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

  • Advertisements

Posts Tagged ‘real-life stories of female private eyes’

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.

 

Advertisements

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

The Witness Who Came in from the Cold

Posted by Writing PIs on February 23, 2017

black-white-woman-along-at-table-drinking-gratisograph-ryan-mcguire

(Image courtesy of Ryan McGuire)

We worked this case as an investigative team, with our results helping a defense lawyer to obtain a dismissal for his client. Also, we worked this case the old-fashioned way, on foot, as a key witness was afraid for her identity to be traced digitally (email, phone, etc.).

Late One Summer Night…

…a resident in a home near a park called 911 after hearing sounds of yelling and fighting (the caller couldn’t see the park itself as the view was obstructed by other homes). When police arrived at the park, they found three local gang members with knife wounds, lying on the ground. The gang members said two rival gang members from another city had stabbed them. One ran away, whereabouts unknown. The other had flagged down a car for a ride (they gave the license plate and description of that car.) Police found no weapons on the three gang members—it was later learned that others in their gang had gathered all the weapons and left before the police arrived.

Charge: Felony 3, First-Degree Assault

Police found the described car parked at a home in the neighborhood. The driver admitted he’d given a ride to a young man (whom we’ll call “E”), who had flagged him down and asked for a lift to a friend’s home. The police went to that address and found E, who matched the description given by the stabbed gang members.

handcuffed-hands

With no witnesses to confirm E’s claim of self-defense, police arrested him (image licensed by Colleen Collins)

Although E claimed self-defense, saying the rival gang had harassed, punched, and threatened him with their weaponry, the police charged him with the stabbings, a felony 3, first-degree assault.

Following the code of gang members, E refused to give any information about his fellow gang member who’d run away (later we learned this gang member had returned to his car and driven back to the neighboring city that night).

Goal: Find a Witness

E hired a defense lawyer (for whom we worked as defense investigators at the time). The lawyer informed the court and opposing counsel that our client was claiming self-defense.

Because E refused to identify his fellow gang member, the case lacked an independent corroborating witness. Based on the 911 call, people in the neighborhood had obviously heard the fighting, but no one had yet come forward to say that E had fought in self-defense.

As investigators we could have driven to the neighboring city and tried to root out this gang-member-witness—yeah, that would have been an easy, fruitful enterprise (not).

Bottom line: we had one weapon, the old “neighborhood canvas” or knock and talk.

Fear of Gang Retaliation

Problem was, people didn’t want to talk. An elderly man confided that people were afraid to talk out of fear of gang retaliation.

Next, we printed posters asking anyone who had seen an incident on [date] and [park name] to call [phone number], and the conversation would remain confidential. Whenever we’ve posted flyers like this, we use a dedicated, virtual phone number (meaning we set up a unique number that can’t be traced, and rings through to one of our office phones).

Then we walked up and down the sidewalks of this east Denver gang-infested, lower middle-class neighborhood, sticking our posters on street light poles, the fence around the park, and other such public spots (didn’t leave any on people’s doors as we didn’t want any third parties later assuming so-and-so, who had had a flyer on their door, was probably the snitch).

The Clock Was Ticking

Days later, we began to panic. E had to decide on a 5- to 12-year prison-only plea offer in the coming week, and no one had called us.

One late afternoon, we got a call from a coffee shop phone number in a different part of the city. The caller identified herself as a mother who lived near the park, but refused to give her name, or any digital means of contacting her (email address, cell phone number, etc.) as she was afraid of being traced. She said she’d seen local gang members threatening and taunting E, who at first had run from them, but after being cornered, fought back in self-defense. She wanted to do the right thing and “help that young man.”

A Secret Night Meeting

black-and-white-forest-light

The witness met us in the park shadows (image courtesy of Ryan McGuire)

She agreed to meet us in the park, at night, and point out where the young men had fought. We arrived at the park one weekday night and waited. An older woman walked toward us from a corner of the park.

In the shadows, she pointed out where she’d seen E running from the others, and where E had ended up with his back to a fence. We gave her our lawyer’s card and asked her to call him, and that the lawyer would protect her identity by sealing her statement in the court file.

