Thursday, 16 May 2019

Being a Detective by Stephen Wade and Stuart Gibbon

Being a Detective (A Straightforward Guide)
By Stephen Wade and Stuart Gibbon
Straightforward Publishing (25 March 2019)

Publisher's description
A Straightforward Guide to Being a Detective An A-Z Readers and Writers Guide to Detective Work Past and Present is an essential research companion for all writers of crime fiction and non-fiction. In all genres of popular crime writing today, detective characters figure prominently. What is the life of a detective actually like? What was it like in 1890 or 1990? Former detective Stuart Gibbon and crime historian Stephen Wade answer these questions in this new companion guide. This new volume provides an ideal companion volume to the authors' previous book, The Crime Writer's Casebook.

My verdict
Being a Detective is yet another fascinating book for crime readers and writers, from former detective Stuart Gibbon and crime historian Stephen Wade. It's subtitled 'A Crime Writers' and Readers' A-Z of Detective Work Past and Present'.

Arranged in an A to Z form, the book is easy to dip into, and I found myself learning plenty of new facts each time. It's written in a chatty style with some highly technical topics explained in the right tone of voice for the layperson and personal insights from the authors. The book is bang up-to-date (e.g. number spoofing, contactless card fraud, shoulder surfing, drones) but historical context is included too.

The topics in the book are highly varied, from Body Language Forensics and Cashpoint Robbery Crimes to Training to Become a Detective and You're Nicked. I loved the case studies dotted strategically throughout the book bringing the facts to life.

Crime writers will find this book particularly useful, whether it's as a starting point for new ideas or a resource for the right facts, procedures and terminology. When I was in my late teens (and early 20s) and first realised I wanted to write crime fiction, I collected the American 'Howdunit' series of books, with topics including cause of death, deadly doses and scene of the crime. I still have the series but the books are not only US-focused but also very out of date. Two brilliant Straightforward Guides are already available (the first one being called The Crime Writer's Casebook), and this is turning into an essential bookshelf series. I hope there's another one on its way!

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