Posts Tagged ‘crime’


In crime on March 27, 2013 at 10:03 am

Get_Clean_Alternative_Cover (1)Jams N. Roses under the spotlight?

Do you really want to see all of my imperfections?

Over the next few paragraphs, I’ll try and summarize where I’m coming from, so you’ll maybe have an idea as to what to expect from my writing.

I am not a criminal, not in the sense that I’ll rob your bag when you’re not looking, or I’ll steal the food from your plate even when I’m not hungry, just to be a nuisance. I won’t threaten you in the street for looking at me funny, nor will I throw bricks at your windows if you don’t give me a cigarette when I ask for one.

But I have been arrested on more than one occasion. I’ve been locked up, I’ve had my prints and mug shots taken and of course, as a sign of the times, they’ve even taken my DNA. But I’m not a real criminal.

And I’m not a drug addict either. Although if I’m honest,  I’d have to tell you that in several of the recent years of my life, I’ve spent more money on cocaine, alcohol and cigarettes than I’ve spent on the rent for the dirty, little apartment that I’d been living in.

I’ve mistreated friends and loved ones and lost some people that were close to my heart, but at the time I was too blinded to see the irreparable damage I was doing to relationships.

Things change, and people change, too.

Luckily, after all the stunts I’d pulled, all the ridiculous and dangerous situations I’d found myself in, things started to go on track.

I’m a daddy now, and that little boy of mine is the angel that keeps me away from trouble, away from even the situations where trouble could potentially arise. Of course, I am no angel, but I am no sinner.

I have found a way to channel my naughty side, a way to allow my mind to have a free run with its mischievous ideas and not cause any trouble, and nobody gets hurt or embarrassed or let down.

I found that by writing my thoughts, those dark little waves of energy in my head, down onto paper, or tapping them into a keyboard and onto a computer, relieved some of my desire to be in the mix myself. I stopped needing to be in the bars or the pubs and didn’t need to be high or drunk to have fun.

I’ve learnt that by creating a separate world where anything goes, I can keep the world in which my son walks and plays as safe and as beautiful as possible.

I draw on my previous experiences for my writing. ‘Get Clean’ is based loosely on my drug problems and the time I spent living on the notorious southern coast of Spain. ‘Son of a Serial Killer’ is heavily based on the thoughts and emotions I had during the break-up of a serious relationship, which all seemed too much when on top of the other daily struggles we all go through.

I hope to have an exciting life in the future, one that I can draw on for future ideas and plots and characters for my fiction novels, who knows, maybe I’ll even get to write a love story, but I’m not holding my breath!