D.A. Reviews Investigative Report

With a reliable, independent witness supporting E’s story, the defense lawyer took our interview and case report to the prosecution, who agreed to dismiss the charges against E.

All rights reserved by Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman, and any use of the content requires specific, written authority. Please do not copy/distribute mages licensed by Colleen Collins as she does not have the authority to share with others. All other images are in the public domain, with the caveat by the photographer, Ryan McGuire, to please credit them with his name.

Posted in Real-Life Private Investigator Stories | Tagged: , , | Comments Off on The Witness Who Came in from the Cold

Looking Back: Pros and Cons on Being Married to Your PI Partner

Posted by Writing PIs on July 21, 2015

July 21, 2015

Below is an article we wrote nearly 5 years ago, back when we co-owned a private detective agency. In it, we shared our pros and cons on being a married PI team. Fast forward to today…Shaun is a full-time & then some lawyer and yours truly is a part-time PI and writer. We love our current jobs, but sometimes we look back at our 24/7 sleuthing days together and miss them.

The Challenges of Co-Owning a PI Agency

We weathered a lot during the 10+ years we co-owned the PI agency, such as:

  1. Keeping the agency afloat during some tough recession years
  2. Tackling cases that broke our hearts (a missing child, a young man brainwashed by a cult, a husband crying over his wife’s infidelity)
  3. Meshing our work styles (Shaun’s a big-picture kinda guy & Colleen’s a detailed-oriented kinda gal…mix ’em together for some entertaining conflicts).

Then One Day…

Wedding cake March 24 2009

We eloped. Bought our wedding cake on the way to the justice of the peace (bakery owner just happened to have a bride & groom figure to put on top of a blue and white cake). Our wedding decorations consisted of a big bow we taped to a tree. We loved every moment.

Missing the PI Team

The other day I did a difficult locate (finding a person) for one of Shaun’s legal cases. He was immensely relieved when I found the person as his case pivoted on that locate. Then he said, “I really miss when we worked together as PIs.”

Back when we were working side-by-side, 24/7, he didn’t always miss me, though 🙂

Without further ado, our pros and cons “back in the day”…

Working with Your PI Spouse: For Better, for Worse

Illustration courtesy of James Braddock (image copyright protected - do not copy or distribute)

Illustration courtesy of James Braddock (image copyright protected)

(January 2012)

At Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes, we’re a couple of PIs who also write…and are also married to each other. This can be great…and sometimes challenging. Today we’ll each answer “what are the pros and cons” of being a married PI team.

Shaun’s Pros

  • You really know your partner, there’s no learning curve.
  • During those times when you have to improvise or pretext, you can cue your partner and pick up their cues, which makes what you’re trying to accompliShaun Kaufmansh believeable and effective.
  • There’s no need to inform your work partner of demands or troubles in your personal life because she knows!

Shaun’s Cons

First of all, I’m a brave man for being the first to answer this question, but I’ve been granted absolute immunity. Here’s my cons:

  • You can’t bullshit your partner about anything, and there’s no hiding behind your moods.
  • Whereas other households might have two spouses with independent revenue streams, the married-PI couple is often working the same job. If that client’s check bounces, it can hit us hard.
  • Chasing cheating spouses can be deleterious to one’s libido. After a night of watching spouses cheat, I’m not always in the mood if you get my drift.

Colleen’s ProsColleen Colleen with her novel SHOCK WAVES

  • Sometimes being a husband-and-wife PI team gets us the case. For example, a client thinks his wife will be meeting her paramour at a swanky restaurant — we can easily fit into that scenario as another couple dining in that restaurant, even being romantic together, versus a PI sitting alone at a table.
  • Shaun’s a big-picture person, I’m a detailed person. Together, we get a good snapshot of a case.
  • Shaun trained a lot of PIs over the years in his attorney practice, so if I’m working a new type of case, I get the benefit of working side-by-side with a mentor (or having one on call).

Colleen’s Cons

  • It’s that big-picture thing. Sometimes I don’t understand how he glosses over the details.
  • We’ve had clients who think two-for-the-price-of-one. No, just because we’re married doesn’t mean we each get paid half-price.
  • When we’re both in the field, there’s no one to call at home to let the dogs out.

