Sunday, December 30, 2012

Blonde Demolition,my thriller, is free today. Help me get into the Top 100. Thanks cmr

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Review:November Hunt By Jess Lourey

November Hunt

By Jess Lourey
ISBN: 978-07387-3136-0
A 2012 269 page TP release
From Midnight Ink Books

The eleventh novel in her Murder By The Month series brings sometime librarian-cum-private investigator Mira James squarely up against some respected town leaders. Mira is angling to become a licensed P.I. and needs many hours of supervised investigation in order to qualify. Given that her account in the local Battle Lake bank is flatter than the pancakes served at the local eatery, she has two powerful motives to take on the investigation of a local philanthropist and business man’s murder by his long time buddy.

November in Minnesota can be cold. Not only does the weather provide impediments, so do many of the town’s citizens, but Mira perseveres against bone-cracking cold and icy stares. The author is a good writer and the story is enhanced with clever characters, and a lot of tongue-in-cheek dialogue.

The series is known for the self-deprecating insouciance of the main character and her slightly twisted outlook on life. The danger of this kind of approach is in going over the cliff. Sometimes the impact of a really powerfully crafted scene can be lessened by the odd verbal swipe.

The plot is well designed and while there are few large surprises, the author spins this tale tightly and nicely to its conclusion with the aid of several interesting and amusing characters. This edition contains a series of discussion questions which can be useful to book clubs.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I note that the author and I are long-time acquaintances.<\p>

-- -- Carl Brookins,
Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky

Friday, December 07, 2012

911 technology in the U.S.

Here's an interesting 'infographic' on the technology behind 911. Thank you to Benjamin Gaw, Director of Digital Relations,
for forwarding this. 

His contact info is: Direct: 858.869.0571 Fax: 866.780.5126 Email: 10935 Vista Sorrento Pkwy, Suite 200 San Diego, CA 92130

 5Star medical alert


Crime Fiction/Psychological Thriller
Sequel to The Traz 

 FATAL ERROR eBook in the UK 

COVERS and covers

I am totally unaware of why I like or don't like a book's cover. When my publishers send me a cover proposal, I immediately show it to my husband, my daughter-in-law, or my website designer, all of whom have a WAY better sense of what makes a good cover than I do.

That said, I am smart enough to see when a book cover attracts people and when it doesn't. I've published books that people merely glance at and books that "call out" to readers. I watch their hands reach out for them subconsciously. KILLING SILENCE is in the latter category.

"That looks good," readers tell me when I hand out bookmarks. "Ooh, what's this about?" they ask, taking the book into their hands.

Exactly the kind of thing a writer wants to hear.

Amazon and other on-line bookstores have changed cover art, because a lot of detail is lost when a book is shrunk to the size readers see when they get little hints like "People who bought this book also bought..." Print books might still have beautiful colors and images, but they fade into blurs in those tiny squares.

Simpler is the trend, but a cover shouldn't look naked. I've set up at book fairs next to people who so obviously designed their own covers that it's almost painful. Yeah, they think it's "stark" and "evocative." Too often, it looks cheap.

I tried the less expensive route once, hiring an art student to design a cover. It turned out that "student" was a relative term. This one had no sense of perspective, no real interest in making a cover that popped. Luckily for me, my web guy saw it (he almost choked) and offered to work on it. Using the same images, he made the cover you see below, a vast improvement on the flat offering from the student.

I recently recovered the rights to a book published with a cover that always made me a little uncomfortable. At the time, I thought, "The publisher knows what will sell," but it turned out that particular publisher didn't know much at all. I've contracted with a professional artist to do a new cover for the book, one whose work I saw through a fellow author's website. She's been wonderful, and I'll post her cover here as soon as it's finalized, early next week.

So what's my cover recommendation for those planning to publish their backlists and more? Unless you've got experience in graphic arts AND an artist's eye, pay someone to design your covers.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Amazon Prime Members Can Borrow My eBooks with Kindle Owners' Lending Library

Did you know that if you have a Prime membership on Amazon and live in the USA or UK, you can borrow one ebook a month via the Kindle Owners' Lending Library.

You can choose from 180,000+ ebooks FREE, including over 100 New York Times bestsellers. And there are no due dates.

A Prime membership has other advantages too. For only $79/year or £49/year, you'll also receive free 2-day shipping on millions of items on Amazon, plus unlimited streaming of over 25,000 movies and TV shows. There are other perks too. You can learn more about Prime here.