Both of my novels are available now on Amazon here…

Son of a Serial Killer –

Get Clean -

Here is the link to my blog -

And you can follow me on twitter – @jamsnroses


In crime on September 4, 2012 at 6:45 am
While I spend a good part of my day writing crime books, I spend another part attending college as a criminal justice major. It’s true most of the people in my class expect to be a cop of some sort when they graduate, but I am more interested in investigations. In fact, I’m taking a criminal investigations class this semester! The stuff I have learned so far, definitely helps me be a better crime writer.
What does one learn in a criminal investigation class? A lot. We have covered forensic stuff like how to recognize basic fingerprint types – arch, loop and whorl. How to take fingerprints. We have also covered what type of evidence is most likely to contain DNA. (drinking glasses, underwear, bloody rags) We have learned that a single strand of hair can inform one of gender, race, age, true hair color, and general health. We have also learned that the definition of homicide is the killing of one human by another human and that murder is the unlawful killing of another human without justification or excuse. We know that murders are always homicides but homicides are not always murders.
The most important thing I have learned, however, in terms of both writing and investigating: is that chronology is king. That is to say, when trying to piece together an investigation, one must do it in chronological order. Even though this may seem self-evident, there is a big tendency (myself included) to jump back and forth in time while stepping through the crime. My advice is: don’t do it. It’s too confusing for the reader (and an investigations process). I have found that if everything is put in precise time order, the reader doesn’t have to think so hard. They can just enjoy the read.
For instance, this week my class was given the assignment to review the Jon Benet Ramsey case and list the things that were done wrong by the Boulder Colorado Police and then list what the police should have done. The general facts of the case are that on the morning of December 26, 1996, a six year old girl was found missing by her mother who simultaneously discovered a ransom note on the stairs. The mother called 911, the police came and about seven hours later the child was found by her father. She was discovered in the basement of her own house – murdered. The crime was never solved and the parents were (and still are by many) considered the prime suspects.
The first thing I did was make a time line of events for the initial 24 hours. Once I did that, many mistakes were obvious. Here is a the first few entries in my time line. Can you see with this time line, even without professional training, some of the things that were done wrong?
1. 2 AM neighbor hears scream.
2. 5:45 JBR found missing by mom
3. 5:48 mom finds kidnapper’s ransom note on stairs
4. 5:52 mom calls police – 911
5. 5:55 JBR parents call two sets of family friends to come over to the house
6. 5:59 police arrive – Officer French – 1st to arrive
7. 6 AM Officer French makes a quick search of the house with dad, John Ramsey, then looks for entry/exit points. He sees no sign of struggle. Did not search “wine cellar room” in basement because it was “locked”.
8. 6:03 am – “friends” arrive including Fleet White
9. 6:20 am Fleet White searches basement. Mr White sees lights on in the basement and “wine cellar” door open. Mr White sees broken window in the basement and a suitcase along with a broken shard of glass under the window. (Note: later he did not remember if the window was open or closed.) Mr White opens the wine cellar door but doesn’t see anything because he can’t find the light switch.
10. 6:25 Officer French seals off JBR’s bedroom only
11. 6:45 Three more BPD arrive
12. 7 am Burke (JBR’s brother) awakened
Based on only the above facts, did mistakes jump out at you? Some of the things I saw was: the first officer on the scene (who was the Boulder Police Chief) did not secure the entire house as a crime scene, the parents and their friends were allowed to remain in the house and roam freely, thus contaminating evidence. The police officer, when searching the house initially, did not open a locked door in the basement. This is where the body was eventually found. There is no mention of experts like the FBI being called in immediately. (They weren’t called until three hours later). The brother, who slept on the same floor of the house as the sister was not awakened and questioned for an hour.
Obviously, there was a mountain of mistakes in this case and many books have been written discussing these mistakes. But in this case, like any other case, the easiest way to begin to understand the crime and to find discrepancies, is to put the events in time order. I recommend when writing about crime, be it true crime or crime fiction, always put the sequences in chronological order, do not jump around in time. It builds tension naturally and makes it easier for the reader to follow and to possibly solve the crime.
Escaping the Arroyo is available on ebook and paperback at
Joyce Nance can be found on Facebook: 


In crime on June 26, 2012 at 5:15 am

You gotta suffer if you want to sing the Blues. If you want to write convincing crime fiction, you have to know some criminals. Up close, on a first name and a.k.a. basis. They tend to be a suspicious and sometimes violent lot, so this could be tricky and possibly dangerous. But Art is sometimes a stern mistress, and nobody said this would be easy.

The best way to get to know criminals is to engage in crime. At least marginally. Drug addiction is a quick and sure path. A dizzying percentage of our prison population is serving time for drug-related offenses. So, the minute you pick up an illegal substance, you’re well on your way to understanding the ins and outs of outlaw activity. If a life of misery and despair doesn’t appeal to you, there’s always gambling. Of course the type of compulsive betting that’s likely to expose you to genuine bad guys is no picnic in the park, either.

For the squeamish or morally stubborn, an alternate entre’ into the underworld might be through working in the Criminal Justice System. Parole officers, social workers, and cops come into contact with miscreants all the time. The problem here is that the relationship is usually strained, to say the least. It’s nearly impossible to gain real insight into someone’s psyche who is constantly lying to you. People on the wrong side of the law tend to say what they think people on the right side of the law want to hear. It’s simple self-preservation.

My introduction to the exciting world of lawbreakers came by way of the US Government. Three decades ago the economy was in pretty rough shape, and jobs were almost as hard to come by as now. In a fit of humanitarianism, the federal government instituted a program similar to the Depression Era’s WPA. One of the unintended results was that, at least in my town, it attracted every shady character who could scratch his name on the application. Plus me and a handful of other guys desperately seeking honest labor. To describe me as a Babe in the Woods would be eerily accurate. Especially since we actually spent a lot of time in the woods, clearing brush and cutting trees and generally trying to look busy.

On my first day I met my first criminal. Let’s call him Ray. He was on a work release from Somers Prison. For some reason we hit it off. Probably because we had a common enemy. We were designated as a two-man chainsaw team, and we spent a lot of time trying to keep from being ripped to ribbons. Neither of us had ever used any kind of cutting tool more dangerous than a pair of scissors. We eventually graduated to the wood chipper crew, but I digress.

