Criminal Mischief: The Art and Science of Crime Fiction

Criminal Mischief: The Art and Science of Crime Fiction
Crime fiction and criminal investigations are equal parts art and science. Creating compelling crime stories that ring true requires attention to character, plot, POV, voice, and so much more as well as an understanding of forensic science and criminal investigative techniques. Join me and let’s explore all things crime, fictional and real.

31: Body Disposal Isn’t Easy
Nov 28, 2019 • 26 min
Some criminals attempt to destroy corpses, the primary pieces of evidence in homicides. They think that if the police never find the body, they can’t be convicted. This isn’t true, since convictions have in many cases been obtained when no body is found.…
30: Evidence
Nov 28, 2019 • 24 min
If Locard’s Exchange Principle is the cornerstone of forensic science, evidence is the heart and soul of the crime lab. Indeed, evidence is the sole reason it exists. Without evidence, what would the lab do? Evidence is used to determine if a crime has…
Nov 28, 2019 • 17 min
SKIN IN THE GAME is the first story in my new Cain/Harper thriller series: Raised as siblings by an itinerant “gypsy” family, knife expert Bobby Cain, trained by the US military in the lethal art of covert eliminations, and Harper McCoy, nurtured by the…
28: The MacGuffin
Nov 28, 2019 • 22 min
What is a MacGuffin? Since Alfred Hitchcock coined the term, his definition—such as it is—might be best: “The main thing I’ve learned over the years is that the MacGuffin is nothing. I’m convinced of this, but I find it difficult to prove it to others.”
27: ABO Blood Typing
Nov 28, 2019 • 19 min
By simply typing the blood at a crime scene, investigators narrow their suspect list and completely exonerate some suspects by using the population distribution information for the four ABO blood types.
26: Storytelling In Dixie
Nov 28, 2019 • 27 min
Here’s the thing about the South—if you can’t tell a story, they won’t feed you. They’ll simply deposit you behind the barn and let you wither away. That doesn’t happen often because everyone down there can spin a yarn. Some better than others, but a…
25: A Stroll Through Forensic Science History
Nov 28, 2019 • 35 min
Let’s take a stroll through the history of forensic science
24: Common Writing Mistakes
Nov 28, 2019 • 23 min
Writers, particularly early in their careers, make mistakes. Often the same ones over and over. Here are a few pitfalls to avoid.
23: Apollo 11 & Me
Nov 28, 2019 • 27 min
It’s hard to believe that it’s been 50 years. Exactly 50 years. This show has nothing to do with crime writing or the science of crime. It is rather a step back in world history. And in my personal history. Yes, I was there. Inside the gates of the Cape…
22: Common Medical Errors in Fiction
Nov 28, 2019 • 24 min
Too often, fiction writers commit medical malpractice in their stories. Unfortunately, these mistakes can sink an otherwise well-written story.
21: Autopsy OF A Thriller: The Terminator
Nov 28, 2019 • 25 min
THE TERMINATOR just might be the perfect thriller. Here it is dissected scene by scene to see why.
20: Elements Of A Thriller
Nov 28, 2019 • 28 min
What elements make a great thriller? Let’s explore them.
Nov 28, 2019 • 15 min
From Publishers Weekly: In Lyle’s ingenious third mystery featuring retired major league pitcher Jake Longly (after 2017’s A-List), Jake, who runs a restaurant in Gulf Shores, Ala., is again roped into working for his father Ray’s PI firm. An attorney has…
18: Gunshot To The Chest
Nov 28, 2019 • 26 min
Gunshot wounds (GSWs) come in many flavors and those to the chest can be particularly dicey. Yet, a chest GSW can be a minor flesh wound, a major traumatic event with significant damage, or deadly. If you have a character who suffers such an injury, this…
17: DNA and Twins
Nov 28, 2019 • 24 min
For years it was felt that the DNA of identical twins was indeed identical. Since they come from a single fertilized egg, this would seem intuitive. But, nature likes to throw curve balls—and the occasional slider. After that first division of the…
16: Arsenic: An Historical and Modern Poison
Nov 28, 2019 • 20 min
Toxicology is a relatively new science that stands on the shoulders of its predecessors: anatomy, physiology, chemistry, and medicine. Our knowledge in these sciences had to reach a certain level of sophistication before toxicology could become a reality.…
15: Introducing Characters
Nov 28, 2019 • 23 min
You never get a second chance to make a first impression. The same is true for your fictional characters. So, make them vivid and memorial. How do you do this? There are many ways. Let’s explore a few of them.
14: Rules of Writing
Nov 28, 2019 • 24 min
There are many “Rules” in writing. Fortunately, most are like STOP signs in Italy—merely suggestions.
13: Alice in Wonderland Syndrome
Nov 28, 2019 • 18 min
One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small And the ones that mother gives you, don’t do anything at all Go ask Alice, when she’s ten feet tall White Rabbit, The Jefferson Airplane
12: Fentanyl—A Most Dangerous Game
Nov 28, 2019 • 26 min
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is as much as 300 times more powerful than morphine sulfate. It can be injected, ingested, inhaled, and will even penetrate the skin. It is used in medical situations frequently for pain management, sedation, and for…
11: Civil War “Limb Pit” and the History of Infectious Diseases
Nov 28, 2019 • 20 min
Here in the 21st century we know a great deal about infectious diseases. We can treat bacterial infections with antibiotics, immunize people against numerous diseases, understand how viruses work, and have a huge fund of knowledge about surgical sterility…
10: Rattlesnakes and Murder
Nov 28, 2019 • 21 min
All sorts of weapons are used for committing murder. Guns, knives, poisons, explosives, ligatures, drownings, and gentle pushes off buildings or cliffs. Oh, don’t forget rattlesnakes.
09: The Mysterious Human Brain
Nov 28, 2019 • 29 min
The physical and psychological corners of the brain can malfunction and create an array of character problems
08: Mood and Tone in Crime Fiction
Nov 28, 2019 • 26 min
Setting the mood and tone in crime fiction should be done up front. The opening passages tell the reader the type of world they are entering and what they can expect. The opening might give character insights, setting, and the basics of the crime—and…
07: Famous and Odd DNA Cases
Nov 28, 2019 • 29 min
The history of forensic DNA analysis has involved some fascinating cases
06: Is It Harder To Write Crime Fiction Today?
Nov 28, 2019 • 29 min
Do modern forensic science and police investigative techniques make creating compelling crime fiction more difficult? Are there simply too many balls to keep in the air? Too much to consider? Or is now little different from then?
05: Making Characters Compliant
Nov 28, 2019 • 28 min
Bad guys, and girls, seem to always need some way to overpower or control another character. There are many ways to that.
01: Murder Motives
Nov 28, 2019 • 33 min
Motives for Murder: Financial – – insurance, inheritance, business takeovers, avoidance of alimony Property disputes Revenge Political Cults & Religions Murder for hire Empathy and sympathy Crimes of passion Domestic Protect self image or secrets To…
02: Cause and Manner of Death
Nov 28, 2019 • 27 min
MANNERS OF DEATH: For what purpose and by whose hand NATURAL: Natural deaths are due to the workings of Mother Nature in that the death results from a natural disease process. Heart attacks, cancers, pneumonias, and strokes are common natural causes of…
03: Time of Death
Nov 28, 2019 • 33 min
DETERMINATION OF THE TIME OF DEATH Determining TOD is critical Both an art and a science The sooner after death the more accurate the estimate Changes death variable and unpredictable. Physiologic TOD, Estimated TOD, Legal TOD Always a best guess None of…
04: POV in Crime Fiction
Nov 28, 2019 • 32 min
Who is telling the story? Is he/she also the protagonist or an observer? Is he/she reliable? How many POV characters is too few/too many? Which characters know too little to drive the story/or know too much and might spoil the story?