You can borrow directly from your Kindle (e-ink versions and Fire):

1. On e-ink devices (regular Kindles & Touch), click on "See all categories" then scroll down to "Kindle Owners' Lending Library" to view titles. Find a book and click on it to either buy or borrow for free.

2. On Kindle Fire devices, the Lending Library is located in the bookstore. Browse books and look for Prime badge. Click on a title and you'll have the option to either buy or borrow for free.

3. You can also borrow and read on an app for your desktop, iPad and more. Download your borrowed books directly from by looking for titles that show the Amazon Prime icon.

Remember, as a US or UK Prime member, you're entitled to 1 free borrow a month. That's 12 free books each year.

Don't own a Kindle? Get yours now. If you're not a US Prime member, start your one month free trial today. If you live in the UK, start your one month free trial of Prime here.

Borrow Cheryl Kaye Tardif books! Look for the Prime icon.

Goodnight, Tweetheart by Cheryl Kaye Tardif is featured at the Twitter Fiction Festival

Yesterday, I participated in the inaugural Twitter Fiction Festival. I tweeted a short story I wrote live during the evening of this event. You can read the tweets by going to #goodnighttweetheart on Twitter, or you can read the short short below.

A Myrtle Murphy Mystery by Cheryl Kaye Tardif

One tweet. That's all it took to send my life spiralling out of control. One goddamn little tweet on that magic social network pipeline. If I had only known it would lead to murder, maybe I wouldn't have tweeted it.

My tweet: Anyone out there live near the Starbucks in SE Edmonton?

The result: Six replies. Two from jokesters who lived in Edmonton, Kentucky. I'm in Canada. The other four I wasn't too sure about. Could be weirdos; could be lonely people. There are a lot of crackpots out there—and I've met a few of them online. Haven't we all?

I mean, I've had the "twalker" (tweet stalker) who has followed me, RTd my tweets…and then hit me up for a "favor," only to get all pissy because I wouldn't give them my first born. I've had the bashers who haven't liked my tweets. Aw, gee, too damned bad. It's a free tweet world!

But on that day last week, I had 4 tweeps. 2 turned into creeps. One ended up in Zimbabwe or some such country. The other…well, there was my mistake. The other convinced me to meet him at that Starbucks I'd tweeted about.

You ever get those weird fuzzy feelings? You know, when you know something's not quite right? Well, I did. I had all sorts of "warnings." But I was too stupid to listen to them.

I met him at Starbucks and my first reaction was: Holy ****! What a hunk! We went back to his place. "For a drink," he told me. But I had other plans.

I tried to reign in my urges, but as soon as he took off his jacket, my palms grew sweaty. I wanted him. Hell, did I want him! I imagined him naked, on the bed, wrists and ankles bound. 50 Shades of Grey, my ass. I'd give him a hundred, and he'd enjoy each one.

Before I tell you what happened next, you have to promise me you won't tell a soul. This is just between you and me—our little secret. And if you tell, I guess I'd have to kill you.

Now where was I? Oh yes…the hunk on the bed, naked, tied up. Sadly it didn't go quite as planned. The drug I slipped into his wine took too long to work and I grew impatient. Patience never has been one of my virtues. Just ask my husband. Oh wait, he's dead. Okay, ask my mother-in-law. Oh wait. She's dead too. Here's another secret: I killed them both.

And on that night, after a delicious chai tea latte date, I slowly undressed that hunk of a man, watched as he stretched out on the bed, his mind trying to comprehend.

"I thought you were just a sweet old lady looking for someone to talk to," he said.

I smiled. "I know, dear. I do look like the grandmotherly type, don't I?"

He didn't fight as I tied him to the bed. He couldn't. His drug-glazed eyes pleaded with me.

I held up my knife, its sleek blade glimmering in the dim light. "I have something for you."

Actually, it was more for me than him. I had missed my old friend Death. It had been too long.

Like Dexter, I have my own "dark passenger" that I just can't shake. Don't know if I want to. Some call me a monster. Others call me a serial killer. But most people call me Myrtle—Myrtle Murphy.

Want to get together for a coffee some day?