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. The Nick and Nora illustration in this article is licensed by Colleen Collins from the artist for per personal use – please do not copy/distribute/use as this illustration is copyright protected.

Posted in Real-life married private-eye teams | Tagged: , , , | Comments Off on Looking Back: Pros and Cons on Being Married to Your PI Partner

SECRETS OF A REAL-LIFE FEMALE PRIVATE EYE – P.I. blogs, magazines and websites

Posted by Writing PIs on July 12, 2013

To go to book's Amazon page, click on cover

To go to book’s Amazon page, click on cover

“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

“This book does a great job bridging the gap between our country’s first private investigators to the state of the modern sleuth. I like that Colleen is thoughtful about her work and her cases and represents our profession well. This is a must-read for anyone remotely curious about what a private dick(ette?) really does.”
~Mike Spencer, PI, Partner, Spencer Elrod Services, Inc.

Guns, Gams & Gumshoes’s Colleen Collins’s  nonfiction ebook is Secrets of a Real-Life Female Private Eye, a part-memoir, part-reference book whose topics include:

  • A history of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency
  • The hiring of the first women P.I. in the U.S., Kate Warne
  • The advantages and dangers of being a current-day female P.I.
  • Tools of the trade, from interactive crime maps to smartphone apps
  • A sampling of cases, from paranormal to criminal investigations
  • Investigative tips, including free online searches, finding lost pets and sending untraceable emails
  • An overview of popular fictional private eye counterparts
  • And much more!

Available on Amazon.

Excerpt from Secrets of a Real-Life Female Private Eye

woman looking thru mag glass black and white2

Below is a partial excerpt from a book appendix that lists a variety of P.I. blogs, magazines and websites.  Enjoy!

Appendix A: Some Favorite Sites

Below are a few of my favorite blogs, websites and online magazines, authored by real-life P.I.s or people in associated fields.  I’ve added a few private-eye genre sites as well for those interested in reading about gumshoe writers and stories.

Defrosting Cold Cases: A blog by Alice de Sturler to explore why some homicide cases remain unsolved. Through blogging and innovative use of existing technology, she has been able to get those cases renewed media attention.  Excellent resource for articles, interviews, news and cold case investigations.

Diligentia Group: Run by private investigator Brian Willingham, CFE, who specializes in due diligence, background and legal investigations.  He writes informative articles about the art and business of private investigations.

Handcuffed to the Ocean: One of our favorite real-life private investigators, also a fiction writer, is Steven Kerry Brown who is one of the writers for this blog. To read Steve’s blogs, click on the “Crime” category. Also check out his nonfiction book The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Private Investigating.

PInow.com news: News and articles about private investigations.

PIBuzz.com: Authored by Tamara Thompson, a highly respected California private investigator known for her expertise in Internet data gathering, genealogical and adoption research, witness background development and locating people.

Professional Investigator Magazine: Owned by the P.I. team Jimmie and Rosemarie Mesis, two nationally recognized private investigators, this magazine offers articles, resources and products for professional private investigators. In both print and digital, subscribers can order only one magazine or a full subscription. Also check out their investigative products site PIGEAR and their books on investigations at PIstore.com

Pam Beason: Private investigator and writer. From her website: “My books include strong women characters, quirky sidekicks, animals, a dash of humor and big dose of suspense. I love the wilderness, so many of my stories feature wildlife and outdoor adventures.”

Private Eye digital comic book:  Artist Marcos Martin and writer Brian K. Vaughan call this a “forward-looking mystery” featuring a private detective in a futuristic world where privacy is considered a sacred right and everyone has a secret identity.  The price is pay-what-you-can, and they’re planning on publishing 10 issues total.

Pursuit Magazine: What began as an informal e-zine for professional investigators, bail bondsmen, process servers, attorneys, and other security and legal professionals has morphed this past year into “a clearinghouse of information for truth seekers of all stripes, from detectives to journalists.” Check it out.

End of excerpt – partial list in appendix

Posted in Secrets of a Real-Life Female Female Private Eye, Writing Mysteries, Writing PIs | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off on SECRETS OF A REAL-LIFE FEMALE PRIVATE EYE – P.I. blogs, magazines and websites

 
%d bloggers like this: