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

Posts Tagged ‘tips for fiction writers’

Answering Writer’s Question: How Easy Would It Be for a Person to Adopt a New Identity?

Posted by Writing PIs on August 14, 2014

bad guy

Writer’s Question: How difficult would it be for an everyday person (I’ll call him Joe Smith) to learn how to obtain falsified ID documents?  In my story, I have a character who’s hired by shady business people to gain secrets about an opponent’s business.  Could Joe Smith easily (or not so easily) get a job under a different name, and get falsified docs in that name?    As long as Joe Smith didn’t have a criminal record (in fact, he has a squeaky clean record), is it plausible he can get away with this?

Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes’s Answer: It’s not difficult to get new identity documents, but it is difficult to adopt skill-set, career talents, and being convincing as another person with a life history, friends and family.  As to how this everyday person in your story might go about getting new ID documents, the person might turn to someone who possibly has connections to underground contacts, such as a bookie, and ask if they know someone who can assist with providing forged identity documents.  Of course, your character shouldn’t bumble into such a conversation, but could perhaps pay attention to this hypothetical bookie, get a feel if he/she might have such contacts, then ease into the old “I have a friend who’s looking for a new driver’s license because he lost his after a DUI…”

Below is a link to an FAQ that offers Q&As on this topic. A lot of it appears to be an organization hyping its report on this topic, but we’re talking about fiction in this post, not real life, so maybe there’s a nugget or two you can use in your story.

Note: We do not encourage employing questionable or illegal tactics, and the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author/s and respondents and in no way reflects our endorsement:  

“New Identity FAQ”

Have a good week, Writing PIs

woman looking thru mag glass black and white2

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.

Posted in Creating False IDs | Tagged: , , | Comments Off on Answering Writer’s Question: How Easy Would It Be for a Person to Adopt a New Identity?

A Couple of Non-Fiction Books for the Sleuth-Writer in Your Life

Posted by Writing PIs on December 16, 2011

Maybe you know someone writing a story featuring a private eye, or someone who’s a PI-genre fan, or someone who’s intrigued about the world of private investigators. Hey, maybe that person is you. Below are two books by Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes’s private investigators about the real world of private investigations. Below that are a few links to some recent articles about private investigations for your reading pleasure.

How to Write a Dick: A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths

Geared mostly to writers writing sleuths, with plenty of info for those wanting to read more about the real-life world of whodunits. Topics include a history of private investigators, a sampling of private investigative specializations (from legal investigations to pet detectives to investigating white-collar crime), the ins and outs of a private investigator’s business (from licensing to marketing), homicide investigations, a DNA Primer and a “Gumshoe Glossary.”

“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

“How to Write a Dick is a gift to crime fiction authors everywhere, a comprehensive and no-nonsense compendium of information, analysis and thought-provoking writing prompts that will help you create your own 21st century shamus with confidence and class. An absolute must for the library of any PI writer!” ~ Kelli Stanley, critically acclaimed author of City of Dragons and the Miranda Corbie series

To order How to Write a Dick

How to Write a Dick is an eBook, but you don’t need an ereader. Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble provide free apps that are easy to download onto your laptop, desktop, other device.  Want to give as a gift? All you need is the person’s email address.

How to Write a Dick on Kindle

How Do Private Eyes Do That?

Geared to the armchair sleuth, with plenty of info for writers, investigators, and others interested in the techniques and tools of today’s private investigators. Dozens of articles about private investigations on such topics as how to catch a cheater, techniques for finding people, how to locate a cell phone number, tips for locating a family trust, email security tips, how to unblock incoming blocked phone numbers, intellectual property investigations, the art of interviewing witnesses, listening devices, sleuth gadgets…we’re running out of breath, here…online research tips, how to search for people on YouTube, case examples, a listing (plus links) of several dozen private investigator blogs and PI-genre writers…and a whole lot 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

To order How Do Private Eyes Do That?

Same as above — you don’t need an ereader to download this book. Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble make it easy (and free) to download an app onto your PC/Mac/other device to read this book. If you want to send it as a gift, all you need is the person’s email address.

How Do Private Eyes Do That? on Kindle


Posted in Nonfiction book: HOW DO PRIVATE EYES DO THAT?, PI Topics, Sleuth Gifts, Writing About PIs | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off on A Couple of Non-Fiction Books for the Sleuth-Writer in Your Life

Answering Writers’ Questions: Hidden Offshore Assets and Bail Skipping

Posted by Writing PIs on July 27, 2009

Updated August 18, 2012

Today we’re sharing some fiction writers’ questions and Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes’s answers.

Writer’s Question: Regarding PIs searching for assets.  What if these assets are set up in countries outside the US?  What if your client lives in the US, but the account is in Switzerland or the Isle of Man?  Actually, I thought tax-free accounts were supposed to be cracked down on by the IRS.  How could a wife find out if her husband was hiding money during a nasty divorce?  Can it be undetected without a bank number?  I don’t think those types of banks use regular name and account numbers like here, but I’m not sure.

Seal of the United States Internal Revenue Ser...

Seal of the United States Internal Revenue Service. The design is the same as the Treasury seal with an IRS inscription. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes’s Answer: Our agency doesn’t specialize in this kind of work, but we have info nevertheless that can be helpful to writers.  For starters, a lot of countries now participate in reporting offshore bank accounts.  To the best of our knowledge, Guernsey, England is still very private (i.e., not reporting offshore accounts), but in this case a U.S. citizen could hire a local U.K. attorney to open an account in Guernsey and act as an agent in that country.   Bahamas, once a popular place in reality and many fiction stories as a place to hide assets, is no longer such a financial haven–after the U.S. threatened them with trade restraints, they agreed to disclose information about bank accounts.   Another country that is private: a small country named Nevis (an island nation in the West Indies) that has extremely tight privacy laws.  Check out, which is located there.  There are probably other countries/regions that are also private, but one would need to research that.

Writer’s Question: Regarding Skips.  What if a person skips while out on bail and somehow manages to leave the country?  Could a family hire you to find them before the FBI does?  Of course, if you were hunting for a criminal, you would have to turn them in if you found them, wouldn’t you?

Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes’s Answer: We’ve been hired by families and attorneys to find people in other countries.  However, we’ve never tracked someone who had skipped out on bail (this is what bounty hunters, like Dog, are hired to do).  So if

a bounty hunter is tracking someone who’s skipped bail and there’s indications this person is in another country, the bounty hunter would have to work closely with that country’s local and national law enforcement, the U.S. Embassy, and any private individuals who also specialize in bail/skip recapture.  This is an extremely technical area, bound up in a mess of treaties concerning extradition, as well as that country’s local law as well as international law (including the Hague Convention).  Remember all the trouble Dog got into a few years ago (for those who might not know, google Dog the Bounty Hunter and Mexico)?  In that scenario, one man’s bounty hunter was another man’s kidnapper.

Duane "Dog" Chapman

Duane “Dog” Chapman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Writer’s Question: Under a similar scenario:  Suppose a woman hired you to find a long lost love and you were able to locate him, but unbeknown to her, he had a criminal record and was wanted.  Are you obligated to tell her this information?  Are you obligated to turn him in?  I think this could make for a great book.

Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes’s Answer: We would tell her, and we would tell law enforcement.

Have a great weekend, Writing PIs

Posted in Writing About PIs | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off on Answering Writers’ Questions: Hidden Offshore Assets and Bail Skipping

%d bloggers like this: