Thrilled to attend the 2016 Bony Blithe awards for lightmysteries today. Finalists are
Victoria Abbott, The Marsh Madness (Berkley Prime Crime)
Elizabeth J. Duncan, Untimely Death (Crooked Lane Books)
Eva Gates, Booked for Trouble (NAL)
Victoria Hamilton, White Colander Crime (Berkley Prime Crime)
Alexis Koetting, Encore (Five Star)
RCMP Sgt. Patrice Poitevin likes some television police shows − Law and Order Special Victims Unit − for example. But he especially like to help writers get things straight.
It is important to describe the right procedures in order to create believable stories, he says, and it is the intersection between science and “the human factor” that gives writers the opportunity to build suspense. “The Science factor is accurate, the problem is with the human factor, pressure from bosses or the public to find the culprit.”
And by the way nothing moves as fast as it does on television. “To get tax records you need a warrant, a production order etc. You can’t get it automatically. Warrants that took one page years ago now take fifty pages.”
If an officer happens on a crime in commission, the suspect can be secured and the police can get a warrant to search the place. “You can seize what is in plain sight” but not search drawers etc. without a warrant.
Police chases make good TV but are not that common, he said at the AD Astra Conference in Toronto in April. Strict rules govern the police’s treatment of suspects. Suspects have a right to a lawyer and must be treated fairly. Violating a person’s rights can result in evidence being thrown out at trial as fruit of the poisoned tree. During interrogations, interviewers try first to build rapport with their suspect. All interrogations are videotaped.
Holiday Mayhem? Make that Villainous Vacations the new anthology I am proud to be in. Publisher Karen Dryden (2012’s Nefarious North) is back with a 2016 collection sure to please everyone. From horror to horses, shape-shifting to high school madness, romantic frissons and thrilling suspense, these tale will delight and intrigue. For this fun collection I abandoned my Police Procedural hat for a nail-biting tale about a girl on beach. Psst. Book Launch Sunday, June 12 at 2 p. m. at Sleuth of Baker Street, Toronto. Everyone welcome.
Tomorrow I will be back with my third article on police procedurals.
Police Procedurals − think Inspector Banks or John Rebus or books by Henning Mankell − focus on crime, investigation and verdicts. They are one of the most popular genres of genre fiction with readers and writers.
RCMP Sergeant Patrice Poitevin shared his expertise after 32 years on the force at the Ad Astra SciFi and Fantasy Conference last weekend. For those who couldn’t be there, some tips from his Police Procedural 101.
- Accuracy brings your story to life. Get the details right. Don’t do anything to pull your reader from the story. Sgt. Poitevin takes a personal interest. His wife Linda Poitevin writes a paranormal detective series as well as romance novels.
- Forensic Science, including DNA, can be the key to proving guilt or innocence. Chain of custody is important. Evidence gathered at the crime scene must be carefully managed to prevent contamination. That’s why you see the forensics unit in full body covering. Extraneous visitors including bigwigs are kept away by whoever is running the scene who could be the cop on patrol who found the crime.
- The CSI Effect drives real detectives crazy. “It doesn’t happen as fast as on CSI. It doesn’t happen in an hour.” Juries expect things to be as simple as on TV. “ DNA sequencing takes 48-72 hours. They have to grow it in the lab to test sufficiently.”And though big police force in major centres have their own labs others rely on Ontario’s Centre of Forensic Sciences lab in Toronto. The forensic material backs up the giving of evidence in court. The CSI Effect − that cases get solved in an hour − can affect the jury’s perception of the case put forward, and the evidence.
- Basic police work – asking questions – is critical. Without that, the scientific evidence is no help.
Tomorrow − Investigative Techniques
Police Procedurals −2 Weapons, Cop Talk and Five Inch Heels
From the Police Procedural panel at Ad Astra Sci-Fi and Fantasy Conference in Toronto last week, here are more of RCMP Sgt. Pat Poitevin’s tips.
- Make sure you choose the right ones. Ask the force you are dealing with. The RCMP uses Smith and Wesson, another force might have Glocks. Find out.
- A good way to build reality into your characters is to have your cops make jokes. Sgt. Poitevin says cops have a wicked, twisted sense of humour. They use colourful language to blow off steam from the distressing scenes they have witnessed. They make jokes to handle stress. One way to make your story real is to have your characters get in some sarcastic humour.
- Investigators dress in appropriate business attire. They are professionals.And no, female investigators do not wear five inch heels to run after a suspect. Men will be in suits, women in suits or other business-casual clothes.
This survey on mystery readers includes an interesting segment on connecting with younger readers.
The kitchen is tidy. Dishwasher and new cupboards are in, 1930s sink is out. Now, what about the novel? Amazed and dismayed to see it is over a year since I touched it. Thirteen months, 25 days and 15 hours to be precise. Fellow procrastinators look no further. This has to be the worst case. Almost done, I thought, 13 months, 25 days and 15 hours ago. But family situations interrupted…
That’s my excuse. What’s your excuse for:
– tanking the novel,
Winter white kitchen works in summer too
– ‘forgetting’ to go to the gym,
– or to change your diet, your hair, your home
– or to mend fences with family and friends
– or look for a better job?
13 months, 25 days, 15 hours and thirty minutes. I’m done with excuses. What about you?
I’m over the moon this morning. Just checked my email and discovered Jack Batten gave “The Whole She-Bang 2” the short story collection I am in a great review (The Toronto Star, December 28, 2014.) This follows last week’s good review by Margaret Cannon in The Globe and Mail, December 20.
Wow!She-Bang is two for two.
The Whole She-Bang 2 Scores with Critics