Monday, January 25, 2016

Tight-lipped investigators

A common complaint of those touched by crime is the lack of information they receive from the police during the investigation. (Family of murder victim finds wait for justice painfully long )

We are used to TV shows where we know all the clues and evidence as soon as the cops do, and sometimes before they do. So when real life strikes and very little is shared with us as victims or family members, we think something is wrong.

We assume the secrecy must mean we are suspects.  And although we might very well be suspects as many perpetrators of crime are related to the victim or known to the victim, there are many other reasons investigators are closed-lipped.

We might feel insulted, believing the reasons cops won’t tell us anything is because they don’t trust that we won’t blab to our friends or the media. That might be true as well. Preserving the integrity of the investigation is paramount in the minds of investigators. They do not want to work hard on a case, only to have it fall apart in court. 

There are many less personal reasons, however, for not sharing information during an investigation. For one thing, early evidence might be misleading, giving victims and their families either false hope or unnecessary grief.

For example, the presence of a weapon may make it appear a victim committed suicide, whereas further investigation might reveal the death was the result of a homicide—or vice versa.

A body found partially nude might make it appear the victim was sexually assaulted. An autopsy, however, might reveal the person died from hypothermia. A common symptom of late-stage hypothermia is a feeling of being intensely hot. Many victims of exposure throw off their clothes just before succumbing to the cold.

Sometimes withholding evidence helps trip up suspects as well. If someone confesses to shooting the victim when the autopsy shows the victim died of stab wounds, the investigators know they have to keep looking.

Releasing information about a case can easily contaminate witnesses’ ability to testify accurately when it comes time for a trial. The human mind is not an accurate recorder of data. Memories, thoughts, and opinions are easily altered. It is a feature of our mind that we integrate new knowledge into the framework of thinking we already possess. Learning of evidence before testifying can potentially alter a witness' memory of what occurred.

It’s a fine line investigators walk when determining what to reveal to the public before the case is tried. Some details, such as video surveillance photos of suspects or the make and model of a suspicious vehicle, are often released in order to elicit help from the public in solving a crime.  Other information is kept close to the chest.

Although prior to trial, investigators must release all information they have gathered to the defendant (disclosure), victims and their families are not afforded the same courtesy. Often, the first time victims and their families learn of evidence is when it is presented in a court room.

As unfair as that sounds, this secrecy is necessary to preserve both the investigation and the trial.

Withholding evidence from the public about a biker gang slaying is key to solving a cold case massacre in my soon-to-be-released novel, SHADOW RIDERS. Watch for it.

Tight-lipped is brought to you by the BACKTRACKER SERIES

Monday, November 30, 2015

Crime for Christmas

Mystery, murder and mayhem. Merry Christmas!


With my background education in Psychiatric Nursing and Journalism and volunteer experience with law enforcement, the BackTracker stories ring frighteningly true.

Check out this series of  novels, a perfect buy for many reasons across all seasons. The first three books in this intriguing series (THE TRAZ, FATAL ERROR, and FIREWALLS) are already available in both ebook and paperback formats. THE TRAZ also comes in a School Edition, complete with a discussion guide and links to information and help sites for the social issues touched on in the novel.

With the fourth in the series due out in a few months, BackTracker makes a great gift.

Adolescent girls love the fact Katrina is their age and living outside the constraints of parenting. What kid doesn’t dream of doing that? She’s clever, beautiful and extraordinarily wealthy. What girl doesn’t dream of that? 

Katrina leads an exciting life, hooking up with drug dealers and bikers, and brokering cocaine deals. However, the downside of her dangerous choices becomes apparent all too soon.

While her two million dollar inheritance grants her special privileges of power and belonging in the violent gang world, the cost of that membership will be too steep for her to bear. With no guardians, no one to love her and no one to care, Katrina’s future is very insecure indeed.

She may not survive.
Beautiful, wealthy & in danger

Books are awesome gifts. There are few entertainment options that offer so much pleasure for so little money. One can buy a bundle of books and have thousands of hours of pleasure for much less than a single ticket to a three-hour professional sporting event.

And another reason to buy books this season? Most publishers are offering hefty discounts from now to the New Year.

The paperback versions of the BackTracker novels are currently 15% off  on CreateSpace. At check out, use discount code VN8SJ9RL for THE TRAZ School Edition (Book 1) and FATAL ERROR (Book 2). Use code CMUQ66P6 for THE TRAZ Book 1 and FIREWALLS Book 3.

My books are also available as paperbacks and ebooks on Amazon, Smashwords and all fine online book retailers. 

If they aren’t on the shelves of your local bookstore or library, you can ask to have them ordered in.

Friday, October 16, 2015


Canadian crime writer, Melodie Campbell, always adds a twist...

That crime can be funny is something she's proven time and again. And  Campbell fans can rejoice-- there's a new book out with her name on it...along with that of an accomplice.

Guesting today on Criminal Minds at Work to introduce that new release is author, Melodie Campbell! 



To the elderly man in the khaki sweater who lifted his reading glasses to
stare open-mouthed…

To the unknown person who gasped and knocked over a chair behind me…

To the woman with the stroller who stared with horror, and then wheeled her toddler frantically away toward the exit…

False Alarm Alert: The two middle-aged women whispering about
murder in the Orangeville library were not fiendishly plotting how to do away
with a tedious husband.

They were writing a murder mystery!

I’m perhaps best known for writing the mob comedy caper series, The Goddaughter. But I also write classic whodunits with my close friend CynthiaSt-Pierre.  Our first book, A Purse to Die For, was great fun towrite.  And happily, it was a Top 100 Mystery on

Our second, A Killer Necklace, is just out.

Thing is, I live in Oakville and Cindy lives two hours away in Newmarket.

Much of what we do is by email and Skype.  But every few months we like
to get together to hash out plot problems in person.  This means meeting
somewhere in between, like Orangeville.  And where better, than at the
place we feel most comfortable, that hallowed home for books, a library?

But my apologies to the patrons we may have alarmed.  I can imagine the
dinner conversation at several houses in Orangeville that night.

Which brings me to the question asked here:  Why write with a partner?

Simply put, it’s FUN!  There is someone sharing your lonely writing job
every step of the way.  Cheering when you surprise her with a twist in a
new chapter…moaning, when you both start the heavy work of editing.

Writing a novel is a lonely pursuit.  You spend months by yourself
before anyone sees the work you have been slaving over.  Having a
co-writer takes the loneliness out of being a writer. 

Yes, you give up a little autonomy over your plot and characters.  But
you also share the delight of incorporating new ideas and plot twists that you
would never have come up with on your own.

Take it from me: planning murder with a partner is much more fun than doing
it yourself.  Even our (very much still alive) husbands agree.

Who is the dead woman at the bottom of the stairs? A killer is determined to
keep her identity secret, even if it means killing again... 

"If Christie wore Armani and Louboutins..." (review of A Purse to
Die For)

A KILLER NECKLACE (Imajin Books) is sold in all the usual places.

on Amazon

on Kobo