The days were long, the work repetitive, and Ray liked to tell stories. It made the mind-numbing labor tolerable. He’d been locked up for dealing in stolen merchandise. And possession of drugs. And refusing to rat on some guy. I was never clear on the exact charges, and I didn’t ask. I quickly learned that if I kept my mouth shut, his would keep going. This habit of silently listening, with the occasional knowing nod, served me well with all the felons I became friendly with.

Ray and I took our breaks together and, after a while, began to socialize after work. It wasn’t long before he loosened up enough to school me in everything from how to boost a car radio, to the method of wrapping the butt of a pistol with electrical tape to avoid fingerprints. It didn’t matter that I never showed the least inclination to use any of this information. Ray just assumed the responsibility of passing the knowledge along, just in case. Kind of like an uncle who feels every boy should know how to bait a hook, whether he wants to fish or not.

Some of the other people I got to know on the job made Ray seem as discrete as a mute priest. They struck me as pitifully proud of their crimes, past and present. I soon realized that most of these guys weren’t caught through brilliant police work. If they weren’t shy about talking in front of me, it was only a matter of time until they shot off their mouths to someone who mattered. And talking wasn’t all. I witnessed drug transactions, hot items bought and sold, and I was there the day a particularly scary individual fired several shots into the side of the tool truck. When someone asked him what he was doing, he said he borrowed the pistol from his cousin and wanted to make sure it worked. He went on the say he was planning a B & E for that night. When the same guy asked what was up with the gun, the shooter came back with one of the most chilling phrases I’ve ever heard: “In case anybody’s home”.

The job lasted exactly one year, the term of the program. In that time I got to know shoplifters, burglars, one stickup man, and a lot of people with a criminal bent but no particular specialty. I discovered the purely professional crook was rare. A little like musicians who need a day job to make ends meet. I also found out that familiarity breeds complicity. If you’re around all the time, people begin to assume you belong. I’ve lost touch with everyone I met during that year but, whenever I need a crooked character, they’re right there for me.

Sometimes I wonder whatever happened to Ray. I ran into his girlfriend about six months after I’d last seen him. She was angry that he hadn’t listened to her when she warned him that nobody would keep anything valuable in a warehouse with a three dollar padlock on a wooden door. Ray’s big heist turned out to be fifteen cartons of Left sneakers. Seconds, at that. The cops were laughing so hard they could barely handcuff him. And if that wasn’t bad enough, on his way out of the court appearance for the Sneaker Caper, he got caught stealing a rack of dresses, twenty yards from the courthouse steps. For all his knowledge, he couldn’t get past the impulsiveness that seems so much a part of criminal nature.

Sometimes people can fool you. Sometimes people can change. I like to think that Ray is doing all right and not sitting in some prison cell. Or worse. And I like to think that if he found out how much of him I’ve borrowed over the years, he’d be glad he was able to help out the innocent kid who was, for a brief time, his friend.

Lester Thees can be found on Amazon:

Leaving Town is his new novel.


In crime on June 19, 2012 at 6:38 am
Crime Time

Crime Time (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I suppose there comes a time when every writer in our chosen genre thinks at some point about committing the perfect crime I know I have from time to time.  Although the other thought of what’s the point if you can’t brag about it also crossed my mind ?

