NOT YOUR USUAL SUSPECTS

A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

We find our genre delightfully, dangerously, and deliciously exciting - join us here, if you do too!


Julie Moffet . Clare London . Cathy Perkins . Jean Harrington . Daryl Anderson . Nico Rosso . Maureen A. Miller . Sandy Parks . Lisa Q Mathews . Sharon Calvin . Lynne Connolly . Janis Patterson

Friday, May 29, 2015

Research and Other Killers

by Janis Patterson
I don’t care how hard you research your facts, how meticulously you look things up, you’re going to miss something. And once the book is out someone will call you on it. Sometimes someone will call you on it even if you’re right.

Sigh.

Research is necessary to make your book as true to life as possible – and that is important. Writers who ignore facts show their readers an insulting disrespect.

However, sometimes no amount of research turn up the facts that you need. Until lately I have been working on a mystery set in 1916 New Orleans called A KILLING ON BASIN STREET. Now most of the things I need to know are fairly easy to find – New Orleans history and WWI are well-documented. Some things, though, are not. One of them is whether the 1916 Jordan Sport Marine automobile started with a self-starter (a dashboard button not too different from what we have today) or with a crank. I need it to start with a self-starter, but no one – and I mean NO ONE – seems to know which. I’ve talked to car enthusiasts and classic car clubs and professional organizations both in the US and abroad. No one knows. 1916-17-18 were the years of transition from cranks to self-starters, but I cannot pin down a date for the Jordan Sport Marine.

I’ve been asked why I just don’t change the automobile to something which I can verify, but I don’t want to. The Jordan Sport Marine was a wonderful, ground-breaking car which wouldn’t look bad on today’s highways, and which is the perfect car for my heroine to have, both cost and image-wise. Sigh. Anyway, I have solved the problem and, like many of my betters, will take refuge in obfuscation. I have put in that the car my heroine drives is ‘an advanced experimental model.’ Remember, weasel-words are our friends!

I will admit that I sometimes take research perhaps a mite too far. I said I had been working on A KILLING ON BASIN STREET until recently. It immediately got pushed to the back seat when an opportunity came to visit and actually stay at the dig house on an Egyptian archaeological excavation. Civilians NEVER get invited to stay at a dig house. First of all, the director (my dear friend Dr. Dirk Huyge) had to get permissions for us from two branches of the Egyptian government – the Ministry of Antiquities in Cairo and the Aswan Governate.

Dirk and I had been chatting sporadically about doing a mystery set at the dig house, and I had a plot in mind. So, when he asked, The Husband and I went. (Duh!)  Being there made all the difference. I had seen pictures of the house, and read about it, but the reality was totally different than my imaginings. Now when I write on A KILLING AT EL KAB (and I’m over 20,000 words in) in my mind I can actually walk the halls again, sit on the terraces and watch the timeless Nile flow by, and see all the archaeologists hard at work. It’s not as good as actually being there, but it’s still wonderful. And real.


And I don’t have any illusions that there won’t be someone who tells me I am wrong about something. It’s inevitable.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

THE ART OF CONNING


 I’m always interested to learn about occupations as you never know when a character may materialize. Throw in money, scams and Florida, and you have a very interesting story.
Recently, I attended a meeting of the local Mystery Writers to listen to author, private investigator and a former federal probation officer Rory J. McMahon speak on financial fraud. He served on the Special Offender Unit that supervised special career criminal offenders on probation. Among those criminals Mr. McMahon kept tabs on was a man he considered to be the grandfather of the advanced fee scheme and the mastermind of a legendary con detailed in the 1973 book ‘Fountain Pen Conspiracy’.  

After noting that Fort Lauderdale remains the ‘Con Man’s Capital’, McMahon discussed offshore banking schemes and the legendary Bank of Sark (that was actually set up on the Island of Guernsey).  Now one wouldn’t think a 3 mile long island off the coast of England with a population of six hundred people would figure in a $100 million+ rip-off of banks and companies around the world, but then again a ring of high school friends from St. Louis in the late 1960’s managed to pull off it off for a number of years.   

The con? The men rented a  third floor room above a hairdresser shop and set up a desk with a phone, a fax machine and a lot of expensive stationary.  There the fraudsters sold forged letters of credit to other con men along with Certificates of Deposit or loan certificates to banks and companies, all based on a certified but very false balance statement reflecting bank assets of $172 million.
Mr. McMahon also discussed other advanced fee schemes. While there are scads of variations of the con, at the core is a scam where money is given for services the promoter has no attention of providing. Ever get an email where the sender is looking to send his money to U.S. but needs the recipient to fork up a small sum in good faith? That’s an advance fee scam.

Another example happened several years ago in Florida when the legal community was rocked by a scam that entailed selling investors on settlements that were in the works with a guaranteed rate of return.

My takeaway was the common trait among most of the infamous swindlers is they are charmers. However, the good ones are also pragmatic. The mastermind of the Bank of Sark purportedly used one P.O. Box for his numerous, simultaneous cons for why have many boxes when want one will do just as well. The fraudsters also watch their start-up costs. The Bank of Sark’s initial outlay was a third-floor room, a phone, a fax, an accountant paid off to certify the bank’s assets and first-rate stationary.
For a federal probation officer, I’d venture to say a healthy dose of skepticism and a ‘no nonsense’ attitude are useful traits for the character. When he learned of the death of the infamous scam artist in South Florida in the early 2000’s, Mr. McMahon wanted to see the body.  Since he didn’t get to see it, he was willing to bet the con artist is actually still alive, on an island somewhere, running scams over the telephone.
What interesting careers/jobs have you learned about recently?

J Carol Stephenson


***These notes are my own recollection/interpretation of the presentation and any errors are mine.**

 

 

Monday, May 25, 2015

HOW MUCH DO YOU REALLY KNOW ABOUT MEMORIAL DAY?

By Sandy Parks

Every year Memorial Day comes and goes. As a military family, we’ve celebrated in different ways over the years, but I rarely paused to think about the history behind the day or how it has changed over the years. And, yes, there have been changes, right up to the year 2000 when Congress passed THE NATIONAL REMEMBRANCE ACT. Huh, what’s that you say?

This act “encourages people of the United States to give something back to their country, which provides them so much freedom and opportunity.” Why do we need reminding? Are our newer generations forgetting how we’ve been able to keep our freedoms?

The truth is, whether older or newer generations, as soon as we settle into a comfortable life, we often forget about those who have fought on home soil or around the world for our beliefs. Back in 1918, my great-grandfather Lincoln Hubbard, a lawyer (and judge), wrote this in an essay while America was embroiled overseas in World War I: “If your nostrils have become so accustomed to the sweet air of liberty that you no longer appreciate it, if you have come to regard true equality before the law as commonplace, you have also forgotten the MEANING OF AMERICA.” Right on great-grandpa!

Ever wonder why newspapers and radio stations suggest a pause at 3pm on Memorial Day? The National Remembrance Act asked for a minute of silence at that hour to honor those who died in service to the nation. The Veterans of Foreign Wars also suggests that the flag should be flown at half-staff during morning hours, and at noon brought back to full staff.

Now let’s hit some of the historical details to uncover a few other common ways we celebrate today. Although there appears to have been many smaller local and even state events in 1866 and on, where women and children decorated graves of the fallen and covered them in flowers, the first official national day was celebrated on May 30, 1868 at Arlington National Cemetery. May 30 was chosen because the Union Veterans who set it up believed flowers would be in bloom everywhere in the nation (tell that to people up north who had snow fall this weekend). They draped in black General Lee’s former mansion (which had become part of the cemetery) and graced all the graves of soldiers from both sides of the Civil War with flowers. In the early years and even today, the remembrance is also called DECORATION DAY, the name my mom claimed her family called it when she was young.

On a side note, through the ages there must have been quite some “claim to fame” as the first place to celebrate Memorial Day, because I discovered in 1966 Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, New York as the birthplace of the remembrance.

As our country became involved in more wars (particularly with WWI), the day was expanded to honor all who had died in American wars. But when did we start getting the day off? Congress passed an act in 1971 calling for a national holiday. They placed it on the last Monday in May (most federal holidays are on Monday). On the average from the first national Memorial Day celebration at Arlington National Cemetery to today, about 5,000 people attend each year. Today small flags are placed on each grave.

Why do many towns and cities have parades and why did those come about? Tradition. President Andrew Johnson (Lincoln had just died) decided to honor those who served and died in the Civil War. On a morning in May 1865, soldiers marched through Washington DC to show their support.

