Friday, September 22, 2006

Detective Novels

I don't read many private detective novels, mostly because they fail to depict reality. But, several years ago I visited Partners & Crime mystery bookstore on Greenwich Avenue in New York. I asked for any books about private investigators in New York City.

They pointed me to Lawrence Block's series on Matthew Scudder. Since that time, I've read them all, and enjoyed them. Some were better than others, of course. Familiar places made me feel like I was part of the stories. There were some locations, though, that I couldn't quite figure out.

Later, I met Block. He confessed that he made up some of the locations, a sort of composite.

The main difference between private detective novels and the real world is that the private detectives in these books usually work on criminal cases. Most private detectives don't work on criminal cases. Yes, there are some that specialize in criminal matters, but not that many. About 10% of our cases at Sherlock Investigations involve criminal matters.

Also, many private investigators don't carry guns. Those who are ex-cops sometimes do, but even some of them have hung up their weapons. I stopped carrying a pistol years ago, before I actually shot someone.

In most states, private detectives aren't allowed to carry badges. Along that line, in Massachusetts, where I'm also licensed, we're called Private Detectives. New York, though, thinks that "detective" sounds too official, so we're called Private Investigators here.

Private detective novels are often a fun read, but just don't believe everything you read.

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