Archive for May, 2012|Monthly archive page


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 May 22, 2012 at 6:52 am

Anybody who writes (or anybody who delves into the creative arts) realizes how satisfying, frustrating and how addictive the process of putting pen to paper (or today, fingers to keyboard) can be. Perhaps, it is because of this ‘yearning to write’ that, there is such a long history of substance abuse among writers. In some cases, it remains controversial whether the author him/herself actually indulged in drug use or whether the writer simply wrote about it, planting a character or two into the uncomfortable world of addiction.

One commentator of the time said: ‘I incline to the view that Poe began the use of drugs in Baltimore, that his periods of abstinence from liquor were periods of at least moderate indulgence in opium’.

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), the author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice Through the Looking Glass as well as a large number of entertaining, strange and wonderful poems was sickly as a child (whooping cough) and also suffered from a speech impediment (stammer).  In later years, he suffered from hearing loss, migraine headaches and epilepsy. Dodgson is known to have used laudanum as did Poe and possibly also belladonna (deadly nightshade) for his headache. Belladonna, taken in adequate doses, can produce hallucinations, much like Alice experienced during her adventures (see post: Mother Nature’s Psychedelic Roadside Drug Store).

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (an ophthalmologist, by training) wrote about his character, the detective Sherlocke Holmes who, aside from cigarettes, cigars and pipes was a regular user of cocaine (in a ‘seven percent solution’) as well as the occasional user of morphine.

There is evidence that William Shakespeare may have at least experimented with drugs. Residues of cocaine and myristic acid, also known as tetradecanoic acid (a plant-derived (nutmeg) hallucinogen) in clay-pipe fragments have been retrieved from the bard’s Stratford-Upon-Avon home. Marijuana residues were also present. His ‘Sonnet 76‘ is interesting for the implications of  experience with drugs…’compounds strange’ and ‘noted weed’:

“Why with the time do I not glance aside To new-found methods, and to compounds strange?
Why write I still all one, ever the same,
And keep invention in a noted weed,
That every word doth almost tell my name.”

Stephen King, hugely successful as a writer of horror, admitted to cocaine use especially between the years 1979 and 1987  which explains the history of his constant bloody nose and stories which always seem to involve a psychic or a mad man.

William S. Burroughs, author of ‘Naked lunch’ and ‘Junkie’ was an abuser of eukodol (an opioid, today’s oxycodone) and heroin.

Jack Kerouac, author of ‘On the Road’ and ‘The Subterraneans’ (written in under four days!) was a renowned user of  Benzedrine, an amphetimine which would explain his ‘rocket-jet writing style’ and the subject matter of his books, often involved ‘drug-fuelled cross-country road trips’.

Ken Kesey, is best known for his book about a mental institution (where he actually spent some time as a patient), ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’Kesey was a graduate of Stanford University’s Creative Writing Program and was also part of the government-financed (CIA) MKULTRA experiments, which tested the effects of mind-distorting drugs like LSD, mescaline, and potThese drug ‘studies’ were focused on finding ‘mind-control’ and ‘truth’ drugs. Towards the end of the program (1957 to 1964), the study focused on schizophrenia research under the direction of  Dr. Donald Ewen Cameron  of the Allan Memorial Institute of McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

Allan Memorial Institute, Montreal

Aldous Huxley wrote ‘Brave New World’ and was known for his interest in mysticism, parapsychology and ingesting mescaline. On his death-bed at age 69, unable to speak, he wrote a note to his wife asking for an intramuscular injection of LSD. His book ‘Doors of Perception’ is thought to have influenced the band ‘Jim Morrison and the Doors’ (‘Break on through to the other side’).

But of all the modern writers, it is Hunter S. Thompson who stands out as the ‘ultimate drugged writer’. Known for his sarcastic commentaries and pointed critiques, Thompson wrote ‘The Rum Diary’ and ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’, most of which concerns on-going drug-crazed experiences: ‘Hallucinations are bad enough. But after a while you learn to cope with seeing things like your dead grandmother crawling up your leg with a knife in her teeth. Most acid fanciers can handle this sort of thing.’

Thompson was a life-long user of LSD, mescaline, cocaine and alcohol. He loved guns and committed suicide  by shooting himself in the head on February  20, 2005, age 67.

Being an author can be stressful, even dangerous…Any of you reading this thinking about writing a book?

Discover  novels by Robin C. Rickards at for download onto any e-reader and at Amazon Kindle:
The Judas Kiss
The Organ Donors
Whip the Dogs
The Tao of the Thirteenth God

Next week: Blaine L. Perdoe, true crime writer.