So don’t forget:
- Fly flags at half staff until noon
- Take a minute of silence at 3pm
- Flowers and/or flags on veterans’ graves
- Take in a parade if your local area has one
- And find a special way to honor the memory of those who have died in service to the nation


Don’t let the day become one big picnic without remembering to put the DECORATION/MEMORIAL back in MEMORIAL Day.

Friday, May 22, 2015

FICTION AND FURNITURE


Most authors aren’t closet writers.  We want to have our books “out there” reaching as wide an audience as possible.  For that, as we all know, we need PR.  Good ol’ word of mouth, five star reviews (I’ll take four!), book signings, book club talks, blogs like this one, social media chitchat, in short anything to bring our work to the public eye.

 So when an innovative PR idea surfaces, why not grab for the gold ring?  One such golden PR opportunity came to me through a furniture store.  That’s right, a furniture store. 

 Here’s how it worked:  The store, co-sponsored by a local book seller and benefiting a local charity, created what they called a Writer’s Domain Event.  Ten writers were invited to participate and each was “nestled” in his/her personal “domain.”  These domains were scattered throughout the store, so as customers wandered around looking at mattresses and dining room tables and leather sofas, they “bumped into” the various authors.

 
After I answered some questions about what my writing environment was like, a “domain” was created for me that included a dining room table with a coffee service at one end, a wine bottle and stemmed glasses on the other, a vase of fresh roses and a leather-bound notebook.  Who couldn’t create, or at least daydream, in a spot like that?

 The Writers Domain event was well publicized in the local press, through ads and feature articles.  An evening cocktail party kicked off the celebration, and on Saturday afternoon, the general public was welcome.  Very welcome.  All books were sold by the book dealer, not the individual authors, which kept us free to meet people and talk about our latest releases.

 True, my Murders by Design Mystery Series features an amateur sleuth who is also an interior designer, so my stories fit the setting very well.  But fellow authors included writers of police forensic cases, sci-fi thrillers, a study of Caribbean architecture, a YA romance.  In other words,  any book would lend itself to an event of this type.


All you need is a local store—any good-sized retailer with significant foot traffic will do—and suggest a similar idea.  If you have books to sell, fine; if you don’t, give visitors to your “domain” postcards, book marks, pens, note pads, anything that publicizes your novels.
 
Furniture and books?  A new odd couple?  Perhaps.  But as I found out the easy way,  they do cohabit well together.
 
 
 
 


 
 

 

 

 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Building a Character—One Trait at a Time


In the midst of edits for book two of my Gulf Coast Rescue series, I’m revisiting some of my secondary characters with a critical eye. Is that character trait realistic? Is it the right trait?
With each book I write, my character development process is as varied as my plots. What worked for the last book doesn’t resonate for this one. I can’t decide if that is a good thing or not, but I have discovered a lot of ways to explore personalities and traits until I find the right combination for that particular character.
My villain, hero, and heroine receive the most attention since they tend to have the most “page” time. They also tend to be created from a combination of sources. I’ve melded traits from Myers-Briggs Type Indicator tests, archetypes (The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes & Heroines by Cowden, LaFever, and Viders), personality types (Writer’s Guide to Character Traits by Edelstein), birth signs and numerology (The Power of Birthdays, Stars, & Numbers by Crawford and Sullivan), and of course psychological studies (50 Psychology Classics by Butler-Bowdon) to name a few of my most common go to books. Another fun source is Enneagrams (from the Enneagram Institute). I attended a workshop on Enneagrams and have these very handy cards and decoder to help me pull together character traits. I especially like how they include healthy, average, and unhealthy traits for each personality. Because we all know, even our heroes have flaws, just as a villain can have a redeeming quality.
Enneagram Decoder
Enneagram Cards

 

 











One of my concerns when creating a character is how realistic those traits are. Some traits are simply incompatible. You can’t be a true extrovert one moment and an introvert in another. You could only share some traits in the middle (since they are a continuum), but if you are on one end or the other, you won’t. I also don’t want to create a character that looks and sounds like a dozen others. I may see similarities in the people I meet, but they are always unique—and I want all of my characters to be unique too. Even my secondary ones.

So, do you have any favorite characters? What characteristics make them memorable to you?

Monday, May 18, 2015

I haven't written much lately...

Years ago, a friend sent me this postcard and it never fails to make me smile. 



