Category Archives: Crime Fiction

How To Commit The Perfect Muder ~ on paper

Kristin Durfee

Kristin Durfee

Florida romantic suspense author and my good friend Lynn Rix brought me to the Ponte Vedra Beach Library this morning to hear a lecture designed for mystery writers.

Kristin Durfee [firearms expert, giver of expert court testimony, author] spoke on “How to Commit the Perfect Murder”. She gave this caveat several time, “for literary purposes only.” To which the audience of local Florida writers laughed.

We learned about cartridges, magazines (not the kind you read), calibers, gauges, jackets (not the kind you wear), and full metal jackets. We also learned that $75K will buy you a cheap CSI microscope. Some go for half to three-quarters of a million dollars.

We got all kinds of technical tips for writing murder mysteries with accurate details about the use of firearms. The big tip of the day I got was to do accurate research. Don’t go to some guy who’s in PJs writing about firearms. Google the manufacturers’ website. Go to Smith & Wesson, Colt, Ruger, etc.

Kristin told us about a few weird or strange cases that would be called “unbelievable” by fiction book critics if written in a story, but which were actual criminal cases in life. She said, “Anything you can think up has already probably happened.”

You can follow Kristin on Twitter: @KristinDurfee

 

Moi, Ponte Vedra Beach Lib

Moi @ Ponte Vedra Beach Library

 

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Announcing: DEADLY DESIGNS Release ~ Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels/Dawson Hughes Novel, Book 2

Deadly Designs 1400

DEADLY DESIGNS: Fast paced whodunit, with dry humor. Sweet, romance, warm intimacy, sophisticated themes presented tastefully.

 

*****

 

DEADLY DESIGNS in a nut shell…
Private investigator Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels teams up with Deputy Dawson Hughes to find a geeky radio broadcaster’s missing wife and young daughter. They fear the woman and child were taken by Islamic terrorists as revenge against the husband’s pro-Israel, conspiracy theory broadcasts.

Hughe has recently been promoted to lieutenant in the Taylor County, Texas Sheriff’s Department. He’s on leave on a special assignment with Authorized Operations (AO), a clandestine, quasi-government agency operating out of a sea-side mansion in Hither Hills, NY. The only thing is, many powerful politicians, and government big-wigs claim Authorized Operations doesn’t exist.

Ronnie is furious at both Hughes and the broadcaster for waiting thirty-six hours to start the search. She knows the longer it takes, the less chance there is of finding the child alive. The problem is, radio talk-show host Ed Harper has been hoping-against-hope that his pot-smoking, model wife is on one of her esoteric experiences and has simply taken the child while she romps for a few days. He doesn’t want to seriously consider the other, more hazardous possibility… that his radio broadcasts have angered some very dangerous people.

The investigation takes Ronnie and Hughes from a manicured Connecticut estate, to interviews with an elitist A-List society crowd, and run-ins with cranky local police detectives. Then they plunge deep into the seamy, drug-riddled underbelly of the fashion world, with the specter of international terrorism hovering. All the while they know, the sooner a child is found, the better.

 

Excerpt: from Chapter Two,,,

I rang the bell and a geeky guy with squarish horn-rimmed glasses opened the door. Dawson Hughes stood several feet behind him.

A shadow passed over the man’s eyes and they narrowed. I couldn’t determine if it was confusion, or guilt and remorse. He took a faltering step back. “Um, come in, won’t you?”

I did, and marched directly to Hughes. “We’re thirty-six hours into a missing child case. Why haven’t the police been called?”

Hughes grimaced and held both hands up, palms out, in a stopping stance. “Whoa. Janus Agard notified the authorities over an hour ago.”

“I’m thrilled somebody finally decided to do something. Just who is Janus Agard, and what’s he got to do with the case?”

The nerdy guy stepped toward me, and his head bobbed. “Please, sit down in the living room and I’ll explain everything. Can I get you some coffee?”

“No, on the coffee.” I walked into a room furnished with comfortable, contemporary pieces in beige tones. A watercolor seascape, with a shimmering golden sun sinking below the horizon, hung over the couch. A large swirling, blue-glass bowl, filled with sea shells, graced the coffee table. My best guess was the missing wife had acquired the bowl. It had a feminine feel to it. This was the kind of place a young professional couple, just starting on their career paths, might have.