~ * ~

If you enjoyed this short Myrtle Murphy Mystery, you'll find longer stories featuring the serial killer you'll hate to love in SKELETONS IN THE CLOSET & OTHER CREEPY STORIES, available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle, and on B&N, Apple, Kobo Books and more.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Online Anonymous Tips to Police

Today, thanks to an RCMP media release, I learned what a Nodwell is and I also learned about  ''.  Apparently this online site uses special software to encrypt and make anonymous tips it receives on crimes.

 Here's some introductory information on this website:

For Citizens
Do you have information about a crime?

If so, submit your information here anonymously. You may be eligible for a cash reward!

Tips submitted through this website are encrypted, entirely confidential, completely anonymous and are immediately and securely transferred directly to the law enforcement agencies which use our TipSoft - Tip Management application.

After submitting your tip, you will be provided with your own unique ID number that you will use when checking the status of your tip or picking up your reward.  Never submit an emergency tip here.  Please call 911 if it is an emergency. 

 For Law Enforcement 

  TipSoft is the industry leading solution for guaranteed secure and anonymous web tips!

Discover how much additional intel you could be receiving from those who otherwise shy away from phoning you with information.

Our web tips are guaranteed secure and anonymous and are very easy to implement and use! Not only do you receive your tips as encrypted Adobe PDF files via email, but they are also seamlessly and securely delivered right into TipSoft, our industry leading tip management software. An incredibly effective secure and anonymous intelligence gathering tool for both Community and Student based Crime Stoppers Programs. 

For your added information and pleasure, a Nodwell is a large tracked vehicle ("tracked" as in having tracks rather than wheels.) 

Here's the news release on an unsolved arson case that started my steep learning curve:
"Swan Hills RCMP are investigating an arson that occurred on the late evening/early morning of September 27/28, 2012. A Nodwell was stolen from a site near highway 33 Southeast of Swan Hills and driven a short distance through the bush. The Nodwell was deliberately set on fire and was completely destroyed as a result. The estimated damage is $190,000.

Swan Hills RCMP are seeking any information that may lead to identifying any suspects in relation to this arson. You may contact Swan Hills RCMP or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or"


NEW RELEASE! Crime Fiction/Psychological Thriller

FATAL ERROR eBook in the UK

FATAL ERROR paperback in the UK

FATAL ERROR paperback in Canada

FATAL ERROR on Barnes & Noble 


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Free Today

Blonde Demolition is free today on Amazon.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The criminal mind...

The criminal mind has intrigued me since the day I met my first psychopath. It was many years ago and the story of that meeting is the most popular page on my website.

I share with you, here, that story of the man who sparked my desire to write psychological crime thrillers:

I met a man with empty eyes...

Copyright © 2009 Eileen Schuh, all rights reserved

It wasn’t that his eyes were dull.  Oh, no!  Theysparkled. That shine, however, was not emanating from his soul, but was merely reflecting the world he was seeing.

I was a young girl, eighteen, straight off the farm. He was tall. Good looking with his dark wavy hair and tanned smooth face. Broad shoulders strained at his T-shirt. His IQ was slightly above 140. He was a genius. He was a psychopath. A sociopath.

He was a dangerous man.

I knew all this because I’d read his case file. I was meeting with him so I could get the little box beside “forensic patient” on “First Year Psychiatric Nursing Required Learning Experiences” record checked off. It was only my second month of hands-on training, so there were pages of little boxes left to go. Other than the ones beside ‘attending an autopsy’ and ‘making a bed’, ‘forensic patient’ is the only one I remember.

The ‘forensic patient’ was obviously enthralled by my presence. Life on the locked ward of a Psychiatric Hospital offers few thrills to those incarcerated there. I could tell by the way his empty eyes rested on the space between my white nyloned knees and the hem of my uniform, that I’d made his day. He didn’t rest his eyes there long, however. Just a quick glance, and then he was cocking his head, raising an eyebrow, and staring deeply into my eyes. A gentle smile lifted his lips and a dimple appeared on his chin.

I knew instantly, that like Dr. Hannibal Lecter when he met Jodi Foster in the movie “Silence of the Lambs”, this man was reading my soul. After 5 seconds of gazing into my eyes, he likely knew more about me than his entire thick file revealed about him.

Psychological Thriller


Amazon UK 


He knew I found him attractive. He knew I was naive. He sensed I was lonely and way out of my element in a place with barred windows, tiled floors, and dusty yellow brick walls. He likely even correctly guessed that I was a virgin.