It is also true that many dismiss the subject as some sort of unattainable goal or myth and it’s  for sure the police would love for us to believe that it is quite impossible,  if only as a means of convincing us to remain honest.
However for me and my Oh so logical brain it has to be not only possible but has in all probability already happened, many, many times.  For instance we know that every year hundreds of crimes go unsolved – however these crimes can hardly be considered perfect in so far as they maybe unsolved but they are not undetected.
We also know that many crimes go unreported, whether this a public statement of confidence, or lack thereof, for our justice system is a discussion for another time, suffice to say here that again these crimes have still been detected and for that reason fail to meet the criteria of perfect.
Therefore the interesting question is ‘how do we know if the perfect crime has ever been committed if it remains undetected or at the time it was dismissed as having another cause such as of natural causes an accident or suicide ?’
If like me you are an avid fan of all TV series involving crime and forensics you might well consider a life in crime a waste of our talents being as it is almost certain that the bad guys always get caught.  That’s of course unless you work for a Government agency in which case all your pals rally round and make all the naught things you have done go away. That or they  lose or misfile the evidence, put a block on all computer records or just give you a new identity a slap on the butt and tell you not to do it again.
But we’re crime writers, right!  We know better than that,  TV, like the books many of them are based on have a hidden agenda, make the good guys look good and make the bad guys pay for their crimes.
But surely that’s just pure Hollywood, the ‘White Hats’ win and those that wear the ‘Black Hats’ get shot, hung or go to jail….   Although the same thing happens nightly on British TV as I’m sure it does in every other country.   “Yeah ! Go Good Guys !”
However, I’m talking real life here where crime and the criminal always seem to be at least two steps ahead of the law.  For sure they seem better equipped and certainly better funded than the forces of law and order. Isn’t it funny how we never see crime bosses on the news bitching about budget cuts or a slump in available victims.    I suppose it’s a bit like the world of medicine, have you noticed how the cure cannot be discovered before the disease, same goes for crime and detection ?
Now science is a whole new ballgame, if we are to believe everything we see and hear on TV then if you even dream about committing a serious crime like murder you’d better wake up and apologise  because the people in the white coats will nail your butt faster than you can say  DNA !
On the other hand, as an alternative to watching crime shows on TV if by chance you were to watch the news and read the newspapers instead you might come to realise that there is a distinct pattern to the many crimes that get reported and of course the ones that get solved.
The police will happily announce solved crimes this after all is good news, sells newspapers and makes the folks at home feel safer.  However for the other side of the coin you have to watch ‘Crime Watch !’
Only serial killers make the news on a regular basis and only when they don’t get caught.
When many writers research crime the tendency is to turn to the official reports and the newspaper archives, unfortunately I think these tend to give them a skewed and biased one sided view of things because it deals mostly with those crimes that have an outcome.
As an example of what I mean I am reminded of a wartime story of our fleet of Bomber aircraft.  Someone in aircraft design made a point ofphotographing and analysing the damage done to the aircraft by enemy fire after they had returned from their mission.  In a detailed report they recommended adding extra armour plating to the damaged areas.  The response from the Air Ministry was a suggestion to put thearmour plating on the other places… being as this represented the aircraft that didn’t come back !
So in the same vain when seeking the perfect crime we need to look at the old unsolved crimes or even better the ones marked  ‘NFAR’ No Further Action Required.
Now here’s a helpful pointer,  a lot of murders are crimes of passion or a heated overreaction while under the influence of drink and or drugs.  The police know this so their usual first line of investigation is always going to be one looking for direct connections to the victim(s).
So I would summarise their main areas of investigation logic are Means, Motive and Opportunity.
Means:  Our ability to commit the Crime.     (How?)
Motive:  Our reason to commit the Crime.    (Who and Why?)
Opportunity:  Our chance to commit the Crime. (Where and When ?)    
Of course showing the presence of these three elements is not in itself sufficient to convict a person beyond reasonable doubt.  There must also be evidence to prove that an opportunity was present and was indeed taken by the accused.
Incidentally, motive is not a necessary element in many crimes however supplying motive will often help to convince a jury.
Plus if accused then it is always handy to have a decent alibi with which you can prove you were not able to commit the crime in question.
Also at this stage it may be convenient to point out that most criminals get caught because they cannot keep their mouths shut.  Remember a secret shared… Is not a secret !
However consider this, remember the ‘Ego’ of human beings, what’s the point of committing the perfect crime if no one ever knows how clever you are ?
Never be tempted to brag about it !
Therefore to commit the perfect crime you need to operate way outside any form of investigative logic and avoid leaving any evidence directly traceable back to you.
You must be fully aware of all the modern day tools available to the police such as CCTV all over the place, especially in busy public places and all travel locations such as Airport check in areas, train and bus stations and most major roads.
Consider too that many High street shops and stores use CCTV for security inside and out, as do vehicle filling stations and hole in wall cash machines. Great for creating an alibi but not so good if they put you in the right place but at the wrong time.  Till receipts and credit card transactions are date stamped.  Again perfect for helping to create an alibi but a tool that can and will be used against you.
Then there’s the science departments designed to find the unwary by collecting their fingerprints and DNA.
DNA is fast becoming the surest way to prove someone committed a crime therefore it is absolute imperative that you don’t leave any DNA behind you and that is extremely difficult.
Of course you could commit the crime in a place where it is likely to have a lot of DNA from a lot of people while you yourself take extra care with your own.  Why not take lots of extra DNA from lots of other people and scatter it around.   How you might ask, well how about mixing in some used chewing gum, coffee cups with finger prints, lots of different hairs and fibers off used clothes.  Then throw in lots of animal hair from cats and dogs ( not your own pets that’s just dumb)  it will be like creating the haystack hopefully without the proverbial needle in it.
