Researching For Your Novel: Get the Facts From the Best Source Available

I have written before in this blog about my interest in writing a murder mystery for my next novel. The general idea is all there but now I have to piece together how a crime plays out and how the solution is found. I was willing to bet a high cost it wasn’t always easy and sometimes the bad guy got away. But when I’m reading a novel I know I want the bad guy to be caught. I also know I want some adventure and intense moments leading up to the capture of the criminal. Without a clue where to start I knew it was time to study.

In high school we learn how to gather up information to write up our reports or give a presentation. It’s all done pretty routinely and easy to figure out once we’ve done it a couple times. But when I started trying to dig up the information about criminals and investigations I learned there was going to be a lot more work called from my research than the other pieces I have written. I figured the best way to research the facts was to go straight towards the people who have worked a case before and get their rundown of how things played out. I went online and checked out a book from my local library to read on my phone or iPad. I was thrilled I found a book with the information I was looking for right away.

The novel was pretty intense and had me reading through the paragraphs as quickly as I could take it all in. The events the woman shared with her readers were insane. It seemed as if she proved again and again how guilty certain criminals were but none of the officers on the cases would listen to her words or her suggestions. Their blindness towards her solutions shocked me because it was obviously all there. It was then that I began to worry about how often our FBI agents let the bad guy go. But before I let my astounded feelings go too far I chose to look more into the novel. I needed to learn about the author and her full story.


The novel I read was called The Profiler: My Life Hunting Serial Killers and Psychopaths by Pat Brown with Bob Andelman. The research I completed quickly revealed Pat Brown to be a bored woman shooting in the dark.

She had no prior training with profiling a criminal or any other being for that matter. Pat Brown appeared to be a woman bored at home looking for nothing more than a little thrill. Here are some quotes from reviews posted on Goodreads about the novel itself.

  • “Rarely have I ever read such a self serving ego centric book, I am astonished this book got published.” -Neil
  • “Anyone who uses an appearance on the Montel Williams show to establish credibility and expertise is not worth your time or money.” -Ashley
  • “Don’t waste your time with this book! This writer has an ego the size of New York City. She was all-knowing, while those around her, including the police and some victims families, were misdirected and ignorant.” -Naomi
  • “Not very well written, and the author seems to suffer from the same narcissism and god complex she accuses her (better educated and trained) colleagues of being hindered by.” -Julie

Those are only four reviews of the several reviews talking down the author and her novel. I hate to be the bitch, but they are entirely correct. The novel was written more as a poor me  without any solid proof she was right. In the beginning I was on her side but by the time I put the book down I knew it was a messy situation and I couldn’t depend on a rocky source for writing a mystery novel. If she never solved a case then how can she help me understand how to create my fictional crime?!

Thankfully, not all hope was lost. I was very disappointed in the novel and author, so I chose to turn to a new type of research. Podcasts!

I know, those are usually created by people who simply love to hear themselves talk about one thing or another, but I was/am getting desperate. I opened my podcast app and searched for information about murderers. Suddenly, I found it! A great podcast for anyone wanting to understand the mind of a criminal or the process of catching them. The podcast is called Real Crime Profile with hosts Jim Clemente (former FBI profiler), Laura Richards (formerly of New Scotland Yards, Founder and Director of Paladin, National Stalking Advocacy Service), and Lisa Zambetti (Casting director for CBS’ Criminal Minds). I have fallen in love with their podcast series and have learned so much about creating and solving crimes! I’m not ready to go hop behind an agent’s desk, but I think I could begin writing a believable tale with all I have learned. I will also be searching more podcasts for help.

To listen to their podcast and learn more about crimes click here —> Real Crime Profile


One thought on “Researching For Your Novel: Get the Facts From the Best Source Available

  1. Pingback: Middle Of The Week Thoughts 10/12/16 – Writing My Career

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