)
  • Wear loose-fitting and cool clothes.

Lesson #2: Mine your client for details. It’s funny how many people have called and asked us to follow someone without any suggestions or knowledge about the subject’s schedule or habits. Maybe in the movies a PI can jump into a car and follow someone for hours with zero idea where that person typically goes that time of day, or is scheduled to go on a particular day, but that’s a road to failure in real-life surveillances.

It aids the surveillance significantly to have an idea where the person might be traveling, or if they have a scheduled appointment (hair dresser, exercise club, therapist) for a certain day and time. How does a PI find this information? Interview the client, ask about the subject’s habits, schedules, work routines, and so forth. Sometimes we’ve worked on an “on-call” basis with a client (he/she calls us when they have information where a subject will be that day—of course, this doesn’t mean we’re always available at that particular time, which is an agreed-upon understanding of the “on-call” approach).

Lesson #3: Stay in close touch with your PI partner. We’ve conducted multiple two-car mobile surveillances during summer, and understand the value of staying in constant touch. For example, before we drive through traffic to follow a vehicle, we’ll call each other on our cells, then leave that line of communication open as we drive (we put our phones on speaker, set them on the console, and talk to each other as we drive). This way, we can immediately inform each other if the car is turning, if we’re playing “leap frog” with the vehicle, and so forth.

Note: In our state, any driver under 18 years of age is prohibited from using a cell phone while driving. The prohibition includes phone calls, text messaging, or similar forms of manual data entry and transmission. Adult drivers are prohibited from using a cell phone to text message, or send similar forms of transmission, while behind the wheel. Regular cell phone use for voice calls is permitted. Drivers of any age may use a wireless device in the case of an emergency.

Tips From Other Investigators

We’ve heard other investigators talk about their vehicle having tinted windows, installing a roof vent in the vehicle, wearing canvas shoes, if possible working at night vs. the day, one said her best way to stay cool was wrapping a bandana filled with ice wrapped around her neck.

All rights reserved by Colleen Collins. Do not copy, distribute, or otherwise use any of this material without written permission from the author. Unless an image is noted as being in the public domain, do not copy or use any graphics/photos.

Posted in Real-Life Private Investigator Stories, Surveillances | Tagged: , | Comments Off on Summer Surveillances: Avoiding Heat Exhaustion

Private Eye Writers of America Announces 2019 Shamus Award Nominees

Posted by Writing PIs on June 6, 2019

Below are the nominees for works published in 2018 featuring a private eye protagonist. Listing is in alphabetical order by author with publisher’s name in parentheses. Winners will be announced at the PWA Banquet at Bouchercon, October 2019. Congratulations to all the nominees!

Best Original Private Eye Paperback

She Talks to Angels by James D. F. Hannah (Hannah)

No Quarter by John Jantunen (ECW Press)

Shark Bait by Paul Kemprecos (Suspense Publishing)     

Second Story Man by Charles Salzberg (Down & Out Books)

The Questionable Behavior of Dahlia Moss by Max Wirestone (Redhook Books)

 

Best First Private Eye Novel

The Best Bad Things by Katrina Carrasco (MCD Farrar, Straus, Giroux)

Broken Places by Tracy Clark (Kensington)

Last Looks by Howard Michael Gould (Dutton)

What Doesn’t Kill You by Aimee Hix (Midnight Ink)

Only to Sleep by Lawrence Osborne (Hogarth)

 

Best Private Eye Short Story

“Fear of the Secular,” by Mitch Alderman (AHMM)

“Three-Star Sushi,” by Barry Lancet (Down & Out)

“The Big Creep,” by Elizabeth McKenzie (Santa Cruz Noir)

“Game,” by Twist Phelan (EQMM)

“Chin Yong-Yun Helps a Fool,” by S.J. Rozan (EQMM)

 

 Best Private Eye Novel

Wrong Light by Matt Coyle (Oceanview Publishing)

What You Want to See by Kristen Lepionka (Minotaur Books)

The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey (Soho Crime)

Baby’s First Felony by John Straley (Soho Crime)

Cut You Down by Sam Wiebe (Quercus)

 

2019 Private Eye Writers of America Shamus Awards Committees

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

BEST ORIGINAL PRIVATE EYE PAPERBACK COMMITTEE

Brad Parks, Chair, Michael Wiley, Beth Terrell

BEST FIRST PRIVATE EYE NOVEL COMMITTEE

Colleen Collins, Chair, Dennis Palumbo, Cheryl Head

BEST PRIVATE EYE SHORT STORY COMMITTEE

Terence P. Faherty, Chair, John Hoda, Ken Wishnia

BEST PRIVATE EYE NOVEL COMMITTEE

Thomas Donahue, Chair, Tracy Clark, John Shepphird

Posted in PI Topics | Comments Off on Private Eye Writers of America Announces 2019 Shamus Award Nominees

