978-1-58297-015-8 / 9781582970158

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About the book:

Since, happily, most writers don't have direct experience with the gory details of drug enforcement, forensic psychology, or hate crimes, they'll need to get the nitty-gritty for their screenplays and novels from a reliable source. This is where Howdunit comes in. Culled from a 14-volume series on crime writing, the book is a one-stop-shopping reference guide for writers in the genre or for those interested in learning the background of real police work.

Beginning with the fundamentals of modern cop life and the criminal justice system, Howdunit elaborates on murder variations (bizarre, mass, serial), forensic medicine and autopsies, crime-scene searches and surveillance, vice-related crimes, and special problems such as gangs and paramilitary groups. Stark illustrations are included where appropriate, such as black-and-white photos of Nazi paraphernalia and basic police gear, as well as simple anatomical drawings that are designed to illustrate common medical adjectives like lateral and posterior. Most chapters end with a short list of points to cover for character or plot development, turning each subject into a possible writing exercise. The editor, John Boertlein, spent 20 years on the police force, and he clearly knows his stuff. Each section is precisely detailed and extremely straightforward; tools, procedures, and personality profiles are recorded in a way that leaves little room for misinterpretation. If you've got your plot twists and big con all planned out, studying this book is sure to provide the final touches. --Jill Lightner

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