The truth is, I haven’t done much writing lately. When I had a day job, I’d dash to my desk and write as soon as I had a spare ten minutes. These days I have the luxury of being a full-time writer and I can - in theory - write all day. In theory. 

What I’ve lost, however, is my ability to dash to the desk and write for ten minutes. These days, I need a clear day. If I have an hour’s appointment in the middle of the day, that’s it. No writing done at all. 

Spookily, although I can’t write unless I have at least six uninterrupted hours stretching ahead of me, I can read. Boy, can I read! Give me a spare five minutes and out comes the Kindle, and the more books I get through, the more emails I receive from Amazon UK. Often they send me recommendations for my own books, which is great as they must be sending that same email to other customers. (Hopefully.) It was one of these emails that took me by surprise. This is probably old news  to all of you because I’m hopelessly behind the times but when I click on one of my Dylan Scott books on Amazon UK, I get offered the chance to buy all 8 books in the series. It lists all books in order too. How fantastic is that?




(Apologies for the naff screenshots.) Is this old news? 


Oh, and all tips for parking myself in front of my computer when I get a spare ten minutes will be gratefully received. Thank you. :)

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Mousetrap--a night to die for!


April was a busy month. First, my second novel Death at China Rose was published.  I barely had time to catch my breath, before my husband and I were off to Europe. Our first stop was Paris, where Steve ran the Paris Marathon while I somehow managed to keep busy drinking Bordeaux and sampling French cheeses. 
After a week or so of la bonne vie, we took the Chunnel train to London. I switched from French wine to English beer and got ready for The Mousetrap.

As every true mystery fan knows, Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap holds the record for longest running play in the world, on stage since 1952, which adds up to over 25,000 performances. Seeing a production of The Mousetrap is on a lot of bucket lists, but it's never been on mine. This is mainly because I don't have a bucket list--I've never bought into the concept of delayed gratification--but also because I wasn't sure the play was still fresh enough to entertain. 

I mean, after 63 years everything gets a little creaky. 

But when our brief overlay in London coincided with a Saturday night performance of The Mousetrap, I knew I had to be there. 

Built in 1901, the cozy St. Martin's Theater is the perfect venue for a classic murder mystery. The interior is somehow both intimate and elegant, an Edwardian feast of burnished woods and heavy burgundy curtains flecked with gold. I overheard a woman complaining about the tight seating, but that is the price of communing with the past--a small price, in my view.

But as they say, the play's the thing, and in this classic who-done-it, Dame Agatha didn't disappoint.

Writing a mystery is a bit like juggling, only instead of balls, you're juggling suspects. The writer strives to keep as many suspects in play as possible so that the reader--or viewer--is never quite sure who the killer is, until the last possible moment. But as the plot grows in complexity, it becomes more and more difficult to keep everything moving--inevitably balls are dropped or discarded as the suspect pool shrinks.

The Mousetrap is a closed mystery. Because of a severe winter storm, the seven characters--along with the intrepid Detective Sergeant Trotter--are marooned at a guesthouse. One of them is a murderer, but which one?

Until the play's closing moments, any one of the suspects could have been the killer--that's the equivalent of juggling seven balls over two hours.

Believe me, that's a lot of balls! As a mystery writer, I can only stand back in awe.

So maybe The Mousetrap is old-school. And maybe it creaks with the conventions of an earlier time. But all the elements that made Agatha Christie great are in this play.

So take my advice, and put it on your bucket list.

Or even better, just hop the next plane to London.

Visit Daryl at her website and blogspot.

In this swamp of double-dealing, almost everyone has an agenda.

When Harry Pitts—owner of the rundown China Rose Fish Camp—is beaten to death in his home, the bloody scene suggests a frenzied, random act of violence. But PI Addie Gorsky believes the crime is connected to another case—the disappearance of Harry's daughter eleven years ago.

All murders begin in the past, but Addie soon realizes that this case is rooted in old Florida, back in the time of wily pirates and proud conquistadors, and the trove of treasure that legend claims is buried in this backwater.

Addie dives headfirst into the wild heart of China Rose, surrounded by grinning gators, killer bees and gaping cottonmouths. But these predators pale in comparison to the cunning two-legged killer Addie is hunting…and who soon begins hunting her.
Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Carina Press.

Guarding the manicured wilds of an exclusive retirement community might seem like exile to a homicide cop. But Addie Gorsky moved to Florida to live with her ailing father, not to chase criminals. In fact, her new job as head of Mystic Cove security is a nice break from all the big-city bloodshed.

But when the community's most despised resident is found dead in his tricked-out golf cart, Addie's ready for action. The local cops focus on the obvious suspect—the unhappy wife—but Addie knows there's more to the story. When the sheriff asks for assistance, she can't resist. Only the deeper she digs, the more questions she turns up.

Surrounded by secretive, tight-lipped residents, Addie soon finds herself hip-deep in a mystery as tangled as cypress roots—and directly in the sights of a cool, clever killer who has no compunction about killing again…

Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Carina Press.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Setting - Your Own Backyard



They say 'write what you know.' As for setting, that usually means placing a story in my home state of Florida. For two of my favorite romantic suspense novels, that's exactly what I did. Not that I haven't taken steps out of my comfort zone and set stories in The Unites Arab Emirates, London, different US locales, but my setting of choice is always the Sunshine State.

Not only am I the most comfortable writing about Florida, but because I live in one of the vacation capitals of the world, I think people are interested in that setting. At least, I hope they are.

Several of my books are set in the hustle and bustle of Miami, but I've taken many out of the limelight and relocated them to the lesser known areas of the state, the northern, swampy part, which lends itself to creepier, and paranormal stories.

I rarely locate books in my hometown of Orlando, but BURNING TOUCH is one exception. I was looking for a wealthy bedroom community that would be close to an area that harbored a seedy underbelly of BDSM nightclubs. Welcome to Winter Park, Florida, right next door to Orlando, where one can find any flavor of perversion.

Yeah, it's that kind of book!

TROPIC OF TROUBLE takes place in Miami, and revolves around a valuable stolen Shakespeare volume and a bookworm in distress.

Both best-selling suspense novels are now bundled in one volume. BURNING TOUCH and TROPIC OF TROUBLE are together for $2.99.


Here's a little about BURNING TOUCH:

When Devon Wise’s massage clients start turning up dead, she reluctantly leans on the sexy guy next door to help her clear her name. Having lost her parents at an early age, she doesn’t trust that anyone she cares about will stick around. Devon never lets her feelings get involved, keeping everyone at arm’s length. But after their first sizzling night, she can’t get enough.


Real estate investor Ben Stafford can’t keep his mind—or his hands—off the earthy beauty who happens to be his new neighbor. When the bodies begin piling up, he wonders if she’s as innocent as she claims or if he’s been spending all those lust-filled nights with a killer.

And here's a little about TROPIC OF TROUBLE:

When Kelsey Ackerman’s assistant at her used bookstore is murdered, the police label it a botched robbery by a desperate drug addict. But Kelsey suspects the perpetrator was looking for a rare Shakespeare volume that someone unknowingly donated. Now a killer’s sights are set on Kelsey.


Jail guard Jason Jones only wants to protect her, but after suffering a controlling father and an abusive ex-husband, Kelsey wants nothing to do with the confident, hot sergeant. Until the danger becomes crystal clear, and the only man who can save her is the very man she can’t resist.

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Killer You Don't Think About.


Villains come in all shapes and sizes. But when you think about it, one of the scariest villains never dies. Any idea what I’m talking about?

Natural disasters.

Earthquakes aren’t the only killers. Tornadoes, tsunamis, typhoons, cyclones, volcanoes… The list goes on. When I was thinking about the kind of villain I wanted to tackle for my Adrenaline Highs novella, A Little Danger, I wanted to make sure I gave the bad guy his due. The recent earthquake in Nepal is a frightening example of the devastation. The aftershocks alone made for sizeable earthquakes in their own right. 

Here's a shot from the bay area earthquake many years ago:
 Disasters are certainly good for external conflict, but I think there still needs to be an internal conflict. The one thing about a disaster is that they make you realize what’s important in life and just how fragile our lives really are. It can all go away in the blink of an eye. The characters in this story were reminded of that fact in a very scary way.
I’ve been trying to come up with disaster movies where the villain was a natural disaster. The Perfect Storm, for instance, or Earthquake (naturally). I know the upcoming San Andreas with Dwayne Johnson looks like a doozie. Can you think of any others?  I’m curious what your thoughts are about using natural disasters as the bad guy, too.

