Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Researching the Suspense Novel

As I said last week, I love to do research. I do most of it via the internet but occasionally someone will recommend a book and I find that having the book in hand helps tremendously. So I want to share with you some books that I have recently discovered, borrowed or bought and have been using like crazy. I learned about some these books from a crimescene writers loop that I'm on and some from other writer friends.

The first is titled, Police Procedure and Investigation: A guide for writers, by Lee Lofland. This is a terrific, easy to grasp and usable book that brings a realness to the suspense aspect of a story. This book covers not only the procedural aspects of a crime but gives insight in to ways to bring the dry details of a suspense thread to life, from the crime, the investigation to the trial. I highly recommend this book.

The second book I've recently aquired and am now starting to read through is not for the faint at heart. The title, Practical Homicide Investigation: Tactic, Procedures and Forensic Techniques: Fourth Edition by Vernon Geberth, is a no nonsense guide that is used by law enforcement agencies throughout the country. Though not written for writers, this book is easy to follow with detailed analayze for a processing a crime. But a word of caution, there are gruesome pictures and accounts of crimes that made my stomach roll. I thought I was pretty desensitized by TV and movies, but not so.

Another book that I've used for a book that I recently wrote was WITSEC:Inside the Witness Protection Program by Pete Earley and Gerald Shur (the Founder of WITSEC). This book gave a glimpse into the life of the witness which for my purposes was exactly what I need. The book provided the procedural aspects of the US Marshals service that gave my book realism.

Of course you can do all the research in the world and have the details spot on, but if the characters aren't believable, then nothing else matters.

Next week I'll talk about building believable characters.


Lee Lofland said...

Thanks for the kind words about my book. I'm pleased that you've found it helpful. Let me know if I can answer any of your questions.

Lee Lofland
Police Procedures and Investigation, A Guide For Writers

Cara Putman said...

Thanks so much for the list. I've added these books to my wish list. The crazy books suspense writers need!