In crime on May 15, 2012 at 6:16 am

It was done.  Something about the finality was comforting, but it was also terrifying.  It raised the hair on my neck and sent tingling doubts darting like swallows through the darkening of my mind.  My mind.  Oh, I could remember when it had been mine. It was done.  The gun felt heavy and smoke filtered softly from the short barrel.  The shot had been a surprise.  So fast.  So final.  Weeks and months of agonizing and questioning and wondering if I was mad.  And it was over so quickly. It was in the things she said!  Hidden, encrypted daggers behind innocent conversation.  And her eyes.  Did I get the message?  Oh yes.  There were nibbling doubts from the beginning.  Maybe I was seeing something that wasn’t there?  Maybe I was becoming a tad forgetful…overworked.  But then she would tweak the paranoia.  Her eyes would twinkle the understanding.  I could never ask about it.  She knew that.  That was her trump card. The doing of it.  How does an accountant kill a woman he once loved…still loved…loves?  Did I love her still?  Yes, even as I pulled the trigger, barrel pressed against the back of her sleeping skull, parting her soft blonde hair.  But it didn’t change the facts.  ‘Love’ would not change a thing behind bars.  Surely, I had made mistakes.  But she had spent the money just as I had.  She was culpable!  She was not a fool.  She knew that something was awry, but she couldn’t confront me…the coward…she chose instead to play her games and try to drive me mad.  And it worked.  But not as she intended.  I was not crazy, but mad enough to kill. Sanity was never the question.  Well, maybe the first few times.  I gave her the benefit of the doubt.  But it was all too neat and pretty.  Wrapped up in codes and signal words.  Like the perfect birthday parcel.  Yes, she made me question my sanity.  But I refused to address the question!  The killing.  How to kill?  It is a tricky question, indeed.  I had many plans that did not come to fruition.  Many plots that petered out.  Poison.  A faked suicide.  An ‘accidental’ fall.  But then, the robberies.  The murders.  All over the neighborhood.  In the houses of our friends.  Our peers.  Stolen goods and people murdered in their sleep, while showering, shot through the windshields of their cars. She even tried to suggest that I was the one…never directly.  Because I liked my late night strolls.  Because they eased my burden.  Because I could return home with a blank mind and sleep…not roll in bed, tangled in blankets, replaying our conversations in my mind. So, the opportunity presented itself.  One more victim.  Oh, I could be the aggrieved husband.  I had that in me.  She had pushed me far enough for that.  I was aggrieved.  Betrayed.  Forsaken.  I had it in me; it grew in me and spread through my body like a virus.  I did not fear the questions they would ask.  I did not worry that I would be caught. It was done.  Finally.  The nights of terror.  The blood they threw on me.  The horror I lived with.  The crimson rage and headaches and pages missing from my mind.  It was her.  Damn her.  The whole time, it had been her.  She thought I would be her fool.  But I am no one’s fool.

JD Mader is the author of ‘Joe Café’ and a Contributing Author to Indies Unlimited, where The Accounting was first published (January 17th, 2012). You can find more of JD’s writing at his blog


Next week a new post by Robin Rickards. Don’t miss it!