A man, who had been sitting in an easy chair, rose to his feet. He wore a black tee, relaxed-fit jeans, thick leather boots, and sported an eagle tattoo on his forearm. Light brown hair raised from his forehead, the back ends curling just above the tee’s collar. A leather jacket lay over the arm of the chair he’d just vacated. No doubt this was the owner of the Harley.

He stepped toward me and extended his hand. “Gary Olsen.”

I shook the biker’s hand. “I’m Veronica Ingels, private detective from Cooney Investigations.”

Hughes introduced the geek to me and brought me up to speed on the facts of the case.

“Ronnie, I only found out about Mr. Barton’s missin’ wife and child two hours ago, not two days ago.”

“So, when you say, your boss… this Janus Agard guy… phoned the authorities, that doesn’t necessarily mean he called the local police?”

Hughes nodded. “Good instincts on your part. He phoned someone, who, in turn will notify the Dunst PD.”

I paced back and forth. “How long does it take to make a few phone calls and for the cops to drive across this itsy village and get here?”

Before I could take off on another rant, a black sedan pulled into the drive and two men in suits, who had the look of detectives, got out.

Barton darted for the front door, nearly tripping over his own feet.

I looked at Hughes, then pointed at the husband. “Pretty jumpy, isn’t he?”

“Not unusual with his wife and daughter missing. He’s skittish as a gun-shy dog.” Hughes let out a long sigh.

“Well ‘Suspect 101’ in any police academy puts the husband at the top of the list.”

Hughes shrugged and we walked toward the front door.

Barton let the men into the small foyer.

The tallish, muscular one sported close-cropped hair that was nearly platinum. Not expecting that, with my usual lack of social acumen, I stared and had to tear my gaze away. He wore a black, off-the-rack suit with a white shirt and a red tie that had some kind of dots in it. Him taking an ‘at ease’ stance, gave away he’d been in the military. When he leveled his gaze to scrutinize us one-by-one, I didn’t feel so bad having gawked at him.

The older, shorter, balder one approached Barton. His suit was gray and a bit rumpled. He had a few acne pockmarks on his chin. “I’m Detective Campo. We need to get this investigation moving.” He inclined his head toward his partner. “This here is Detective Quinlan.”
Hughes introduced himself and me.

Campo’s eyes narrowed. He swung around to face Barton. “You hired PIs before you called the police?”

This was not off to a good start.

 

Cover of Book One, HARMFUL INTENT

Harmful Intent 300 P


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DEADLY DESIGNS ~ cover reveal

I’m super excited!!! It’s time to reveal the cover for DEADLY DESIGNS…

Book #2 in the Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels/Dawson Hughes series

Deadly Designs 1400

 

The planned release date is October 4th, 2015.

Private investigator Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels teams up again with Lt. Deputy Dawson Hughes to find a geeky radio broadcaster’s missing wife and young daughter. They fear the woman and child were taken by Islamic terrorists as revenge against a pro-Israel guest host who subbed on the talk show for a week. The investigation takes Ronnie and Hughes to manicured estates, interviewing a snobbish A-List society crowd, as well as to the seamy, drug-riddled underbelly of the fashion world. All the while, the specter of international terrorism hovers.

Ronnie is furious at both Hughes and the broadcaster for waiting two days to start the search. She knows the longer it takes, the less chance there is of finding the child alive. Talk-show host Ed Barton has been hoping-against-hope his pot-smoking, model wife is on one of her esoteric experiences and has simply taken the child while she romps for a few days. He doesn’t want to consider the other, more dangerous possibility…that his radio program has angered some very dangerous people.

Hughes, recently promoted to lieutenant in the Taylor County, Texas Sheriff’s Department, is on leave on a special assignment with Authorized Operations (AO), a clandestine, quasi-government agency operating out of a sea-side mansion on Long Island, NY. The only thing is, many politicians and government big-wigs claim the organization doesn’t exist.

HI Price Reduction $1.99 PP

HARMFUL INTENT, Book One in the Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels/Dawson Hughes detective series

 

 

 

 

Amazon Author Page


When a Crime Fiction Writer Throws ‘Bait and Switch’ at the Reader

Bait

I got an interesting email response to my last post from fellow Christian writer Mary Vee. She stated she hated it when an author broke my “rule #5 for writing detective novels.”

