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 . Vanessa Keir . Tonya Kappes . Julie Rowe . Joni M Fisher . Leslie Langtry

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?

3 comments:

Anne Marie Becker said...

Oh, I love the John Douglas books. Fascinating reading, and I used them while researching my Mindhunters series. My uncle was part of the forensic team that tested the scraping patterns of hundreds of screwdrivers to find the one that was used to break into an apartment to help catch the Gainsville Ripper by matching it to a screwdriver he possessed.

Rita said...

I think criminals appear smart at first. And they think they’re smarted than everyone else. They aren’t. Brilliant dedicated people, like Anne’s uncle will find them. That’s why I like reading these kinds of stories, real and fictional, because of the good guys. One reason the Harry Bosch series appeals to me.

jean harrington said...

Truman Capote's In Cold Blood leaps to mind. His fascination with the case and, ultimately, with one of the killers, is also a story in and of itself. Actually, the true stories have sparked ideas for my own mysteries. Remember the mother who drowned her two little boys by leaving them strapped in her car and driving it into a lake? (Don't want to leave here to research her name); she was found out through the use of a polygraph test. That triggered the lie detector scene I used in The Monet Murders. And in the last book of the series, The Design Is Murder, handwriting analysis is the tool that my sleuth uses in her search for the killer. I guess it comes down to whatever genre we write in, there is an autobiographical thread running through it.

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