Detecting good fiction

You want to talk about seeds? Detective fiction is planting some really good ideas in me. Most recently, I read The Black Echo, the first in the Harry Bosch series, by Michael Connelly. [I know I’m way late to the game.] My husband started watching Bosch on Amazon and I caught the first season, but dropped off somewhere (I might’ve been in an editing cave). Now, I have to go back and watch Season 2 and 3 because I am fascinated by police procedurals.

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My next manuscript is going to be a teenage riff on detective fiction. Like a quirky, Poconos version of Veronica Mars. And while, I think I have a handle on the process of sleuthing, there are characteristics of a good detective I need to remember. For example, Harry Bosch misses nothing. He understands the business of crime. He knows when a witness is lying, even if he can’t ascertain why at that moment. He subverts the rules when it justifies the outcome. He questions motives. He sees what others don’t. He’s not just a good cop, he’s an astute one.

The most liberating thing about writing teenage detectives is that I don’t need to know the nitty gritty about law and police work. Michael Connelly was a crime beat reporter for the LA Times. When you follow Bosch on an investigation, you feel like a cop. The details are spot on. I like that, but I don’t have the skillset right now to do it. For my teenage sleuth though, she needs to be smart like a detective. She needs to be methodical, and she needs to ask questions. She needs to lay out various scenarios based on the evidence she collects. And that, I feel, I can do (after edits and revisions, of course). If this project comes out as good as it seems in my head, I’ll have a real winner.

Who is your favorite detective? I’d like some recommendations.

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Author: Kimberly G. Giarratano

I'm a YA author. And mom of 3. I'm also tired. Very, very tired.

10 thoughts on “Detecting good fiction”

  1. Great post, Kimberly! For those same reasons, I’m plotting an historical mystery. No cell phones. No CSI. Just smarts. My favorite detective for pure smarts would have to be Poirot or Miss Marple. You know who might be fun for you to watch? Agatha Raisin. She’s a cross between Hank P. Ryan and Catriona McPherson, and she’s hysterically funny. On Amazon.

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  2. Favorite detectives? Of course the classics: Poirot, Holmes. As far as amateurs, Nancy Drew, Miss Marple, I like Zoe Chambers (and her cop friend Pete Adams). Jane Ryland. I’m becoming a fan of Ingrid Thoft’s Fina Ludlow. All these folks have one thing in common: they’re smart. I think you’re right in that might be one of the most important attributes of a sleuth – amateur or pro.

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  3. Tough question! Some of my favorites are C.J. Box’s Joe Pickett and Julia Spencer-Fleming’s pair of sleuths. For smarts, I love Mme Ramotswe and Inspector Singh. I know I’m leaving someone out??

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  4. Anna Pigeon for sure, and yes, to Julia Spenser-Fleming’s pair too, name escapes and it’s getting late. So many I can’t count them. Rizolli and Ives. OMG, how could I almost forget them? But, I want to point something out that a lot of people, especially writers miss – I spent time working with cops, as a civilian. They can spot a liar a mile away. As long as the liar is a mile away. To a man and woman, they were vulnerable to believing the lies told by those closest to them.

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  5. Okay… made a note of Agatha Raisin. I LOVED Veronica Mars. I just finished Bosch Season 3 and in my opinion that one was the best by far. And great point, Kait… hard to spot a lie sometimes when it’s close and personal.

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