I surprised us both by not blushing. I’d been warned. All of us female nursing students had been warned about the seductive lure of the psychopath. Despite the admonitions, not a year went by that a young nurse didn’t land in a heap of trouble over an illicit tryst with a ‘forensic patient’. I’d made up my mind early on, that I was too clever and wily to be that token young woman for my class.

I stared back at him, directly into his empty eyes. He was very much the textbook psychopath: male, brilliant, healthy, and handsome. He blinked and shifted uncomfortably.

The diagnosis on his chart was ‘psychopath’, although the preferred term coming into vogue was ‘sociopath’. ‘Psychopath’ suggests something is wrong with the ‘psyche’ or ‘mind’. Typically, there is very little wrong with a psychopath’s mind. They don’t suffer from hallucinations, delusions, or depression. In fact, they seldom ‘suffered’ from anything. They were generally very pleased with themselves.

Artistic rendition courtesy
Dave Brosha Photograph

Society, however, was generally not at all pleased with them. There was something dreadfully wrong with a psychopath right from birth. It wasn’t ‘wrong’ like something in their brain was miss-wired, misfiring, or damaged. But rather ‘wrong’, like something was missing from their basic human nature. Like a conscience. Like a soul.

Researchers discovered psychopaths often stand in front of mirrors and appear to be studying, or perhaps practicing, facial expression and body language. The researchers thought this behaviour suggested it was emotions that the psychopath lacked. Perhaps, they hypothesized, despite the fact that psychopaths were masters at reading other people’s emotions, they had to feign their own.

However, that suggestion was quickly dismissed. It isn’t emotions that psychopaths are missing. In fact, it is usually emotions that land them in trouble. Fits of rage, insane jealousy, love gone wrong. No, they obviously possess very intense emotions. However, those emotions don’t seem integrated with their being.

Unlike the rest of us, whose emotional nature is deeply tied to past life experiences, it appears the psychopath can choose whatever emotion suits the moment, with little regard for either the past or the future.

A normal mother loves her children intensely. Day after day, night after night, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. That intense love continually governs a mother’s behaviour and affects her choices. The psychopathic mother loves her children intensely--until she decides to kill them because her new lover doesn’t like kids.

My forensic patient’s discomfort lasted only a split second. He settled back in his chair. “How old are you?” he asked.

Warning bells went off in my head. I wasn’t supposed to let a forensic patient steer the conversation to a personal level. It was up to me to keep our meeting professional. I knew that he knew I’d been taught that. He’d spent hours in counselling sessions, knew all the ropes, all the buzz words, all the standard responses. His was a trick question.

From the length of hesitation before I answered, from the tone of my voice, from the flick of my eyes, from the movement of my hands--from my response to his simple question, he was going to learn reams about me. And, what he learned, he was going to use against me to get what he wanted.

I’d been taught the answer I should give was, “We are here to talk about you, not me.” He’d probably heard that response a million times. He was expecting those words from me, a young naive female. He likely had his next move already planned.

I needed to outwit him. Do the unexpected. Let him know that I knew where he was coming from and was unafraid. “How old am I?” I echoed. I crossed my legs and my uniform rode higher up my thighs. “Old enough to know better.”

My words seemed to please him as much as the new length of leg I’d exposed. I believe he actually chuckled. He was thinking how lucky he was that not only did he have a beautiful nubile woman engaging him in conversation, but he had someone with whom he could match wits--and he never lost such matches.

Although I wished my answer had not been so pleasing to him, I was grateful that at least the conversation had moved to an intellectual level. I figured losing to him at mind games was a much more desirable outcome than losing to him at games of the heart.

I let him stare into my eyes. I had nothing to hide--no secrets, no misgivings, no fears. At least that is what I was telling him. He kept studying my face, well aware that I was challenging him to find my silent lambs. I stared back into his eyes, not that I could see anything there other than the reflected squares of light from the window behind me. He finally gave up looking for lambs.

As there is no known cure for psychopathy, no effective treatment, no souls available for transplant, there was no need for me to attempt to counsel him. Just as society’s only recourse when dealing with dangerous psychopaths is to keep itself safe by locking them up, my sole intent was to shield myself from becoming this murderer, philanderer’s, fraudster’s, soulless being’s, next victim. It was the only victory available--aside from getting a check mark in that little square box.

I was determined to ensure both victories would be mine.

I uncrossed my legs and opened my notebook on my lap. I clicked my pen and peered across at him over the top of my glasses. “Is there anything you’d like to talk about?” I asked.