Courtroom Couture: The Not Guilty Look

Posted by Writing PIs on April 27, 2019

I Look So Pure, I Couldn’t Possibly Have Done Those Bad Things

An article in today’s New York Times (Does This Dress Make Me Look Guilty?) reads like a courtroom catwalk, complete with pictures of famous people dressed to kill, so to speak, their alleged bad deeds in the minds of jurors and judges. Such as Anna Sorokin, the fake heiress, who bilked people, even a bank!, out of thousands of dollars. According to the article, a secret benefactor hired a professional stylist to dress Ms. Sorokin in clothes such as white, frothy baby doll dresses to give her the aura of purity and innocence. Add simple hairstyles, large “who me?” eyeglasses, and a knock-kneed stance for a touch of vulnerability, surely the jurors would be blinded by her innocence.

Didn’t work. The jury found her guilty of second-degree grand larceny, theft of services, and one count of attempted grand larceny. Perhaps she knew what was coming because she wore black on the last day of court.

Dress Codes Apply to Witnesses and Parties, Too

Famous defense lawyer Gerry Spence once represented a Wyoming beauty queen who was suing the publisher of Penthouse magazine, Bob Guccione, for defamation. Spence said he knew he had the upper hand when Guccione showed up to court in a flashy velour suit with his shirt unbuttoned to display heavy gold chains.

Court is not the place to flash jewelry and designer outfits — it’s a forum of respect and seriousness where persons appointed as magistrates or judges officiate in the administration of justice.

Bottom Line: Keep It Simple

Before we go to court, we advise clients on how to dress to impress, the low-key way. Keep it simple, conservative. Think “business casual.” More tips:

  • Dress as you would for church/place of worship.
  • Dress to cover tattoos and too much skin (women, keep skirts and dress lengths to just above the knee or longer, and no low-cut tops).
  • Keep nails short and polished in light color or clear.

Avoid the color red and don’t wear sunglasses (looks as if you’re hiding something)

  • Take out any piercings (earrings are fine, again keep it simple).
  • Plain colors or light patterns on clothes: no logos, brands, flashy statements.
  • Women: simple hairstyles, if hair is longer, pull it back with a clip or in a simple bun. Men: neatly cut, short hair.
  • Sensible shoes. No open toes.
  • Women: Keep make-up to a minimum.

Choose Suitable Colors

Wearing the right colors helps a person look healthier, younger, and refreshed. Here’s a few color suggestions:

Charcoal, Navy and Blue

In general, these are the best colors to wear to court. They’re not as severe as black, and for men, they complement many colors of shirts and ties. The other half of Writing PIs once attended a trial college where an instructor claimed that blue was the best color to wear to court because blue connoted “the truth.”

Never Wear Brown

That same trial college instructor lectured that one should never wear brown to court because used-car salesman wear brown suits, so wearing a brown connotes the image of a tire-kicking shyster. Lighter shades of brown, however, such as beige, work well, as do lighter shades of pastels.

Avoid Bright Colors

Bright colored clothes can be a distraction, or worse, a joke. We once observed a witness take the stand in a crayon-orange muscle shirt that displayed his bulging biceps and tattoos. You could see the looks of “What the?” on some of the jurors’ faces.

Links of Interest

Cardi B’s Courtroom Catwalk Continues (The Cut)

Dressing your client for success at deposition and trial (Plaintiff)

No defense for some courtroom attire (Chicago Tribune)

All Rights Reserved, Colleen Collins. Do not copy or distribute any content without written approval of the author. Images in this article are licensed by the author, who does not have the legal authority to share with others.

Posted in Real-Life Private Investigator Stories | Tagged: , | Comments Off on Courtroom Couture: The Not Guilty Look

Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes: Top 10 Posts in 2018

Posted by Writing PIs on December 28, 2018

As we wrap up 2018, below are our readers’ 10 favorite posts this year. Thank you to everyone who’s dropped by this year as well as preceding years—next year will mark Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes’ ten-year anniversary!

Ranking is #1 through #10, with #1 having the most reader views in 2018:

#10 Private Investigators and Murder Cases This was a 2012 guest post by Colleen Collins at crime fiction book reviewer Elizabeth A. White’s blog (renamed Editing by Elizabeth as she now specializes as a story editor).

#9 Investigating Crime Scenes: Police vs. Private Investigators This 2015 post discusses different facets of crime scene investigations, from deception to subjects to cold vs. live crime scenes.

Copyright Lisa Cejka 2018

#8 Female Private Eyes Walked These Mean Streets, Too Some people, including John Semley, who wrote the article “The Death of the Private Eye for the New York Times, seem to think only men have been shamuses in fiction. No, women were dicks, too, going back to 1864 with Mrs. Paschal, commonly viewed as the first female private detective in literature.

