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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Posts Tagged ‘articles’

When Muffy Goes for the Munch: Investigating Dog Bite Cases

Posted by Writing PIs on October 23, 2011

Typically, a PI is asked to investigate a dog-bite case through an attorney. Such investigations might involve:

  • Interviews with neighbors and other witnesses. This helps to establish the dog’s vicious temperment/propensities because in these kind of cases, the investigator is gathering proof that the owner had knowledge of the dog’s dangerous habits and traits. Also, such interviews help to establish if the dog owner has made changes to the yard or other confinement system (including warning signs) that indicate the dog has exhibited menacing tendencies.
  • Speaking to local animal control officers. This determines if the dog’s owner has been previously cited for vicious-dog or dog-at-large violations.
  • Taking photos of dog at the animal shelter (typically, dogs in dog-bite cases are seized and immediately transported to a local humane society/shelter where the dog is kept in isolation and examined by a vet). Taking photos of the dog produces effective evidence for a jury as to the size of the animal, its strength and any unusual behaviors.
  • Taking photos where the dog-bite/attack took place. Most state laws on dog bites exempt dogs acting to protect their owners’ property. So if the bite/attack took place in the street in front of the owner’s house, such photographs would be conclusive evidence to rebut a claim of property protection. The sooner a PI gets to the scene of the attack, the better (blood speaks loudly to a jury).

Another perspective on dog-bite cases is posted this week at Shaun Kaufman Law: “Dog Owners, Dog Bites, Jack Nicholson, and Aretha Franklin.”

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HOW DO PRIVATE EYES DO THAT?: New Ebook for Writers, Researchers, Investigators

Posted by Writing PIs on October 9, 2011

Writing a sleuth character? Want to know how to locate a cell phone number? Curious how a private investigator might investigate a homicide or crime scene?

How Do Private Eyes Do That? is a compilation of articles about private investigations written by Colleen Collins, a professional private investigator (and one of the Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes blog authors). Its topics are geared to readers interested in the world of PIs, including fiction writers, researchers, investigators and those simply curious about the profession.

A supplement to the book is a chapter from How to Write a Dick: A Guide to Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths, co-authored by Colleen Collins. This chapter describes numerous specializations in the field of private investigations, including legal investigations, infidelity investigations, pet detection, insurance investigations, personal injury investigations, executive protection and more.

“If you’re looking for the lowdown on private investigations, this is it. Packed with details and insights. A must-have for anybody writing private-eye fiction and for anybody who’s curious about what being a private-eye is really like.”
– Bill Crider, author of the Sheriff Dan Rhodes series and many other novels in multiple genres

“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

How Do Private Eyes Do That? on Kindle: Click here

How Do Private Eyes Do That? on Nook: Click here

Posted in Nonfiction book: HOW DO PRIVATE EYES DO THAT?, Writing About PIs | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Private Investigator Technique: Canvassing Neighborhoods

Posted by Writing PIs on October 4, 2011

What Does “Canvassing a Neighborhood” Mean?

Canvassing a neighborhood (also referred to as simply “canvassing”) means checking a neighborhood for:

  • Evidence of someone living or visiting the area (such as locating the person’s vehicle).
  • Verification from a neighbor or family member that someone lives at an address or may have recently visited there.
  • Suggestions from friends or family members as to where a person might be.

Often, a PI will be straight-up and say she’s an investigator looking for an individual (this is what Dog the Bounty Hunter does—although some people he interviews will refuse to give up information about the skip (person being located), he usually convinces others it’s in the skip’s best interest to be found, and they give him the information he needs).

On the other hand, a PI might use a pretext (a story) or another identity (for example, pretend to be an old friend) to get people to divulge information.  In our business, we once pretended to be taking a survey (we showed up at every door in the neighborhood with our clipboards and pencils).  In the course of conversations with people who answered their doors, we slipped in questions about a particular person we were skiptracing (who used to live in the neighborhood) to see what information we could mine to his current whereabouts.

A Pet Investigation: Canvassing the Local Parks

We’re not pet detectives, but once we fell into just such a case.  A client lost several (three or four) Norwegian Elkhounds and asked if we could please help.  Our first thought was to do what we often do to find people: canvas the neighborhoods.  But instead of local residential streets, we canvassed parks.  And guess what.  We found the Norwegian Elkhounds in a park that had an undeveloped wildlife section and a lake.  In this case, canvassing neighborhoods worked.

Posted in Canvassing Neighborhoods, PI Topics | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Denver’s Nick and Nora: Real-Life Private Eyes in the News

Posted by Writing PIs on September 1, 2011

You know us as the Writing PIs. In this week’s Westword, Denver’s weekly independent newspaper, we’re also “these married Denver detectives” in the paper’s cover story:

That cover is pretty cool (see above). They made it look like a beat-up dime novel with a tough, noir-ish private eye in a fedora and trenchcoat, holding a gun. The top right “page” corner is folded over, like you’re keeping your place in the paperback story. The reporter, Melanie Asmar, met with us between three and four times for interviews…toward the end she told us of her vision for the story (layering a writer’s PI story, based on one of our cases with us as the story’s protagonists, with interviews with us). She did a fantastic job.

To read about our cases, how we became PIs, and more than you probably ever wanted to know about a couple of married Denver detectives, click on the below link:

Westword: The Plot Thickens

Have a great week, Writing PIs AKA Denver’s Nick and Nora

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Motivations and Power Plays in Murder

Posted by Writing PIs on August 17, 2011

 

On Thursday, August 18, we’re guests at Handcuffed to the Ocean, a blog about “crime, mysteries and adventures on the high seas.” One of the blog authors is our friend and peer, Steven K. Brown, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Private Investigating. Steven Kerry Brown began his investigative career as a special agent for the FBI. For the past 18 years, he has successfully managed his own private investigation firm, Millennial Investigative Agency. He’s also appeared on such television programs as Hard Copy and 60 Minutes, and speaks frequently before civic and professional groups.

On our guest blog at Handcuffed to the Ocean we’ll be discussing several real-world examples of motivations for murder, along with our lessons learned as PIs. Because mystery writers sometimes use organized crime as a tool for creating compelling plots, characters and conflicts, our case examples focus on organized crime and how it employs power plays in murder.  Click below link to read the article:

Handcuffed to the Ocean: Motivations for Murder

 

Have a good week, Writing PIs

Posted in Writing About PIs | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

From Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes: Three Nonfiction Books on Private Investigations

Posted by Writing PIs on August 13, 2011

Hello readers,

Here at Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes we enjoy blogging about private investigations, many of our topics geared to writers writing sleuths/private investigators. We also walk the talk as we co-own a legal investigations firm. If in the near future one of us returns to also practicing law, we still plan for both of us to conduct investigative work, too.

How to Write a Dick

As our motto says, we also happen to be writers. A few months ago, we finally published an ebook that’s been in the works for years: How to Write a Dick: A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths. This was truly, as they say, a labor of love. We’ve enjoyed answering writers’ questions over the years, presenting workshops at writers’ conferences, writing articles about investigations and crafting plausible PI scenarios…and all that and more went into How to Write a Dick.

Currently available on Kindle and Nook.

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How Do Private Eyes Do That?

As we’ve compiled dozens of articles here at Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes, we imagined it’d be kinda cool to put “the best of Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes” into a book, too.  But we’re not going to call it “The Best of…” because maybe some of those “best” ones are still to be written. After we pondered what the title should be, we decided something straight-forward and to the point was best…something like How Do Private Eyes Do That?

How Do Private Eyes Do That? Articles on the Art of Private Investigations, available October 2011 on Kindle.

How to Be a Lawyer’s Dick

We have a third book we’re working on, geared to legal investigations which is our field of expertise. What do legal investigators do? We specialize in cases involving the courts and we’re typically employed by law firms or lawyers.  We frequently assist in preparing criminal defenses, locating witnesses, gathering and reviewing evidence, collecting information on the parties to the litigation, taking photographs, testifying in court and assembling evidence and reports for trials.

When it came to a title, How to Be a Legal Investigator was too boring, Legal Investigations 101 was too obvious. Then we decided to follow-up our first Dick book with a second one: How to Be a Lawyer’s Dick.  Definitely eye-catching.
How to Be a Lawyer’s Dick: Legal Investigations 101 will be available spring 2012 on Kindle and Nook.
Have a great weekend, Writing PIs

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A Missing Person Case That Still Haunts Us

Posted by Writing PIs on August 11, 2011

Today we’re guests at Defrosting Cold Cases, a blog that specializes in articles/discussions about unsolved homicides, missing persons, unidentified persons, forensics, wrongful convictions, prosecutorial misconduct, and books related to these subjects. If you’re a writer, bookmark this blog — you’ll learn a lot here about cold cases, forensics,  investigations and much more.

Our guest article (“My Son Is Missing”) is about a missing person case several years ago that led us to the strange, sometimes frightening, inner-circle of a cult. We were more than “PIs” on this case — as parents, we also experienced the sorrow, desperation and grief of the parents whose son we were working hard to find.

Click on the link below to read the article:

Defrosting Cold Cases: “My Son Is Missing”

Have a good week, Writing PIs

 

 

Posted in PI Topics | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Four Comprehensive Search Engines for Social Networks

Posted by Writing PIs on August 3, 2011

This article now available in How Do Private Eyes Do That? available on Kindle and Nook.


Posted in PI Topics | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

How a Private Investigator Conducts Surveillances in the Country

Posted by Writing PIs on August 2, 2011

Today we’re guests at Terry’s Place, writer Terry Odell’s blog, where she’s posted our article “Writing Rural Surveillances.”  Writing a sleuth who needs to conduct a stakeout in the country?  Curious how a private investigator might prepare for such a surveillance? Drop by and check out the article.  We’re also giving away a Kindle version of How to Write a Dick: A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths.”  If you don’t have a Kindle, no problem.  You can download a free Kindle app for your PC or Mac.

Terry’s Place “Writing Rural Surveillances”

 

Have a great week, Writing PIs

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The Cold Case Squad Blog: A Homicide Investigators’ Portal

Posted by Writing PIs on July 21, 2011

We’ve recently gotten to know Joseph Giacalone, veteran NYPD detective sergeant and commanding officer of their Cold Case Squad, which has investigated hundreds of homicides, cold cases and missing persons. Joe is also the author of the Criminal Investigative Function: A Guide for New Investigators published by Looseleaf Law Publications, Inc.

Whether you’re a writer, researcher, investigator or simply curious about cold cases and how they’re investigated and solved, this blog is for you.  The blog also promotes public awareness about the missing, investigative tips, and guests posts such as “The Art of Lying” by a lawyer with expertise in criminology.

Today, the Cold Case Squad hosts a guest post by the Writing PIs, your hosts at Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes, where we write about a cold case that took us to the vast, cold high plains during winter to find what others hadn’t been able to find: 4 slugs on 800 acres of ranch land. The placement of those slugs could prove that a man was innocent…

Check out our guest post “Cold Case: Bullets in the Field” by clicking here.

Have a great week, Writing PIs

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