This time he did not chuckle. There was no smile, no dimple. He pulled his lips into a straight line and bared his teeth. Before I had time to gasp, the magazines on the end table were flying across the room.

“Bitch!” he hissed, as he stormed from the room.

A burly aide poked his head in the door. A giant ring of keys jangled from his belt. “Are you okay?” he shouted, looking quickly from me to the forensic patient marching down the hall.

I closed my notebook. Took off my glasses and folded them. I stood.

The aide’s name was Jim and there was worry in his blue eyes. He wasn’t all that tall, but he was taller than I was. I liked his blond curls. Not only were his shoulders stretching the seams of his short-sleeved white coat, but his biceps were straining against the cuffs. There was no ring on his finger.

“I’m fine,” I said demurely.“Thank you...Jim.”


If the psychopathic mind intrigues you, check out my psychological crime thrillers:


THE TRAZ in the UK



And here are the Amazon links to my SciFi psychological mystery:

Schrodinger's Cat

Schrodinger's Cat in the UK

All my books available in eBook and paperbacks and THE TRAZ also comes in a School Edition with a Discussion Guide. They are also available on other fine online bookstores. You can ask your neighbourhood bookstores and libraries to bring them in for you if they're not on the shelves.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Review: No Body

NO BODY by Nancy Pickard ISBN 0-671-69179-1 pb by Pocket Books, 255 pages

Jenny Cain must surely have a unique profession among amateur puzzle solvers. She’s the director of the Port Frederick, Maine, Civic Foundation. The foundation, somewhat unusual in itself, was founded by leaders of this small coastal Maine town to do good works where other sources of money are no longer viable.

Unfortunately, her job and her natural curiosity frequently lead Jenny Cain into odd places and difficult situations. Many of those situations are life-threatening. In this book, Pickard, who has won or been nominated over the years for ten writing awards, weaves a story out of news stories that appear from time to time, about disappearing bodies. In this case, a visitor to the historic cemetery in Port Frederick discovers that the grave of one of her ancestors is empty. Jenny is a native of Port Frederick and in her concern for the woman who fell into the empty grave, she discovers that a great many graves in that cemetery are empty.

Curiosity more than piqued, Jenny Cain starts an investigation. The closer she gets to the answers, the more dangerous becomes the situation. And then there is the murder of an employee of the one funeral home in town. Was she killed to keep her from revealing fraud? Are there other reasons? What happened to the 113 missing bodies?

Pickard has in Jenny Cain a bright, chipper and credible young woman who can’t resist trying to help people with their difficulties and thus getting into trouble. Written with a sure hand, Pickard has provided a small cadre of intriguing characters who help give the novel texture, substance and positive pacing. They’re the kind of people we meet every day. They’re all people with secrets they don’t wish revealed. And some of the secrets we’d prefer not to learn. An enjoyable novel of the genre.

-- Carl Brookins,
Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Alerts from K division

COLEMAN, Cyle James (1988 August 05)

5’9”; 165 lbs; tattoo left side of neck script writing

COLEMAN is serving a 3 year sentence for three armed robberies and break & enter. He was released into the community on Statutory Release on October 19 2012. Almost immediately after being released he disappeared and his parole supervisor has lost all contact with him. A Canada wide warrant was issued for his arrest on October 25. If located do not approach, call police.

EVANS, Clifford Francis (1971 March 24)
6’0”; 235 lbs; tattoo’s: dragon with skulls right calf; skull right upper arm; R.M.R. right elbow
EVANS is serving a 2 year sentence for possession stolen property; operate motor vehicle while disqualified X 2; fail to appear and motor vehicle flight. He was released on Statutory Release on August 18 2012. EVANS parole supervisor has lost all contact with him and his whereabouts are unknown. On October 12 a Canada wide warrant was issued for his arrest. EVANS has an extensive criminal record with over 50 previous criminal convictions. If located do not approach, call police.
Posted by:

The very best in Crime Fiction and Pyschological Thrillers


Sunday, November 04, 2012

Mystery Plot Points - MOTIVE

Plot Point #4 - Everyone Has a Motive
           In murder mystery entertainment every suspect has a motive. For every motive you need a piece of evidence. I write mystery entertainment so that some of the evidence is spoken dialogue, some of the evidence is hardcopy clues and much of the evidence is covered both ways, just to make sure no one in the audience misses anything.
          If the clue is verbal only then it must be included in a 'scripted' scene. All scripted scenes must be on microphone. There is nothing so detrimental to murder mystery entertainment as the audience not being able to hear what the characters are saying. Except a boring script. My scripts are never boring.
          The actor who is giving out the 'verbal only' clue must also make sure it is relayed to every group of people as he 'works the tables'. Mingling should take place between the scripted scenes as well as at the beginning of the evening.
          Included in this posting are the motives for three of the four suspects; Nadia, Shyster, and Samira. The fourth piece of evidence, although addressed to Samira is a clue to something that Shazam is trying to hide. His motive is covered in the dialogue with the other characters during the scripted scenes.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

WANTED Posters from the RCMP

PRYSTAY, Ryan James (1983 April 24)

6’0”; 220 lbs; tattoo: “soldier” left arm; dragon left calf; $ right hand

PRYSTAY is serving an 8 year 8 month sentence for numerous property; violence and non compliance related offences.  He was released on Statutory Release on 2012 July 05. On 2012 October 9, a Canada wide warrant was issued for his arrest after he fled from an Edmonton halfway house and his parole officer lost all contact with him. PRYSTAY has accumulated in excess of 30 criminal convictions in the past 10 years many for violent related offences. He has gang ties. If located do not approach, call police.

LALONDE, Rochelle Jacqueline (1983 August 05)

5’3”; 145 lbs;tattoo: “love or hate” right arm; “ROCH” RLTK” right hand

LALONDE is serving a 5 year 11 month sentence for manslaughter. She was released to an Edmonton halfway house on Day Parole.  She fled from the halfway house on 2012 October 10. Her whereabouts are unknown. There is a Canada wide warrant for her arrest. If located do not approach, call police.


Free on Amazon 1,2 November 2012
Crime Cops Computers...gangs & murder


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Criminal myths and Fatal Errors

A partial print on a revolver leads investigators to suspect young Katrina Buckhold played a part in a horrific gang slaying in FATAL ERROR, my new crime novel. (Sequel to The Traz. )

I direct you to my website where I list some fun facts about fingerprints that I learned from S/Sgt Wade Trottier, the St. Paul RCMP Ident officer (Forensic Identification)

An author's research is never done. It seems I run into interesting forensic tidbits which ever way I turn. Whether it be a Ducks Unlimited fundraising dinner (where I learned about double barreled shotguns), a SciFi Convention, or a workshop for volunteers. The experts seem to be especially





Paperback in the UK

 "A wise, haunting, deeply moving sequel to The Traz..."


enthused about teaching me things that debunk the miraculous crime-solving skills, techniques, and technologies of those CSI guys on TV. They also share some wonderful facts that would go real well on a CSI episode...or a crime novel.

What tidbits have I learned lately, which legends have been disproven and where did I learn it all?
  1. Yes, it is true that useable fingerprints are found at most crime scenes. Yes it is true that fingerprints are considered immutable evidence in courts of law and prints properly lifted and handled and with a clear connection to the crime will often elicit a guilty plea because it is so difficult to call such evidence into question. All my fingerprint facts were learned at a workshop for RCMP volunteers
  2. Fingerprints can't be lifted from rocks, but can be lifted from wood. However, the wood will likely be destroyed in the process. If your diamonds are stolen from your heirloom cedar jewellry might be facing a tough decision.
  3. Disappointingly, no, it is not true that the time of death can be established. Not by liver temperature, stomach contents, rigamortis, or the lifecycle of maggots or other insects. The time of death (unless observed, of course) can only be determined to be sometime between the last time the victim was seen alive and the time the body was found. Bodies known to have been dead for only a week, said the investigator from the Medical Examiner's Office at the 2011 PureSpec Festival in Edmonton, can be reduced to a skeletal state within a week, given the proper conditions. Estimated time of death, he said, is never listed on an autopsy report.
  4. Despite the fact that it makes a good story, no, it is not true that you can hand a police dog the possession of a missing person and the dog will sniff around until it finds the scent and follow it to the object of the search, says Cpl. Steve Prior of the RCMP Police Dog Services in St. Paul. The dog needs to be directed to the scent of the person on the ground before he can take up the case. Thus, it is important not to mess around at a crime scene or missing person's scene--you don't want to contaminate the scent that may have been left. It also helps if someone is around who can say where the object of the search was last seen.
  5. Yes, it is true that police dogs are crossed trained. Dogs are trained in three areas: to track individuals, to sniff out drugs, and to locate bombs. All dogs are trained to track individuals, but bomb dogs are not trained for drug searches and drug dogs aren't trained to sniff out bombs. Because... well, suppose the police receive a call about a bomb threat in an airplane. The bomb-sniffing dog that's sent on board picks up the scent of marijuana coming from a backpack.  Is it a bomb or a toke?  Nobody would know, which could be a tad dangerous.