Don’t make the most common of mistakes that of trying to hide the crime, just make sure you minimise any personal connection to it.  If the crime involves a weapon of any sort leave it at the scene, assuming you have made absolutely sure there is no possibility of  any linking evidence such as DNA or fingerprints Etc.  (Wear thick gloves not the thin rubber ones you see them use on TV.)  Don’t move or even touch the body and never bother to try and hide the body or worse try to dispose of it.  Plus don’t steal or take anything away from the scene that could link you back there. (You were never there remember.)  Of course you could always give the police a suspect by leaving the DNA of a perfect stranger on the body ! (Mean but rather them than you… right ?)
Of course the best thing to wear would be those wonderful all in one white hooded overalls you see the police forensic people wearing, complete with shower caps over your feet and a face mask.  Trouble with that is you might stick out a bit !  Nothing to say you can’t wear all that under your own clothes to help minimise what you might leave behind though !
Oh yes, don’t wear your own clothes,  plan an out of town shopping trip weeks or months in advance, go to large supermarkets, buy cheap common brands and only pay by cash and DO NOT keep the receipts.  Then after your crime destroy everything quickly and quietly without creating suspicion (so no bonfires or flushing things down the toilet).  It’s amazing what a bottle of full strength domestic Bleach does to clothes Not to mention DNA !!
It should go without saying that timing is another key element in committing the perfect crime.  Being alone on quiet streets late at night or in the early hours of the morning is always going to arouse suspicion unless you can contrive a very good reason for being there.
I think invisibility is the key solution and here I am not talking about the Harry Potter type of invisibility with a magic cloak.   For my latest novel I have been looking closely at the science of invisibility and of camouflage and the art of hiding in plain sight.
Think about your own experiences, how often when walking through a busy town centre or shop and you observe people walking towards you.  You may expect them to give way or perhaps stop talking long enough to acknowledge your presence and may be move over… Yet they do neither and if you didn’t move then there would have been a collision.   What are we talking here, supreme arrogance on their part, rudeness or were they just so caught up in their own tiny world that you were truly invisible to them ?
Now extrapolate that out into the world, seeing a postman delivering late at night is to say the least unusual but in the morning do you still see him ?  Was it indeed a him or a her ?  Could you describe them in detail or identify them in a police lineup of say twelve identically dressed post people ?
See what I mean about invisibility?  Our eyes and brains are constantly bombarded with tons of information which has to be sifted and sorted into relevant and irrelevant, normal (no threat) or abnormal (possible danger and threat).   Our brains do this automatically while we get on with living, which includes wearing ‘Hoods up Head down,’ listening to iPods, talking on mobile phones or those around you.   Let’s face it, a UFO could land next to some people and they wouldn’t notice a damn thing.
Continuing with the invisibility theme while we consider the two aspects of Timing and Proximity, now given that we have covered the fact that it virtually impossible for us to come and go without being recorded we must consider using the snoops tools to work for rather than against us.
We all know that all Bad Guys wear masks, a striped pullover and carry an over the shoulder bag with ‘SWAG’ written on it so if we look normal and act normal we should be OK right ?
UM! Well … No, here in the UK we have over four million CCTV camera and that means the average person is going to be caught on camera over 300 times every single day. Learning  where cameras are sighted will help but is no guarantee and of course for the perfection we seek ‘Nearly’ is not good enough.
So we need to forget the cameras altogether and use them against the ‘Big Brother’ Snoop system and become someone else and here the more banal the better.
Just as import we need to consider removing ourselves from the area with as little fuss as possible.  How about a push bike rather than a getaway car ? On a bike you can use side streets go off road and travel quickly.  Don’t forget to look the part and don’t look like you.
It is of course wise to have an alibi but don’t be too anxious to use it or produce it if merely stopped for routine questioning.  Don’t be too helpful to the forces of law and order just answer the questions they ask, do not offer more information than is required abut don’t raise their suspicions by being overly obstructive.  Don’t tell unnecessary lies if you can possibly avoid it, just in case you are questioned again.
Be somewhere else – you could forward plan a trip away, book two rooms in a hotel and become two people (you with your credit card your alter ego pays cash). Of course both of you need to check in and out.   You need to go to a Trade show or convention and attend. Try and use a small hotel with few staff and no cameras.  In the early hours travel to the place of your crime, commit it, and return. Then enjoy the remainder of your trip (on your credit card) and return home the next day.
What happens afterwards?   Well live your life as normal, but one thing I wouldn’t read any newspapers or watch the news on TV.  The police can and do use both of these as physiological weapons to convince you they know more than they do.  Just continue your everyday life. Yet again I remind you DO NOT BRAG about your crime to anyone (that includes posting on Twitter and Facebook!)
If you do get arrested, this does not mean you have failed to commit the perfect crime.
However, if it happens, do not speak. The police need evidence to convict you – if you have done the job right, there won’t be any right ? Or if there is it points in a direction away from you, better if it points to someone else, Yeah, yeah, I know that’s not nice but remember the police are likely to give up looking when they have someone in the frame.  Perhaps to commit the perfect crime we need to give them that somebody.
 Do not help the police with additional or embellished testimony, Remember the powers that be need to find you guilty beyond all reasonable doubt.
Finally and just in case PC Plod is out there reading this it is only the entertaining ramblings of a deranged writer hoping to promote his next book which involves the art of invisibility when committing murder.   No, not a sequel to Harry Potter with his magic cloak but the true art of perfect camouflage where you can actually be in your victim’s direct line of sight and still they will not see you until it’s too late.