#7 National and International Private Investigator Day: History of the Private Eye History of the PI, from Eugene Francois Vidocq, recognized as the first private eye in 1833, to current-day private detectives.

#6 National Cyber Security Awareness Month: A Ransomware True Story and Security Tips A true story about cyber-criminals who hacked into, and took over, a writer’s computer, as well as tips and related articles on cyber security.

#5 Answering a Writer’s Question: Can a Private Investigator Get Romantically Involved with a Client? Seems Sam Spade got amorous with most of the femme fatales who crossed his path. Although there aren’t always legal restrictions, there are often ethical ones to consider in the real world of PIs.

#4: A Tribute to James Garner’s Iconic Private Eye Jim Rockford I originally wrote this post in 2014 after hearing of James Garner’s passing, then updated it the following year. Who didn’t love the cool, droll, anti-hero Jim Rockford, a PI who’d rather go fishing then be sleuthing cases.

James Garner as PI Rockford (R) in photo still from THE ROCKFORD FILES (image is in public domain)

#3: How to Conduct a Trash Hit: A Private Investigator’s Dumpster Secrets: This has been one of our readers’ favorite posts over the years. At our PI agency, we’ve conducted dozens of trash hits. Foraging through trash is like an archeological dig—ya get down and dirty, but what’s uncovered can break a case clean open.

#2 Private vs. Public Investigators: What’s the Difference? Ever since we kicked off Guns, Gams,and Gumshoes in 2009, this post has been readers’ #1, most-read post, every single year…until this year when it got bumped to #2 for…

#1: From Pup to Courthouse Therapy Dog, Part 1 Readers’ favorite post this year was based on our Rottweiler pup, Traveller, who’s on a journey (along with her owners) to one day being a courtroom therapy dog. Article discusses differences between service dogs and therapy dogs; the training and work of a courtroom therapy dog; the story of Rosie, the first courthouse therapy dog in New York; and related links to therapy dog training and certification.

Thank you, readers, for being part of Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes. Here’s to a healthy, happy 2019 for all of us!

All rights reserved by Colleen Collins. Do not copy or distribute any content without written permission of the author. Images in the public domain are captioned as such; all other images are either copyrighted or licensed by the author, who does not have the legal authority to share with others.

 

Posted in PI Topics | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off on Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes: Top 10 Posts in 2018

Shamus Awards 2019: Private Eye Writers of America Accepting Submissions

Posted by Writing PIs on December 12, 2018

PRIVATE EYE WRITERS OF AMERICA ACCEPTING SUBMISSIONS

FOR 2019 SHAMUS AWARDS

For Works First Published in the U.S. in 2018

Following are the categories for the Private Eye Writers of America 2019 Shamus Awards for private eye novels and short stories first published in the United States in 2018. The awards will be presented in the fall of 2019.

DEADLINE: Submissions must be postmarked by March 31, 2019. No extensions can be given.

Shamus Committees will forward their final lists to the Shamus Awards Chair by May 31, 2019.

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. These 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 (for example, protagonists in cozy mysteries).

Independently published books (Indies) 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 judging committee addresses and questions, please e-mail PWA judging chair Gay Toltl Kinman at gaykinman@gaykinman.com. If you’re unsure which category to submit your work, email Gay Tolti Kinman before submitting.

BEST HARDCOVER PI NOVEL: A book-length work of fiction published in hardcover in 2018 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 2018 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 2018 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 2018, are not eligible.

2019 SHAMUS Awards Committees

BEST P.I. SHORT STORY COMMITTEE

Terence Faherty, Chair

BEST FIRST P.I. NOVEL COMMITTEE

Colleen Collins, Chair

BEST P.I. NOVEL COMMITTEE

Thomas Donahue, Chair

BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL P.I. NOVEL

Brad Parks, Chair

Please do not copy or otherwise distribute any images in this posting as the author does not have legal authority to share these images with others.

Posted in PI Topics | Comments Off on Shamus Awards 2019: Private Eye Writers of America Accepting Submissions

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.

Posted in Perspectives from a Criminal Defense Attorney, Real-Life Private Investigator Stories | Tagged: , , | Comments Off on Two Memorable Christmas Cases, Funny to Heartfelt

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.

Current-Day Private Investigators

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. 

Posted in History of the PI, Real-Life Private Investigator Stories | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off on National and International Private Investigator Day: History of the Private Eye

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

Posted in PI Topics, Tips for Avoiding Arrest on St Patrick's Day | Tagged: | Comments Off on Safety Tips for St. Patrick’s Day

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.

Posted in Private Eyes in the News, Real-Life Private Investigator Stories, Secrets of a Real-Life Female Female Private Eye | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off on International Women’s Day: Honoring Female Investigators

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. 

Posted in Holiday Safety Tips | Tagged: , , , | Comments Off on Five Holiday Safety Tips

 
%d bloggers like this: