Guns, Gams & Gumshoes

A defense attorney & PI who also happen to be writers

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Posts Tagged ‘private investigator’

Five Holiday Safety Tips

Posted by Writing PIs on December 4, 2016

Holiday Safety Tips (Image Licensed by Colleen Collins)

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 (Image Licensed by Colleen Collins)

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 Holiday (Image Licensed by Colleen Collins)

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!

One-Day Sale! Mistletoe & Murder in Las Vegas is FREE on Monday, Dec 5, 2016!
2016 I Heart Indie Finalist

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

Click on image 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

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All rights reserved by Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman. Please do not copy/distribute any images noted as copyrighted or licensed. Images noted as in the public domain are copyright-free and yours to steal.

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When Is a Private Investigator’s Evidence Admissible in Court?

Posted by Writing PIs on August 9, 2014

 

gavel and scales

 

WRITER’S QUESTION: While a PI is conducting an investigation (looking for a skip or doing surveillance) and he/she learns, overhears, or discovers evidence that may help the prosecutor (or defense) in a trial, is it admissible? For example, if cops search without a search warrant, except under well-defined circumstances anything they find is not admissible.  What might be some examples of information a PI might learn that would or could be used in a trial?

GUNS, GAMS, AND GUMSHOES’ ANSWER:  As private citizens, PIs are not limited by the Fourth Amendment because it applies to governmental action, meaning that private investigators are not governmental agents and are therefore not restricted by the Fourth Amendment. Police officers, parole officers, district attorney investigators, or anyone working in publicly compensated law enforcement (crime scene technicians, coroners, deputy sheriffs, etc.) are bound by the Fourth Amendment.

Therefore, anything a private investigator sees/documents is admissible evidence in court. However, PIs are not obligated by law (as law enforcement is obligated by law) to reveal their observations or seizures to the other side. For example, in one of our cases, we were lawfully in our client’s estranged wife’s residence when we documented extensive drug use and manufacture. We photographed the scene and our client’s attorney used these photographs to obtain sole custody for our client’s son. What if the estranged wife’s attorney had caught wind of this evidence and subpoenaed us to turn over this documentation? We would have used the work-product doctrine (which has nothing to do with Fourth Amendment protection and has everything to do with attorney-client privileges) to bar the revelation of the documents and our testimony. However, this is an empty hypothetical because the other side had no interest in seeing damning evidence.

When people speak in a public place, anything they say or are observed doing is admissible in court.

Eavesdropping, on the other hand, is listening in (or documenting) private conversations/actions, and those are not admissible in court. For example, if someone has a “legitimate expectation of privacy in the communication” (for example, they’re in their living room having a conversation in a hushed tone of voice), it would be eavesdropping to use a parabolic microphone to record that conversation. If, however, they’re leaning out the window of their living room, talking to someone inside the house, but their voice can be heard from the street, that is not a legitimate expectation of privacy in communication and can be documented and forwarded as evidence. Colleen captured such a conversation in an insurance investigation and it was used as evidence at trial.

Have a great weekend, Writing PIs

What to Do When Confronted with a DUI Checkpoint (Shaun Kaufman Law)

A Lawyer’s Primer for Writers: Types of Lawyers – Criminal Law (Colleen Collins Books)

fedora black and white

All rights reserved by Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman. Any use of the content (including images owned by Colleen Collins and/or Shaun Kaufman) requires specific, written authority. Any violations of this reservation will result in legal action.

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Answering Writers’ Questions About Private Forensic Labs

Posted by Writing PIs on April 14, 2014

Below are writers’ questions about private forensic labs, and our answers.

Writer’s Question: Where can someone find a private forensic lab?

Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes: Personally, we network with other private investigators, lawyers, addiction treatment personnel, even coroners about good DEA-approved private forensic toxicology labs. We searched to see if there’s a list of these labs online and found the following:http://home.lightspeed.net/~abarbour/labs.htm

Writer’s Question: Are all of these labs available to civilians?

Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes:In the link above, the specification to be on the list requires that the lab routinely performs tests for private as well as public agencies.

Writer’s Question: How much do these labs charge civilians?

Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes:In our personal experience (working with civilian client-cases that require chemical analytics), the cost has been about $250 per sample for drug testing. Urine testing is between $20-$150. Hair sample testing in the $120 range. If you’re needing more specific info for a story, contact a local lab and ask their prices (our experience has been that lab personnel are very accessible and can clearly explain testing methods).

Writer’s Question: What if a civilian suspected someone wanted to poison a relative?  Can they go to a lab and be upfront about their concerns?

Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes: Funny you should ask. We actually had a private lab chemist chat with us about a case she recently had that came into her office. A mother suspected her daughter was poisoning her (putting chemicals into the mother’s nightly glass of wine). The chemist at the lab told us the mother was right — they found toxic chemicals in the sample the mother brought into the lab.

Photo courtesy of Mick Stephenson

Photo courtesy of Mick Stephenson

Writer’s Question: What is the process? What paperwork would the PI/civilian have to complete? Does the lab call/mail results? How long does it take to get results?

Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes: All that’s necessary is chain of custody material:  That the sample was captured and handled carefully by the PI, and that it was then sealed and sent in a bag to the lab. In our experience, the lab has faxed us a simple form where we document what we requested to be tested, and how we are paying for their service (like any other business, they want the money upfront).

Regarding how the lab sends results, we typically have received results by fax and email.  We have also called the lab to inquire on the status of tests, and have found lab personnel to be very accommodating — they will take the time to answer our questions, explain their turnaround time for results, and so forth.  If they aren’t busy, we typically get results in 72 hours, sometimes a bit longer.

Writer’s Question: What evidence, if any, would the lab be required to report to law enforcement officials?

Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes:They don’t have a requirement to report to law enforcement.

Writer’s Question: Is there a time limit or other conditions that affect if results would be unattainable or inconclusive?

Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes: Samples don’t lose markers for chemicals unless they are kept under poor conditions (moisture, or heat such as light).

Have a great week, Writing PIs
Click on cover to go to book's Amazon page

Click on cover to go to book’s Amazon page

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Staying Legal in a Shady Business: When PIs Are Asked to Break the Law

Posted by Writing PIs on April 9, 2013

fedora black and whiteCan You Break the Law for Me?

Can’t tell you how many times a potential client will call and ask us to do something blatantly illegal.  We’ve had requests asking us to “put some muscle” on someone who’d confiscated a car (a Ferrari, mind you) to putting a GPS on a vehicle the person doesn’t own to downloading listening software on a person’s cell phone.  We’ve politely explained that unlike Tony Soprano, we don’t do muscle and we’re not into committing felonies.  In the latter two examples (illegally latching GPS trackers on cars and wiretapping phones) we tell the caller that if he/she decides to do that on their own, they’ll be up on felony charges if they’re caught.

Wiretapping & Cell Phone Spyware

More people have smart phones these days, but “back in the day” (not so many years ago), most of us were using cell phones.  Remember them?  I now think of them as stand-alone cell phones.

It was interesting how many ads were out there (magazines, Internet) for cellphone spyware that a buyer could download on someone’s cell phone and listen to (and track) all their conversations.  No mention that the product was inviting people to commit wiretapping, a federal offense and a state crime (both felonies).  Some spyware also allowed the listener to hear conversations that occurred in the vicinity of the phone, even when it was turned off.

We had callers say, “But they claim their product is legal in the ads!”  No, they didn’t claim their product was legal, but they sure

gavel and scalesmade it sound that way.

Committing Burglary and Theft

Probably our most uncomfortable request came from a lawyer, whose name we won’t mention.  He asked us to enter a home to take something from it under a false pretense.  We reminded the lawyer that the law calls those actions burglary and theft. His response?  “Well, use your own judgement.”

We did.  We turned down the case.

Using Shady Business in Fiction

But let’s turn this around to writing fiction–imagine how it bumps up the stakes and tension if a fictional sleuth, knowing he/she is committing a felony, does it anyway.  They illegally track with a GPS, knowing the consequences if they get caught, but they’re doing it for a compelling reason (to save a child, for example).  Adds complexity and tension to the story, doesn’t it?  Or they go into the gray zone and purchase that illegal cell phone software as a last means to track a killer.  As a writer, knowing what’s legal or not for your protagonist sleuth helps you crank up the stakes.  Plus it adds plausibility.

Have a great week, Writing PIs

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Private Eye Fiction Groaners

Posted by Writing PIs on March 17, 2013

A little research can go a long way to creating plausible PI characters (image licensed by Colleen Collins)

Here at Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes, we’re not only private investigators who also write (one of us is also a trial attorney), but we enjoy reading the private genre, too.  But sometimes we read something so implausible, we groan out loud.

A year ago, we wrote about a few private eye bloopers that ripped us right out of the stories — something writers strive not to do to their readers. Some bloopers require some common sense to correct, others a little research on the writer’s part. Today, we add to that blooper list.

Without naming names or titles (in fact, we’ve disguised some story attributes so authors/books aren’t identifiable), we’ll discuss a few instances where we groaned out loud…and sometimes gave up on the story altogether.

The PI Isn’t Licensed Because…You’re Kidding, Right?

We’ve read stories where the private eye character isn’t licensed in a state that requires licensure.  In the recent HBO series Bored to Death (which supposedly is being made into a movie, and we hope this rumor’s true) the private eye is unlicensed in New York, a state that requires PIs to be licensed. The PI character Jonathan Ames kick-started his private eye business by placing an ad in Craigslist. As real-life PIs, it bothered us that Jonathan continued to work undercover and unlicensed show after show…finally, a reference was made that, yes, he was unlicensed and courting legal trouble if were to be caught.

That was enough for us to buy into the story’s plausibility.

Then recently we read a story by an author writing a private eye series with a major publisher.  The private eye is unlicensed in a state that requires licensure. Okay. The PI character admits she is unlicensed, but gets around this problem by not advertising herself as a private investigator but as a legal researcher. Okay. Then, out of the blue, the PI character explains why she never pursued a private investigator license: Because to obtain a license in that state, an applicant must either have a legal degree or past law enforcement employment.

Hello?

Neither of us had ever heard of any state making such a requirement, but to double-check, we reviewed that state’s regulatory requirements for PI licensure. It took us all of 5 minutes to fact-check this. In this state, as with other states, a law enforcement background can be helpful (often, an applicant with that background gains credits toward earning a PI license). But there is no requirement to have been employed in law enforcement, nor to have a law degree. The writer seemed to think it necessary to add this made-up reason, but the character has already explained she wasn’t advertising herself as a PI. At the very least, any PI, PI-hopeful, person who might work with or hire PIs (paralegals, lawyers), law enforcement officers thinking of working as PIs after retirement would find this added reason silly.

If you’re writing a private eye story, and you’re not sure about licensure, below is a link (courtesy of Pursuit Magazine) that provides links to each state’s licensure requirements.  Note: Some states, such as Alaska and Alabama, do not have PI licensing requirements, although the state will require a business license and some cities impose additional PI licensure requirements. Also, in Colorado, there is a voluntary licensure program–the keyword being voluntary–but there is no requirement to be licensed.

Listing of PI licensure requirements by state: Pursuit Magazine: PI Licensing

Clueless, Really?

We just read a novel, actually one that is part of a series, where the private eye team met with an individual.  As readers, we had

PIs don’t leave their partners clueless (image licensed by Colleen Collins)

no idea who this individual was, but considering the fictional PI team was hot on the trail of a case, obviously this person was someone who might have pertinent information about a suspect or the crime itself, or maybe was an eye witness, or…well, we were ready to find out.

Imagine our surprise when one of the PIs had no idea why the meeting was taking place! The individual with whom the PI team was meeting asked the clueless PI (very loosely paraphrasing the dialogue here), “You don’t know who am I?”  The clueless PI answered, “No.”  The individual turns to the other PI and asked, “Your partner doesn’t know why the two of you are here?”  to which the first PI quipped something like, “Yeah, I don’t like to tell my partner everything — it’s good for [the clueless PI] to be surprised.”

What?  A PI team goes to a meeting with a possibly important resource/witness/contact, and one of the PIs is purposefully left uninformed and clueless?  This was one of several clueless episodes in this story, and the one that made us finally shut the book for good.  There is no way one of us would drive the other to such a meeting and not brief our partner on the ride. It’s to the benefit of any case we’re working that we’re both as informed as possible.  We both have our strengths, our styles of interviewing/investigating, and if we’re both well informed, we’ve just doubled our chances to unearth that telling detail, maybe even solve the case.

This isn’t PI rocket science.  Even in the business world, who wants to purposefully take a clueless person to a meeting?  Or how about leaving your car for repair at a shop and not tell anyone what you want fixed or looked at in your car?

Enough said.  Onto the next PI peeve.

Cell Phone, Really?

If your private eye uses a phone, research the technology rather than make it up (image licensed by Colleen Collins)

It’s fairly safe to say that the majority of current-day PIs have basic-to-advanced technological skills. For example many of us rely on our smartphones to do a handful of investigative tasks that used to require a bucket load of equipment. For example, at our agency, we use our smartphones to record and transmit witness interviews, take photos, even scan and transmit documents.  Cool stuff.

Here’s our techno-peeve: We recently started to read a story set in 1990 where the PI didn’t answer her cell phone because she’d forgotten to charge it. Uh, what?  Cell phones were in common use in 1990? To be fair, we researched cell phones on the Internet. According to “The Evolution of Cell Phone Design Between 1983 and 2009,” the first truly portable phone was the Motorola MicroTAC 9800X made in 1989 — a monster affair with a ruler-size antennae.  According to Wikipedia, the 9800X’s price tag was between $2,495 and $3,495.  This wasn’t a rich PI by any means — in fact, this gumshoe had to scrimp on food and other essentials to make the monthly rent. Seriously doubt this fictional PI could afford a cell phone that cost several thousand dollars. Heck, even today, my business partner and I wouldn’t blow that kind of money on a cell phone!

By the way, the next cell phone was the digital hand-size mobile telephone called the Motorola International 3200 made in 1992, two years after this story took place.

It’s a small point, maybe, but cell phones are such a part of our world today that this inaccurate factoid stood out like Philip Marlowe at a nunnery. Wouldn’t have taken much research for the writer to realize the PI probably used a landline in 1990. Still can’t figure out how this slipped past the editor…maybe he/she was too busy on their cell phone to notice.

Have a great week, Writing PIs

All rights reserved by Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman. Please do not copy/distribute any images noted as copyrighted or licensed. Images noted as in the public domain are copyright-free and yours to steal.

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Has the Private Eye in Movies Lost Its Myth?

Posted by Writing PIs on January 18, 2013

This morning we were amused, surprised and even a bit intrigued after reading several crime fiction articles.  One claimed that the “myth” of the private eye in movies, a la Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe, is not a “renewable source.”  Another shook its figurative finger at publishers for their lack of “gritty” credibility.

We needed an extra cup of coffee–black like our noir-loving hearts–to digest these cynical tid-bits.

Below are links to these articles, with a few of our notes.  We wish we could added more, but we have work to do.  Investigating a case, interviewing witnesses, dragging a reluctant client to his probation.  The real-life stuff of a criminal defense attorney and a PI–funny how some people, non-PIs, think all we do is sit at computers and search databases.  Kinda like how some critics proclaim the private eye genre has gone flabby.  You get our drift.