Merlin Fraser can be found on: and


In crime on May 29, 2012 at 5:37 am

My latest book, Secret Witness (University of Michigan Press 2012) is my first venture into writing true crime.  I have written non-fiction books before, everything from bestselling business management books (Cubicle Warfare) to military history.  I learned that writing true crime was a different game entirely and thought I’d share a few of my experiences. 


In Secret Witness I was writing about the 1967 bombing murder of Nola Puyear in Marshall, Michigan’s main street.  The day of the murder I was four years old and attending a birthday party in a park just outside of downtown Marshall.  I never heard the blast but my memories of the day are etched in my brain.  It was the first time I saw adults, parents, afraid.  You don’t forget something like that. 


Writing this book was different for me in that I have always written books that everyone wanted to have published.  With true crime books, that is not the case.  I found some people I interviewed who refused to have their names printed, despite the fact that the murderer has been dead for decades.  The books deals with the culture of small towns in America.  I discovered, via the investigation, a lot of sex and dirty little secrets from my hometown.  Small towns can be very protective of their pristine images. I was confronted by more than one person that told me I shouldn’t write the book.  “Nice people don’t talk about such things.” Some secrets are apparently best swept under the rug. 


As a professional writer I sent letters to the family of the killer.  There were two reasons for this.  One is to let them know that a book is coming out.  Two, I wanted to see if they would be willing to answer some questions.  I couldn’t track down all of the various family members…I stuck with those immediately involved and mentioned in the police files. 


Not surprising, they were less-than-enthusiastic about the book coming out.  The wife of the victim, once she got past her indignation, actually tried to get paid by me to answer questions!  I expected the indignation.  I actually respect that.  The extortion…that didn’t settle well with me.   


Some of their children reached out to me to tell me that they couldn’t stop me from writing the book, but I should not publicize it since they live in that same small town. That’s not reasonable for a writer.  Promotion of a book is necessary.  I also have a lot of love and respect of Marshall, Michigan.  I don’t think that the community is so shallow that they hold the children or grandchildren guilty for the crimes of generations past.  I have more faith in the people of my hometown. 


The other aspect of writing true crime is that some of the people involved are still alive.  My other non-fiction books were from World War One.  The parties involved have been dead, for decades.  True crime deals with people, relatives, witnesses, jurors, etc., that may yet be alive.   Many don’t want to have the publicity focused on them or their relatives.  At the same time as a true crime writer, you can’t let that guide whether you write a book or not.  The decision to write a book rests with me as an author.  I don’t open that up for public voting.  If I did, I wouldn’t be writing any true crime books – no one would.  There’s always someone out there that doesn’t want the story told. 


Has it been worth the risk?  The feedback I’ve received so far has been outstanding.  Publisher’s Weekly gave it a great review using phrases like “compelling” and comparing it to Alfred Hitchcock and Grace Metalious (Peyton Place’s author).   Obviously I encourage you to read it for yourself ( ) 

In the end, I have no regrets…yet…  I’d be curious as to what you think.  Feel free to reach out to me at or via my blog 

LaeLand is looking for guest posts. If you have one in you, please get in touch. The only requirement is that the post is about crime, the length and POV of it is totally up to you.

In return you get a two-day promotion, with a spotlight on the Monday and your post on the Tuesday.