In crime on May 14, 2012 at 6:07 am
I’ve been asked to write a legit ‘bio’. I have a short bio I usually fire at people to deflect their advances, but it failed me this time. I don’t enjoy talking about myself that much, see? This is a trait many writers share. I am not claiming to be unique. But I will do my best to tell you in 500-ish words who I am.
I was born in a small town in Florida. I quickly left and have not returned to Florida willingly since then. I moved around a lot as a child, bouncing from one principal’s office to another. It wasn’t that I was a bad kid, I just had real, ‘cut off your nose to spite your face’ problems with authority figures. I still do.
I don’t like being told what to do. And I am a man of extremes. On a recent Motorcycle trip (I am the president of the PPMC, an adventure MC Club), I was putting on sunscreen. I read the directions because, well, that’s what I do. They made a big point of not spraying it on the face. It seems I was supposed to spray it on my fingers and then rub it on my face. Of course, I disregarded this advice.
About ten miles down the hot, angry freeway, sweat carried the sunscreen into my eyes and I was instantly nearly blind. I would describe the sensation as ‘very blurry and mind-boggilingly painful’. I rode on at 70 mph, hoping for a straight line, face shield up, willing that my tears would clear my eyes. Finally, I gave the signal, pulled over to the side of an off ramp, ripped off my helmet, and started pouring water into my eyes…frantically.  I did this until I could kind of see. Then, I told my boys we needed to find a place that sold Visine. My eyes were blood red. We had been on the road for ten hours. They were not happy.  “Why did you spray the sunscreen onto your face?” They were incredulous. Why? Because the goddamn bottle told me not to, that’s why.
When my wife wants something done she tells me not to do it. My daughter is the same way.
Let’s see now. You know I have a wife and daughter (she is three). I like motorcycles (like normal people like cake or oxygen). And I like to write. I collect pocketknives and refuse to throw old socks away.
I got my first professional writing gig when I was 14 or 15, writing sports and feature articles for our local paper. They even gave me a column. Don’t ask me to explain this, I will never understand it. I also played in a band and wrote really good lyrics for really bad songs.
I majored in Creative Writing at San Francisco State University and have lived in the Bay Area ever since. I have written two novels: Joe Café and The BikerI recently co-wrote a book with KS Brooks and Stephen Hise. It’s called Bad Book, but
it is actually a pretty good book.  The first two are crime-ish, noir-ish, character based novels. The latter is what happens when writers blow off steam.
I have written a ton of short stories (most available for free at, along with links to essays, stories about my wife’s pregnancy, and links to my music:
I was a reading specialist for ten years, working with learning challenged kids and “at-risk” youth. I loved it, but I am nearly deaf now, and teaching is hard when you can’t hear.
If there is one thing I could change about my life (aside from the crippling poverty), it would be aviation. My father was a pilot. I want, and have always wanted, to be a bird. A hawk, soaring, like the snippet of a dream, above the chaos here on the ground. I have the scars to prove it.
I’ve won some writing awards and gotten some good reviews. I’ve gotten some rejections. My laptop has probably rendered me infertile. I write for myself and also as a contributing author at
So, that’s me in 600 words. I wash my hands more than I should. I like to play songs for my daughter on my old acoustic guitar. I like to sit around a campfire after a long day of riding through rocks and streams. Fishing is my religion. I like club sandwiches. I used to smoke, but quit ten years ago. I write because I can do it fairly well and it helps keep the voices quiet.  My name is JD.  Nice to meet you.

Next week, another post by orthopedic/author, Robin Rickards.


In crime on May 8, 2012 at 6:15 am

In medical (orthopaedic) literature the ‘Hangman’s Fracture‘ is a displaced bony injury through the pedicle (posterior bony arch) of the second cervical (neck) vertebra, caused by a sudden and forceful extension (arching the neck backwards) injury.

In today’s world, this injury is most often seen as  a result of a motor vehicle accident but in the world of ‘judicial execution‘, a ‘hangman’s fracture’ is the ‘ideal lesion’. It is the bony injury that is witness to the associated spinal cord lesion, causing death by paralysis rather than by strangulation. The topic of execution is distasteful for most people but formal killing of one’s own human species has a long history and there is a certain degree of ‘science’ behind any method of ending a life and the science of a  ‘proper’ hanging has been one method that has been looked at quite closely. Although the rope around the neck could be a simple loop or noose, the more effective device was the hangman’s knot.

Traditionally, a true hangman’s knot contained thirteen (there is that number again -see blog: Fun with Numbers) coils of rope (the more coils, the less easily the knot could be tightened or loosened) with the knot placed under the chin or towards the left ear. The point with this snug loop was that with the downward force of the body drop, the neck would be forced backwards resulting in the hangman’s fracture and rapid death. But how far does the victim have to fall? Here’s the ‘science’.Hangman's knot  A number of different methods have been described depending on the era and ‘expertise’ of the executioner.

Suspension hanging is, as the name suggests, simply a hanging of the victim by a rope around the neck which compresses windpipe and blood vessels, depriving the brain of oxygen and nutrition – death ensues…usually not very quickly.

The short drop is a practical, ‘wild west’ type of execution where the prisoner, with noose around the neck, is stood on a cart or chair which is subsequently removed. The victim dangles and dies of suffocation within 10-20 minutes. A variant of this is the Austro-Hungarian pole method where the prisoner is hoisted to the top of a pole by his chest and feet then ‘let loose’ with a rope around the neck.

The standard drop was instituted in England in 1866, where the ‘standard’ was 4 to 6 feet of fall, usually, but not always, resulting in the bony injury of the hangman’s fracture and rapid death.

The long (or measured) drop was brought into practice in Britain in 1872 based on calculations of the prisoner’s height and weight to determine how far a fall was needed to break the neck but not cause decapitation (more disturbing to the on-lookers than watching the victim die from strangulation). The position of the knot was important and became part of the ‘science’ in judicial hangings. Taking weight and height into account, the calculation was aimed at applying between 1000 and 1300 pound-feet of force (4400-5600 newtons) to the neck.