The Private Eye Movie=Not a Renewable Resource

It's Only ChinatownForget It, Marlowe–It’s Chinatown. Subtitle: “How Roman Polanski‘s masterpiece demythologised the hard-boiled private eye” by  Graham Fuller, theartsdesk.com

The writer starts out saying that the “movie version of the hardboiled private eye…was never as enduring as his literary original.”  He goes on to say that the re-release of Polanski’s Chinatown reminds us that the myth consecrated by Spade and Marlowe is not a renewable resource.

Don’t get us wrong–we thoroughly enjoyed this article, which is noir-ly despairing of the “knight errant” role of the private eye as epitomized by Bogart as first Spade in The Maltese Falcon, then as Marlowe in The Big Sleep.  But we had trouble buying that this character’s heydey was during and after World War II.  We were also a bit confused with the analysis that the obese police captain character (who plants evidence and stoops to murder) in Orson Welles’s Touch of Evil had the “aura of a private eye.”  Uh, what happened to the epitomized knight errant model?

The writer devoted several paragraphs about Altman’s 1973 The Long Good-bye with Elliot Gould as Marlowe, a film we both love.  Some believe Altman’s movie version is more Chandler in spirit than, say, Hawks’s The Big Sleep. In this article, the writer believes it was private eye Jake Gittes in Chinatown, made a year or so after Altman’s The Long Good-bye, that restored the knightly myth.  Restored?  Did it really go away?  To our mind, Gould’s Marlowe held onto that tarnished knightly myth as a PI steeped in cynicism and shady deeds, yet we, the viewer, still got glimpses of a deeply personal involvement that sometimes errs on the side of morality. That’s the gumshoe myth that still appears in films, too.  We’re not saying all the time, but we certainly don’t think it stumbled off its cracked pedestal after WWII.  Anybody see Michael Shannon in the 2009 Australian film The Missing Person?

Bought off: how crime fiction lost the plot.  Subtitle “Thriller writing was once a British strength, but publishers are reducing it to a formulaic genre. Time, maybe, for murder most foul…” by Christopher Fowler, the Independent

We’re not British, but we found it interesting that the writer encourages readers to “step away” from crime fiction publishers’ current offerings because the “genre has backed itself into a dead end.”  His view is that publishers are falsely advertising their latest murder mysteries to be grittily realistic.

They aren’t grittily real?

May we take this to a bigger view of crime fiction?  One of us has been privileged to be a judge for the Private Eye Writers of America bad private eye with gunthree times (2013 will be her fourth stint).  In this capacity, she has read several hundred private eye-crime novels, and many (she lost count) short stories in the genre as well.  And sometimes she agrees that the crimes portrayed aren’t realistic, gritty or otherwise, but just as often they are dead-on correct.  One way she knows this is she has investigated certain types of crimes, and other times she has analyzed the crimes with her once-PI-partner who is now a criminal defense attorney (with nearly 30 years in the criminal justice field), as well as with a good pal, a local homicide detective, who has been walking some very real, very mean streets for several decades.

Yet in a recent book she wrote, which she researched based on several real, gritty crimes, then followed up by having several experts in the field check the book for legal veracity and crime accuracy, one Amazon reviewer sniffed that one crime in particular was “implausible.”

Let’s go back to this article.  At the end, the writer makes a pitch for publishers to let readers discover other crime tales that lay outside of those that lean on gritty realism.  Tales that are farcical, tragic, even strange.  Sure, why not?

Both articles are fun, well written, educational reads.  We just disagree with grand, sweeping statements–be it the dying myth of a character or the honesty of crimes in fiction.

Have a great weekend, Writing PIs

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Our Top 10 Posts About Private Investigations in 2012

Posted by Writing PIs on December 30, 2012

Happy New Year from Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes!