 

Rule #5: The criminal should be introduced early in the story, amidst a field of plausible red herrings.  There’s nothing worse than having the criminal sprung on the reader, out of the blue, at the last minute. There could be more than one culprit. So, secondary culprits can be introduced later. Still, it’s sort of cheating to wait till the very end even for those to be brought into the story line. Don’t want to give the reader a bait-and-switch feeling. Finding out who the killer is at the end ~ good. Introducing the killer at the end ~ bad idea.

My author friend said she’d read several novels that had done that (dropped the killer into the story at the  end and then wrapped it all up neatly) and she disliked them terribly. She felt as if she’d been robbed…cheated. Then she got even stronger saying perhaps “embezzled” was the word she was looking for because the author has set her up and then let her fall.

Tipped Hat

She went on to say that if the clues were there and she got caught banking on the wrong killer, if she got caught in a “red herring snare,” well that was just pure fun. Hats off to the author.


Writing A Detective Novel ~ The Rules

Investigation

 

 

As in life…some rules can safely be broken, others can’t. Determining which is which often demonstrates who is the proficient writer and who is not.

Quite a few of the rules for writing detective stories are similar to those for writing murder mysteries, suspense novels, and thrillers. Others are very different.

BASIC RULES:

1. The story must have a detective, or detective partners as its main character(s). These can be duly sworn police detectives, fire department arson investigators, licensed private investigators, FBI special agents, homeland security investigators and the like, or military police officers of high enough rank to be investigating crimes. They are law enforcement professionals on the case to solve a particular crime or series of crimes.

2. The story must have a victim or victims. Usually there is a dead body, preferably more than one. But the crime could be kidnap, or arson that did not result in murder, or perhaps eco-terrorism resulting in corpses or not. The crime could involve the brutalization or killing of animals (especially if the detective is a park ranger). Most often there is a human murder or murders.

3. The detective story is an intellectual game, much like solving a puzzle or playing chess. There are opponents in this game. The detective is pitted against the criminal. They must be equally matched for it to be a good game. Although the reader knows the detective is going to win, for it to be a compelling story,  it has to feel at times, as if the criminal might triumph over the detective. The criminal must be clever enough to inflict some mental, emotional, and/or physical damage on the detective(s).

4. The old axiom was that the criminal’s identity must be unknown to both the detective(s) and the reader until the very end. This is still largely true. If the criminal’s identity is know the story becomes suspense. Lately, there’s been some line blurring in this area. In the modern market place, many genres have blurry lines.

5. The criminal should be introduced early in the story, amidst a field of plausible red herrings.  There’s nothing worse than having the criminal sprung on the reader, out of the blue, at the last minute. There could be more than one culprit. So, secondary culprits can be introduced later. Still, it’s sort of cheating to wait till the very end even for those to be brought into the story line. Don’t want to give the reader a bait-and-switch feeling. Finding out who the killer is at the end ~ good. Introducing the killer at the end ~ bad idea.

6. The crime should also be introduced at the beginning. It’s been said within the first three chapters. The first chapter is best. Opening up in the very midst of it, helps grab the reader’s attention. The specific crime must fit the criminal’s psyche and personality, and he/she must have had the know-how and ability to commit said crime.

7. Supply plausible and understandable clues that both give hints as to the identity of the criminal, and also clues that point to others who are merely red herrings. Also leave clues as to the motive for the crime(s).

8. In days gone by, it was almost written in stone that the detective story is simply one of detecting, that no social issues must be brought into it and certainly no romance. This is no longer the case. Readers enjoy a detective protagonist with a social conscience, or definite lack thereof. It makes him/her more interesting. In the same way a love interest for the detective often gives her/him an Achilles’ heel which the crafty criminal can take advantage of. The Christian detective story must have inspirational or redemptive elements to it. However, in the detective sub-genre, the overwhelming majority of the plot must be about the protagonist detective(s) detecting and solving the crime(s), or else it’s not a detective story.

9. The crime must not be solved by super-natural or extraordinary means. The criminal can’t be caught via psychic powers, magic, assistance from ghosts, aliens from another planet, or the like. Those scenarios make the story speculative fiction, not a detective story. Although in today’s world, it’s entirely possible to have a spec fic detective story, but that book would not be shelved with detective stories in a book store. Then again, you might hit a bookstore where it would be. Go figure.

Murder


HARMFUL INTENT’s Valentine’s Promo, Done Well!!

IMG_1501

 

 

 

#7 in Kindle Store – Private Investigators

#10 in Kindle Store – Women Sleuths

 

Hope everyone who selected the novel enjoys reading it.


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