Despite this ‘science’, hangings did not always turn out as planned. Sometimes the victim died slowly (and obviously painfully) from strangulation or the force to the neck was such that the head was torn off (the end result (death) was the same but nobody liked the mess). Generally, suicide by hanging is of the suspension type, resulting in a slow death by strangulation.

Whenever a judicial hanging was carried out, there was always one man who was in charge – the hangman. Not always well-versed (especially before the 1800s) in the science of hanging, the hangman did not always succeed at achieving a successful execution

Perhaps the most famous executioner/hangman was Jack (John) Ketch, executioner for King Charles II of England from 1663 to 1686, although the dates as to when he started and ended his career are not entirely clear (he died in November of 1686). Ketch carried out execution by hanging and probably more frequently by beheading and became infamous for his ‘less than perfect’ slice of the axe that often required more than one hit to severe the head off his victim.

Execution of Duke of Monmouth by Jack Ketch

Discover  novels by Robin C. Rickards at for download onto any e-reader and at Amazon Kindle:

The Judas Kiss
The Organ Donors
Whip the Dogs
The Tao of the Thirteenth God


Next week, we’ll get to know JD Mader, an awesome crime fiction author with a mean streak.


In crime on May 7, 2012 at 6:05 am

Robin is an orthopaedic surgeon and independent author born in Hudson, Quebec, Canada. He now resides in Vancouver,  British Columbia. Robin writes novels about controversial fictional events; events that could truly unfold if mankind were to explore, use, or abuse the further applications of bio-medicine.

More novels by Robin Rickards soon to appear
The Tao of the Thirteenth God
Whip the Dogs
The Organ Donors
Amadeus and Theo Savoie are twins, the products of a childhood torn apart by religion, abandonment and suicide.  Amadeus has ‘contacted’ their long-dead sister Sophia and begins an investigation into a mass suicide cult in Belize. With his partner, Dr. Angelica Pali, Amadeus sifts his way through a maze of religious rituals with all signs pointing to the convergence of a religious and scientific apocalypse.
Whip the Dogs    by Robin C Rickards
Price: $2.99 USD. 124520 words. Published on January 6, 2012. Fiction.
Dr. Michael Andross is a narcotics addict, the victim of abandoned military technology. Each day of his life, he is watched – in the beginning, by the people who used him but now also by the people who stole the technology. Andross has become a pawn in a game of military bluster between the United States of America and a desperate North Korea.
The Judas Kiss    by Robin C Rickards 
Price: $1.99 USD. 45780 words. Published on August 8, 2011. Fiction.
A passionate story of life and death, told through the eyes of a dying man, the sole survivor of an ill-fated trip to immortality.
Robin Rickards guest post tomorrow. Don’t miss it!


In crime on May 1, 2012 at 6:26 am

Most people live life by routine and are used to the experiences that they feel day to day. Of course life is filled with surprises that often enhance our emotions, but often these enhanced feelings don’t have to be waited on, they can be planned.

Books are often the solution. The words allow us to experience things one wouldn’t normally experience and it breaks up our day-to-day routine. It provides entertainment, escape, and evokes emotions, as each sentence connects to another, and as each paragraph builds on the other.

When it comes to crime fiction, it brings along a special ingredient – to be part of a world that normally a person wouldn’t dare approach let alone enter.

It yanks the reader out of their comfort zone and places them in the extreme, and often the unknown. Even though it provides the vital experiences one would want from a book, it is delivered in an arena that is foreign which allows for intrigue and gives the reader another dimension than what can be offered from other types of books.

Crime stories often restore order to chaos, whether a police procedural or a gang story. Readers may or may not be aware that this is something they also want from a book; that is not just a story, but to know that even though the world is crazy, things will be ok, there is hope.

There are also many levels to crime fiction. When one looks deeper into a story, there is often a grain of truth to them, a subliminal message, that perhaps even the writer is not fully aware of and the full impact that their story can have. Sometimes this can be soul searching, or even a message about the society that we live in.

This is why character is so important, and vital in crime stories. Suspense and thrills are needed, however character is what sticks with the reader and what they grab onto when entering the storm.

Crime stories shouldn’t only be read but they should be pondered and discussed, as there is much to be discovered beneath the ride of the narrative, the detailed descriptions, and sharp dialogue.

Hardit Singh
Next week, we’ll have a completely novelty take on crime. Don’t miss Robin Rickards!