It’s almost time to ring in the new year! But before we commence 2013, we’re honoring 2012 by listing our top 10 posts from the last year. Interestingly enough, a few were written in 2010 or 2009, but they remained readers’ favorites.

Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes’s Top 10 Posts in 2012

To read a post, click on the link.

#1: Booklist’s Online “Web Crush of the Week”: Guns, Gams, and Gumshoesdetective with flashlight

#2: Private vs. Public Investigators: What’s the Difference?

#3: Private Investigator and Murder Cases

#4: He Said, She Said: Pros and Cons of Being Married to Your PI Partner

#5: iPhone Apps for Private Investigators

#6: Showtime Series Homeland Bloopers and Fave TV Female Private Eyes

#7: Can You Put a GPS on My Boyfriend’s Car?

#8: How to Find Someone: Free Online Research Tips

#9: How to Conduct a Trash Hit: A Private Investigator’s Dumpster Secrets

#10: When the Amazing Race Reality Show Called and Invited Us to Audition

Honorable Mention:  What’s the Importance of a Crime Scene?

Happy New Year, Writing PIs

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Two Nonfiction Books About the Real World of Private Eyes

Posted by Writing PIs on December 10, 2012

Shaun Kaufman and Colleen Collins

Here at Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes, one of us, Shaun, is also a criminal defense attorney, the other, Colleen, a multi-published writer.  After teaching classes to writers at various conferences about developing realistic private eyes in fiction, we co-authored a nonfiction book geared to writers, and later Colleen wrote a second nonfiction book packed with articles she’s written on the art of private investigations.  Below are details about both books.

How to Write a Dick: A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life SleuthsHow to Write a Dick cover
Available on Amazon for $4.99 at http://www.amazon.com/How-Write-Dick-Fictional-ebook/dp/B00595K1UK

This nonfiction research book for writers, co-authored with attorney and former investigator Shaun Kaufman, provides facts and guidance for novelists, scriptwriters and others who are crafting mystery, legal thriller or suspense stories. This book also appeals to readers who are simply curious about the techniques and tools of real-life private eyes. Topics include a history of private investigators; descriptions of various specialized fields and how to gain experience in them, from insurance investigations to white-collar crime investigations to pet detection; how private investigators conduct surveillances on foot and in vehicles; the basics of homicide investigations and how private investigators might be involved; a gumshoe glossary and much more.

“If you want authenticity in creating a fictional private investigator for your stories, then this is a must-have reference book. Its authors, Colleen and Shaun, are living, breathing PIs with years of actual experience in the PI game.” ~ R.T. Lawton, 25 years on the street as a federal special agent and author of 4 series in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine

“Forget Google and Bing. When you need to research PI work, go to the experts, Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman: they live it, they teach it, they write it. 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. This will be the industry standard for years to come.”
—Reed Farrel Coleman, three-time Shamus Award winner for Best PI Novel of the Year and author of Hurt Machine

How Do Private Eyes Do That?HOW DO PRIVATE EYES DO THAT cover
Available on Amazon for $2.99 at http://www.amazon.com/How-Private-Eyes-That-ebook/dp/B005SSZJM8

This nonfiction book is useful for writers conducting research for mystery, thriller and suspense novels, as well as for readers interested in learning about real private detectives. The book provides dozens of articles on the art of private investigations, including case examples and a listing of recommended writers’ and professional private investigators’ sites. Topics include how to locate missing persons, how to find cell phone numbers, tips for catching cheating spouses, where to access free online research sites, techniques for conducting successful witness interviews, tips for investigating white-collar crime and more.