In crime on May 28, 2012 at 6:13 am

Blaine Pardoe is a bestselling award-winning author of numerous books encompassing genres from science fiction to business leadership, and from military history to true crime.  He has won awards from the Military Writers Society of America and the Historical Society of Michigan.  Blaine has appeared on numerous nationwide television

and radio programs discussing his writing and has been a speaker at the US National Archives and the US Navy Museum.  Secret Witness is his first true crime book detailing the bombing-murder of Nola Puyear in Marshall Michigan in 1967.  He is currently working on another true crime book, A Special Kind of Evil, about the murder of Daisy Zick in 1963.

More information about his work can be found on Blaine L. Perdoe website.

Tomorrow, Blaine guest post, Writing True Crime. Don’t miss it!


In crime on April 17, 2012 at 6:20 am

First I want to thank you for inviting me to post information about my book on your blog and the captivating teaser you gave your readers.  Before confusion sets in, let me explain that I am a writer with a dual personality.  Sherrel Lee writes contemporary fantasy while my alter ego Lee Leslie delves into the dark works of real and imagined serial killersI chose to write under two different names so that I wouldn’t confuse the readers of my books.  I personally find it jarring when I fall in love with a book and the next book I pick up bears no similarity to what I read before.  I don’t want that to happen to my readers though if they like both genres I will be happy to have them know where to look. 

A little about Lee Leslie:  Lee started writing as soon as it was possible to control the movement of pencil over paper. Classics such as “Barbie Goes to the Beauty Shop” and” My Puppy Likes to Play” were some of the less notable endeavors of those early years.One of her first real life employment opportunities was as a dispatcher for a small town police department.  Between calls for assistance from the citizenry and sending help to officers embroiled in breaking up fights or fast paced chases (not so many), she met a few unsavory folks and her imagination wrote the stories of their large, small and imagined deadly crimes.

At night Lee devoured every real crime story, mystery and thriller she could find as well as a little science-fiction and dark fantasy. This, along with characters demanding to be set free from the confines of her psyche, led her to intensify her efforts to master the art of writing. This pursuit confirmed what she and her family already knew, her imagination descends into murky and chilling depths.

Police photograph of the murder scene of Mary ...

Police photograph of the murder scene of Mary Jane Kelly, the 5th canonical victim of Jack the Ripper. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

RipHer by Lee Leslie is a historical fiction, based on the true crimes attributed to Jack the Ripper.  The story is the result of this writer wondering – would a woman have been a better investigator than the men who were blind to the changes occurring in the world.  This unexplored possibility provided other things to think about like - why were those particular women killed?So, where did I come up with this idea?  For 

me this was a response to the call of the muse that captured me.  The muse planted people and conversations in my brain and these people talked to me and danced a deadly waltz across my mind.  The only acceptable way for me to explain this to friends and family was to write.  Writing will hopefully keep the world from deciding I am more than a bit insane.

RipHer became my passion after I saw a special on the Jack the Ripper killings.  After the show I found I had to read about the crimes in more detail (again) and learned more about the times and the attitudes during this period.  It seemed to me the men investigating the murders hunted for the killer based on the rumors that flowed through the news and public accusations.  I couldn’t find much about how the investigators actually determined who to arrest.  Rumors led to many different suspects.   The killer was a butcher.  The killer was a doctor. The killer was a prince. 

RipHer is not the story of the murders and the investigation you have read before or seen as a movie.  The story has a woman (Dr. Rowena Radcliffe) going to the crime scenes and exploring how and why the women were killed.  It proposes a possible answer to why the five women were selected.  And of course, as a historical fiction, the killer is found and hauled in to pay for the crimes.  I guess the feminist that I discovered existed in my subconscious, wondered if a woman had been the person investigating the murders would the search for the killer have been any different.  

Cartoon criticising the police for their inabi...

In my research I discovered that fingerprinting was offered by so me as a way to identify people.  However the police departments throughout the world scoffed at the idea of using this as a method of detection.  I also learned that some scientists were beginning to believe killers could be profiled – again law enforcement shrugged and thought this a useless tool.   (If the investigators and their superiors had only been privy to television shows like Criminal Minds the investigators would have pounced on the opportunity to use the new tools to find the killer.)  The writer in me took these bits of information and the idea of a woman involved in the investigations and ran away with it. Murder

Streetmap showing the locations of the first s...

 is not fun – but writing something where your character gets the bad guy was satisfying for me the author.  It is my hope readers will be pleased that this tale offers is a different perspective of the crimes. RipHer presents a viewpoint that hasn’t been explored before. I hope you are enticed to pick up the book and let me know what you think.  Your comments are welcome on my Facebook Page.