In case you're interested in checking out A Little Danger, now's the time to grab it for 99 cents before the price goes up.

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo | ARe
 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

CHOICES



Photo courtesy of Americasroof at en.wikipedia

     In High School—many long years ago—I had to make a decision. If a student’s grades were high enough, he or she could take a special English class that either focused on theatre or writing. I offered to drop math in return for both classes but for reasons I could never understand my offer was refused. After a heated debate with myself I opted for theatre and never regretted my decision. Years later when I was singing at Radio City Music Hall I thought wouldn’t the Music Hall be a perfect setting for a play and between shows I began to jot down bits of dialogue, incidents that took place in the dressing room, anything that seemed possible in a small notebook which led to ... which led to ... which led to ... well here I am.

Courtesy of Dreamstime

     During rehearsals for shows I realized methods used in theatre could be applied when writing. When I write, I think of the protagonist as the star of my story in conflict with the antagonist who has his own motivation and tries to find his or her place in the spotlight. Most actors work on their motivation for hours, some for weeks, many for the entire run of a play. There’s a hoary theatre story about the actor who asks the director what his motivation is for making an exit. The director replies, “Your paycheck.”
     Actors improvise and often add a line or two or three; if the director disagrees with the actor’s “improvement.” The lines are cut unless the actor is a star in which case the stage manager tears out strands of her hair. My characters often develop minds of their own. I begin with an idea of what the characters should do, why they’re doing it, what stands in the characters way and what the story and the theme is about. Then, sometimes without any warning, my characters decide they want to go in another direction. My villain doesn’t want to be my villain anymore, an unlikely heroine emerges, pages and chapters need to be revised or cut. I may fight to keep my original idea but my characters are stubborn and after a sleepless night I think—maybe they’re right and try it their way.
     Some actors work from the inside out—motivation, background, and the reason why he is crossing from stage left to stage right. Others change their hair until they find the one that fits their character; they may rehearse with a long skirt, grow a mustache, walk with a limp, develop a twitch, gain weight or lose a few pounds—anything that will add to their portrayal. An idea, a conversation overheard, someone an author can’t forget begins the process of writing. We also use the senses as we work on the background, the characters, and who, why, what, when and where.
     First drafts are like readings where friends are corralled and the author listens and takes notes—was that a laugh, a tear, a yawn or ... oh, my God ... a cough?
     A director works with the actors, author, scenic and costume designer sometimes harmoniously ... sometimes not ... to get the results he wants. The writer works with an editor who will give a gentle push  ... or maybe a not so gentle shove to help the writer find the better book that lies within.
     The Producer of a play or show wants a hit, a chance at a Tony and someday his name on a Marquee. A Publisher doesn’t mind his books listed on the N.Y. Times Best Seller List and a prestigious award presented to one of his authors is always valued.


Monday, May 4, 2015

True Crime



I recently finished two nonfiction books by John Douglas, a former FBI profiler. It’s rumored that Jodie Foster’s character’s boss in Silence of the Lambs is based on him. His book Mind Hunter details his history in FBI’s profiling unit. 

While the subject matter is often morbid and sad, I admit that every few pages a real-life incident sparks a fictional idea in my mind. It’s not just the realistic killers, but the often innovative ways that they are finally brought to justice. For example, one of Douglas’ colleagues had trouble cracking a triple homicide of a mother and two daughters who were on vacation in Florida. The only promising piece of evidence was a note they found in the victims’ car with directions to the location where their car was found. But the note revealed little else.

The FBI agent blew up the note on billboards, with advertising space that was donated by local businesses, and asked people to call the FBI if they recognized the hand writing. Three people did, and they were able to catch the killer.

Before I read MindHunter, I got caught up in The Casesthat Haunt Us, which analyzes prior cases, such as Jack the Ripper, with modern profiling techniques.  For example, while Jack the Ripper is often “romanticized,” (think suave sociopath), it is likely he was so insane at the point that he committee the murders he would have had difficulty carrying on normal conversations.

I think we’d all agree it’s more “fun” to read fictional mysteries. The evil killers don’t live in our world. The victims didn’t die, because they never lived. But reading true crime, while often disturbing, can also help you craft more authentic stories with more depth. 

What about you? Do you have any true crime books you’d recommend? Do you find reading true crime helps you write fictional stories?

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