Book Review – The Crime Writer’s Casebook
Nothing to do with the IASD this time, but something that might well be of use/help to our members as well as all Indie writers who write Crime & Detective, ‘Whodunnits,’ or anything really that’s likely to feature a police presence at some point. Given that my own writing doesn’t require a comprehensive knowledge of police procedures (at least not yet) it’s difficult for me to write this review with any real authority so I’d be interested to hear from or see some reviews from those who actually write in the genre. I would say though from the information publically available about the authors, both appear eminently well qualified to collaborate on such a book.
As I stress in the main review, this book is written from a UK perspective with primarily the UK market in mind which is why I won’t be posting the said review on the .com site.
For anyone interested in writing or reading crime, whether historical or modern day, this book is an essential reference companion.
In addition to detailed information on police and criminal procedures, the book features true crime case studies from two leading experts in their field.
A Reference Guide to Police Investigation Past and Present
Stephen Wade & Stuart Gibbon
It took me a little longer to read this than I thought but it was well worth the effort. The first thing to stress is that this book is written from a UK perspective so isn’t likely to be of too much use to anyone writing the next Sam Spade or Columbo type book. I was afraid that it might read like a dusty old academic lawbook, the sort Judges keep by the side but thankfully that’s not the case; divided into fourteen easily digestible chapters, each divided under various useful sub-headings this book packs a lot of comprehensive but relatively easy to understand information.
Given the popularity of Murder Whodunnit type Mysteries, I was pleased to see the first chapter is an examination of the Murder victim and Scene of Crime, especially since that’s often the starting point for many a great story.
This book won’t tell you exactly what or how to write or give you formulaic step by step instructions on how to deal with police methodology in your story but what it does do, and really well I might say is provide lots of guidance on many of the essential elements to think about in any given scrime scenario, little areas of detail such as all the different experts that might be called to assist in an investigation that could easily be overlooked (or not even thought of by the writer), and of course accurate terminology and a general outline of police procedure. Throughout the book, the authors provide relevant case studies to accompany and illustrate their own thoughts and narrative, enabling the prospective Crime/Detective writer to craft an authentic story either now or at any time in the past, and for anyone writing in the Victorian era there’s an interesting account in chapter 14 ‘A Victorian Policeman’s Lot’ of policing and the resources available at the time as well as lots of miscellaneous but invaluable detail to give authenticity to a story set in that era.
As well as the fourteen specific chapters outlining everything from the initial crime/murder scene and investigative processes through to the many lines of enquiry and tools at the Detective’s disposal there follows an excellent reference section, also divided under various useful sub-headings, and again for the more ‘historical’ writer, an A-Z of Legal terms for historical fiction reference.
I would also say the book is well laid out and easy on the eye in its presentation, something that’s rarely an issue in regular fiction but for a reference book, such details can often mean the difference between a dull and laborious book and one that is kept as an essential research aid. Related to what I’ve just said, whilst I am happy to read regular fiction on my Kindle when it comes to reference books, especially ones for writing that are likely to get a lot of use I find having a physical copy to hand far more useful than having to mess about with an E-reader. In this particular case, given that the difference in price between the eBook and paperback is less than five pounds I would highly recommend the paperback version.
More about the authors:
Stuart Gibbon: Stuart Gibbon is well qualified to collaborate on a book such as this having served over years as a policeman, many of those years as a Detective. During that time he has been centrally involved in the investigative processes of numerous categories of crimes including rape, serious assault and robbery, eventually qualifying as a Senior Investigation Officer in a number of Murder cases. On the writing side, he now acts as a writing consultant, including to the to the Crime Writers Association, advising authors on police procedure and investigation to ensure authentic accuracy in their portrayal of such things. Additional information about Stuart Gibbon’s life and career can be found in the book’s introduction.
Steven Wade: Stephen Wade was born in Leeds and educated at the universities of Wales and Leeds. He taught in further and higher education for many years, and this was followed by six years as a writer working in prisons. He also lectures part-time at the University of Hull. Having written over fifty books, mainly in non-fiction, Stephen Wade is equally well qualified to collaborate on such a book. Over the years he has become a specialist in crime history and biography. Again, much more additional information about Stephen Wade can be found in the opening introduction
See Stephen Wade’s Amazon author page for his full catalogue of work …