My current mystery-in-progress has my lovely and determined amateur sleuth working a temp job in a detective agency. Hence, a need to actually know what tools are at a PI’s disposal… not just BS my way through it. So I perused my own bookshelf, and came up with a really fabulous book… Missing Persons: A Writer’s Guide to Finding the Lost, the Abducted, and the Escaped. This is totally on point as my amateur sleuth is looking for a missing person (while in her personal life, trying to solve a murder). Trust me, the two plot lines are separate, but solving one crime will give my protagonist the insight she needs to solve the other.
Anyway, I am chugging through this book, making lots of little notes, dreaming up ways to make the chapters I’ve already written more believable and hitting upon a way to keep from solving the missing person case in the first 15 minutes.
The author is fantastic – Fay Faron was the owner of the Rat Dog Dick Detective Agency (they never give up) and she’s not only unravelled skabillions of mysteries, but was actually responsible for sending a gypsy ring of con artists who abused the elderly and inform to jail. Downside: It was written in 1997.
That means she’s talking about getting phone records on disk, referencing the three primary credit agencies as they used to be compiled, complaining about the impact of the recent forced break-up of the telephone companies, etc., while at the same time not taking account of the big impact things like Google and Facebook would have on the PI game.
So – is there a new edition of the book? No. Writer’s Digest, which published this absolutely useful tome, doesn’t have a new version, and they don’t have anything similar. (Two books on police investigation, but that’s not the same.) A Google search shows that Ms. Faron is retired now and has sold her agency to her former associate, Ann Flaherty. And while Ms. Flaherty has a “contact us” form on her site, I’m not sure she’d be too thrilled to get a prying email from me basically asking to pick her brain for free. I’ve gotten info online – but how accurate is it?
Any suggestions are welcome, from a reference book to your Uncle Phil’s phone number (assuming Uncle Phil’s in the PI business).