Tag: detectives


Homicide, Life in the Classroom

 Took a break from writing to attend a session of my local police department’s Citizens’ Police Academy. I enrolled in the Academy this past Fall but I missed a couple of sessions so I came back to the Spring Academy for a make up class. The night’s topics were investigations and motor vehicle crashes. First, we learned about accident investigations, everything from who investigates (a multi-community team of specially trained investigators), to the prerequisites required to become a crash investigator (certification as a lead homicide investigator, an evidence technician, an accident reconstructor, a drone pilot, and more), to how to determine how fast a vehicle had been moving right before it wrapped itself around a tree (it involves measuring skid marks and knowing the road’s coefficient of friction). Then we learned what it takes to be a detective (as opposed to a patrol officer) in this town. Short answer: training and experience. (Police in this town train a lot.) We learned when patrol officers call in detectives and the types of cases detectives usually handle. We learned the best way to get your luxury vehicle stolen (leave it parked in your driveway with the key fob in it and the doors unlocked) […]

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Writing historical characters

Please welcome the very fabulous Greer Macallister to our Miss Demeanors blog.  Greer is a poet, short story writer, playwright and novelist who earned her MFA in Creative Writing from American University. Her debut novel THE MAGICIAN’S LIE was a USA Today bestseller, an Indie Next pick, and a Target Book Club selection. It has been optioned for film by Jessica Chastain’s Freckle Films. Her new novel GIRL IN DISGUISE, about real-life 19th-century detective/bad-ass Kate Warne, was an Indie Next pick for April 2017 and received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, which called it “a well-told, superb story.”   Today, Greer’s discussing how she went about transforming a real-life detective into a fictional one.    When I first learned the name of the first woman detective on record – Kate Warne – I was excited. She began work as a Pinkerton operative in Chicago in 1856, solving cases and fighting crime more than 50 years before police departments started hiring women as detectives. I couldn’t fathom why I’d never heard of her. As soon as I started researching Kate, I figured out one key reason: there isn’t all that much to say. The known facts about Kate Warne’s life and career barely fill a page. The same […]

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The Real Detectives

For the sake of argument, I’ll say that mystery writers usually learn a little bit about policing. They interview detectives, visit labs, read about process and cases. They try to soak in what is necessary to help bring their story to life. I’ve the good fortune to know several writers who were also detectives. I’ve often wondered if that makes their job as mystery/crime writers easier or more difficult. Sure, they have the knowledge at their fingertips, but it must be difficult to distill this into what goes into the actual book. Writers of fiction aren’t recounting ‘fact’, we are creating it, and are allowed to bend the facts to suit the story (truthfully, expected to!). For a former detective that might be hard. I was reminded of these complexities today when reading my friend and fellow author, Brian Thiem’s, essay about returning from retirement to testify in a case that had been cold for 25 years. Brian talks about his time on the stand and dealing with the emotions of wondering if they could have done more all those years ago. In this case, there is one less killer walking the streets and that is success. He says that is […]

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