Eileen Schuh, Author
Schrödinger's Cat

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Murder's Not as Easy as It Looks

Vicarious murder, I mean. Not sure how difficult the real kind is, and I really don't want to know.

For a mystery writer, though, murder becomes problematical. First, it has to be entertaining for the reader. Some writers go for gory detail, but that isn't my cup of poison, so I have to be creative. And when you've got a few books out, you start to realize that all the murders can't be the same kind. The victim can't always be shot or pushed down the stairs. Readers notice these things.

To make matters worse, a crime must have repercussions. If the police know a murder's been committed, there will be an investigation. If that happens, likely suspects will be examined for motive, means, and opportunity. Everyone who's ever seen Perry Mason re-runs knows it, so the writer must help his killer remain undetected, at least for 200 pages or so.

Does he make the murder seem accidental? Good idea, but how? When you actually try to set up a convenient accident, you'll find it isn't as simple as it might seem. What if someone sees the killer at the victim's house? How does he get the person to cooperate in his own demise? What about all those CSI people who'll be looking at every shred of evidence?

Does the killer try to blame someone else? Possible, but he (or she) will have to assure that the person hasn't got an alibi. He'll have to lead the police to his choice of suspect and away from himself.

And what about the method? Face-to-face methods are quick but require either sangfroid or the opposite (would that be sangchaud?) More removed methods call for careful planning. Many a murder mystery has been ruined for me because the killer could not have known he'd get the right victim and might just as easily killed someone else entirely (of course, that could be part of the plot...)

Right now I'm planning my next plot (or is that plotting my next plan?), and I want the victim to die of poison. Fine. Now which poison will provide what I want: a quick death that looks like suicide that can be administered by an unknowing third party by a manipulative killer several thousand miles away?

I don't ask for much, really. I just want an entertaining (vicarious) death.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mystery Plot Points - THE UNUSUAL SUSPECTS

Plot Point #3 - Who are the suspects?

Now that we know who dies, who are the suspects? The best mystery entertainment is always over the top! Colourful characters are just more fun and able to get away with extreme behavior. This helps your audience relax and enjoy themselves; it makes it easier for them to participate as well. Since no one is acting 'normal' it gives guests permission to act a little melodramatic as well.

In mystery entertainment, every character has a motive for wanting the villain dead. Here's the cast / characters for Midnight at the Oasis.
Deanna Berrington as Nadia of the Night - Betrayed by the Sultan
Tony Berryman as Sheikh of Shazam - Robbed by the Sultan
James Lazarus as Sheihk of Shyster - Blackmailed by the Sultan
Judy Smith as Samira of the Sunset - Cursed by the Sultan

The Arabian Mountain Spice Belly Dancers play the harem. Cam Berry as the Sultan of Haberdashery is not in this photo but you can get a glimpse him with Alice the drug sniffing camel in Plot Point #2 Who Dies?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mystery Plot Points - WHO DIES?

Plot Point #2 - Who Dies?
Who dies can be quite different in a written story than at a mystery party. In fiction writing, a writer has the ability to be subtle; in live events, not so much. The dead person in a novel can be good or bad or both. At a party, there is no room for subtly. The dead person is always the deepest, darkest villain who truly deserves to die. Not one tear will be shed as he (or she) drops down in pain, rises up gasping for breath, pulling over chairs and knocking over lamps as he finally stumbles his miserable way out of this world.

Case in point: In Midnight at the Oasis, the Sultan of Haberdashery with his drug sniffing camel Alice, is the villain. Well, the camel gets to live. The Sultan - no. A truly detestable bad guy, he gives everyone he comes in contact with a good reason for wanting him dead. Blackmail, burglary and betrayal are just of few of his horrendous habits. The Sultan has control over something which the killer and other suspects want; their hearts, their freedom, their pocketbooks. Motive is all about being in control at its bottom line.