Go to Lee Leslie’s Facebook Page featuring RipHer at

(RipHer by Lee Leslie is currently available on and in paperback and Kindle editions.  And if you might consider a fantasy look for my alter ego Sherrel Lee’s book Valens Rise)

Go to Sherrel Lee’s Facebook Page featuring Valens Rise at Sherrel Lee-Valens Rise

Next week don’t miss our spotlight on Libby Fischer Hellmann


In crime on April 11, 2012 at 6:16 am
Reading true crime books and even going through true crime authors interviews, there’s this notion they write/dig into the book/story only to make a stronger point, if one is needed, about the significant difference between the criminal and the ones who haven’t been caught yet, between the us and them. How do you feel about that? Coming from a fiction writing background and going into true crime writing more by chance than a desire to ‘make a statement’, what’s your take on it? I have been looking for an answer to my question for a long while now since I started browsing through true crime books, but every time I get a true crime author to do an interview, they seem to duck this question so when I got David Mattichak to contribute a guest post, I couldn’t refrain myself from asking and he was kind enough to answer. Here’s  what he says:
When I agreed to write about Malcolm Naden I firstly wanted to tell the truth, whatever that turned out to be. When I examined how the NSW police had handled the case it was tempting to be very critical of how they had mishandled the case. Because Naden is an Australian Aboriginal as were both of his victims, it would have been easy to make the story about how marginalized Australia’s indigenous people still are in the 21st Century but that too would have been a departure from the real story- the murder of two young mothers and the damage that that did to a family (the women were his cousins). If Naden’s victims had been white then I am sure that the investigation would have been better managed from the start, and it was only after Naden shot an police officer that the NSW police seemed to take the manhunt seriously.
When I wrote Loot, and as I have been writing my next crime novel, I do try and focus on creating an identification between the main character and the reader, a sort of “that could be me” feeling, whereas I found that when writing about Naden’s crimes that it was hard to imagine myself in his position, taking the actions that he took. It was very difficult to make an identification between Naden and the reader and I think that part of telling these stories is to highlight how a cold blooded murderer is different to the average person.
If I did have any desire to make a statement, as you say, it would have been that our society continues to marginalize indigenous people and this contributes to these kinds of crimes, but after thinking about that angle I decided that to write from that point of view would have been to add to the marginalization and that pointing out only the differences would have been painting the wrong picture about Aboriginal Australians. The real story wasn’t that Naden had never been given the same opportunities as his non-indigenous countrymen, the real story was that his family had tried to cope with his strange behavior by ignoring it, or denying it, which is something that any family might do.
So, to answer your question, I tried to show how little difference there really is between Naden’s background and most other people’s but that he had made a choice to pursue the path that he did and that it was possible for anyone to choose to give way to their dark, or animal, inclinations. If I set out to show that there is any difference it is merely that Naden acted on impulses that we all might have lurking somewhere but which we suppress and never act on. Oddly enough, I found myself sort of hoping that he could continue to elude capture simply because he had so embarrassed the authorities that were hunting him. I also found myself identifying with the father of the girl, Lateesha Nolan, who first went missing, presumed murdered. Mick Peet never gave up looking for his daughter which I could understand as I would probably have done the same thing in his place.
It is the place of true crime writers to tell the story that they find and if a writer wants to make a point of some sort that it may be better placed in a fictional setting. Making Naden’s story about the ineptitude of the NSW police, or about disadvantaged Aboriginals would have been to depart from the real point- that two young women had been murdered and that our society demanded justice for them. I don’t feel that I need to make any social point, the truths in the story makes them for me.
Thank you so much to David for answering the question no true crime author or reader wants to answer.

Upcoming Guest Post and Short Story

In crime on March 28, 2012 at 3:16 pm

Merlin Fraser  Merlin Fraserparapsychology author with a hint of crime, and Image of Sherrel Lee Sherrel Lee, with a fantastic post about Jack the Ripper and a question I bet you’ll find intriguing indeed. Don’t miss them. They’re going to blow you away.

New Guest Posts

In crime on March 27, 2012 at 8:10 am

Guest posts by crime writers Morgen Bailey (fiction)  and David Mattichak (true crime) coming up in the next few weeks. Check LaeLand regularly so not to miss them. They’re going to be fab.