“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

“Real-life private investigator Colleen Collins spills the beans.”
~The Thrilling Detective

Have a great week, Writing PIs

Posted in Nonfiction book: HOW TO WRITE A DICK, PI Topics, Writing About PIs, Writing Mysteries | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off on Two Nonfiction Books About the Real World of Private Eyes

Showtime Series Homeland Bloopers and Fave TV Female Private Eyes

Posted by Writing PIs on December 6, 2012

Today we look at the Showtime series Homeland and one its obvious bloopers, plus reviews of some iconic TV female private eyes of yesteryear.

eye and magnifying glass

Homeland Bloopers

We dig Homeland, the Showtime series about a decorated hero, Nicholas Brody, who returns to the U.S. as a serious threat to the U.S., and the CIA officer, Carrie Mattison, who risks everything, including her heart and sanity, to expose this threat. Every week, the stories are gripping and complex as Brody and Carrie dance around each other with lies, suspicion and enough chemistry to blow up the screen.

And then there’s the bloopers.  Every time we watch the show, we have a moment (or two) when we groan.  Skip down to Fave TV Female Private Eyes if you’re behind in your Homeland watching and don’t want to read this story spoiler.

Okay, for those of you willing to read on, we groaned out loud at this recent blooper:

The vice-president’s kid’s hit-and-run scene. The kid and his girlfriend (Brody’s daughter) are on their first date and, in the process of ditching the Secret Service, they hit a homeless woman.  Sitting 20-30 feet away in their running car, they look out the back window at the fallen woman.  The kid doesn’t want to go back and help her because, to paraphrase, “I’m the vice president’s son!” Meanwhile, someone has run over to check out the fallen woman.  The vice-president’s son’s car is fully visible, with a light over the back license plate.  And it doesn’t dawn on him, or Brody’s daughter, or the shows’ writers that it’s easy to read that license plate and, oh, turn it in as the vehicle that committed the hit and run?

And another gripe about the whole kids ditching the Secret Service and pulling a hit-and-run.  Surely the vice president’s son’s vehicle, not to mention his cell phone, are GPS’d.  There’s evidence that the vehicle was at the hit-and-run scene.

Nevertheless, we love the show, can’t stop watching it despite the occasional groaner.

Honey West on phoneFave TV Female Private Eyes

Over at The Zen Man, Colleen’s posted several articles about her fave TV female private eyes of yesteryear. To read an article, click on a  link.

Favorite Women Private Eyes on TV #1: Nora Charles

Favorite Women Private Eyes on TV #2: Honey West

Favorite Women Private Eyes on TV #3: Maddie Hayes

Have a great week, Writing PIs

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The Writing PIs ranked #8 in PINow’s Top 75 Investigators on Twitter 2012

Posted by Writing PIs on October 26, 2012

Note: The first posting of the list ranked @writingpis as #8, but since then PINow.com is only posting an alphabetical list of the top 75 investigators on Twitter.  Our original post is below.

PINow.com , a directory of local, pre-screened and professional private investigators, has released its 2012 list of “Top 75 Investigators on Twitter 2012” and we’re happy to say that the Writing PIs (@writingpis on Twitter), your hosts at Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes, ranked #8 on the list.  According to PINow, “Ranking factors included ranks on WeFollow, Klout, RetweetRank, number of followers versus following, and more. The relevancy, consistency, and variety of tweets were also considered.”

Thank you, PINow!  And congratulations to everyone else who got listed. To read the complete list, click here.

Other PINow Articles

PINow is a great resource for investigators, process servers, researchers and legal professionals.  It’s also a handy resource for writers crafting stories with sleuth characters and story lines.  Below is a sampling of their articles–to read an item, click on its link:

Signs of a Cheating Spouse: This infographic, compiled by PINow, lists the top signs of a cheating spouse based on feedback from private investigators.

10 Ways Electronically Stored Information Is Changing the Investigative Industry

21 Ridiculous Explanations of What a PI Does and How to Become One

A Private Investigator’s Tips for Breaking Bad News to Clients

Have a great weekend, Writing PIs

Posted in Honorable Mentions, Private Eyes in the News, Writing PIs | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

 
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