Although my novels always have a mystery or a puzzle as a strong part of the narrative, and although the police are occasionally involved, I have never written a police procedural because I simply do not know very much at all about police procedures. All I know is what I’ve read in other novels, or seen on TV and I know that fictional police officers and their investigations are not at all like what happens on the screen. Just recently I read a police procedural book which was patently based on various TV cops and just riddled with ridiculous mistakes and clichés. I read other reviews of it and nearly all said the same.
I haven’t written any ‘amateur sleuth ‘books either – although I guess there are some aspects of that type of story in my Radwinter books. However, when I wrote the first novel it was Thomas Radwinter’s investigation into his family history which was central, and in subsequent books he has investigated domestic puzzles and mysteries – some of which it’s true, have had crime aspects.
Supposing I was to decide to write an ‘amateur sleuth’ novel, who would my main character be? I often think I’d make a good private investigator as although I have lots of lovely friends who all know who I am,. people I meet just casually very rarely remember me. I’ve had conversations with people at interest groups or meetings, or casually in pubs or cafés, and next time I meet them they have no clue who I am. Sometimes they try and bluff, but sooner or later they say something like ‘where did we meet?’ or the classic ‘who did you say you were?’ That makes me have a secret chuckle, as if I used to be different from the person standing there in front of them!
My detective, if ever I invented one, would be anonymous, pleasant, with few or no distinguishing features, a general sort of an accent, neither too smart and fashionable nor too tatty and old-fashioned,someone who’d blend into the crowd. However one key feature would be the ability to converse – asking and listening more than to telling – and definitely not interrupting except to prompt, nor mounting a hobby horse and galloping the conversation off into their own direction! My PI would be sympathetic, emphatic, interested but not interrogating or pressing points. They would also be totally discrete and things they heard or learnt would never be repeated only remembered and maybe used to further their investigation.
Now what would their name be,,,
My featured image is of a PI conflab – you would pass any of these ladies in the street, chat to them at a bus stop, sit beside them on a long train journey (in the days when you could sit beside strangers) and later you’d probably even forget that you’d passed/chatted/sat beside anyone!
In case you haven’t read my Radwinter books, here is a link: