Crime Writing Resources

Nancy J. Cohen

While researching my mysteries, I often need information that you can’t go around asking writer friends in public. Imagine discussing these topics in a restaurant. What kind of poison can I use that will kill someone right away and is easily obtainable? How can I stage a crime scene by hanging the victim to make it look like a suicide? Does firing a .38 give much of a recoil? What happens when a detective is personally involved in a murder case? What kind of poisonous snake can I have the bad guy put in my hero’s suitcase? Often, I’ll need specific advice to help me set the scene with as much authenticity as possible.

Fortunately, mystery writers have a range of resources available besides your friendly cop on the local force. These are some of the sites where you can get useful information and answers to your research questions. Also listed are well-known mystery conferences. Check out the links. They’ll lead you to informative websites and blogs.

Bright Blue Line: http://scottsilverii.com/
Bouchercon: http://www.bouchercon.info
Crime Scene Writer: http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/crimescenewriter/
Florida Chapter of MWA: http://www.mwaflorida.org/
Florida Sisters in Crime: http://floridasistersincrime.com/
Independent Mystery Booksellers Association: http://www.mysterybooksellers.com
In Reference to Murder: http://www.inreferencetomurder.com/
International Thriller Writers: http://thrillerwriters.org/
Killer Nashville: http://www.killernashville.com/
Kiss of Death: http://www.rwamysterysuspense.org
Left Coast Crime: http://www.leftcoastcrime.org
Malice Domestic: http://www.malicedomestic.org
Murder Must Advertise: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MurderMustAdvertise/
Mystery Writers of America: http://www.mysterywriters.org
Sisters in Crime: http://www.sistersincrime.org
SleuthFest: http://www.mwaflorida.org/sleuthfest.htm
The Graveyard Shift: http://www.leelofland.com/wordpress/
Thrillerfest: http://www.thrillerfest.com/
The Writer’s Forensic Blog: http://writersforensicsblog.wordpress.com/
Write Crime Right: http://writecrimeright.blogspot.com/
Writers Police Academy: http://www.writerspoliceacademy.com/

Note that most of these are listed in my writing guide, Writing the Cozy Mystery.

Writing the Cozy Mystery

What sites do you find helpful in your crime-related research?

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29 thoughts on “Crime Writing Resources

  1. Nice list, Nancy. Thank you. Many of my favs. I have a small forensics/crime scene analysis personal library I use when needed. Doug Lyle’s Forensics for Dummies is a good one I’d recommend. I’d also add his blogsite link to your list. Since Doug is a writer AND a doctor, he answers questions on his blog site dealing with gun shot wounds, poisoning, & general mayhem from a medical perspective.

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  2. Adding another Thank you. And I can tell you from experience, if you ask those questions while talking to a police captain in a restaurant, you do get very strange looks. 🙂

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  3. Great list. I have used our Alaska State Troopers for a lot of questions related more than just crime. They’ve helped me keep it real when discussing specific areas of the Alaskan bush.

    In addition to crime writing, if you military thrillers like me various military organizations ranging from VFW (Veteran’s of Foreign Wars) or any of the Special Forces / SEAL / Marine Corps Associations are frequently willing to help out to make sure you get details right.

    Never be afraid to ask for help in research, it can make the difference in story quality.

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    • People are usually very helpful and eager to respond when you say you’re a writer doing research. Basil, I bet you could put together a good list of military resources? And don’t forget your local citizens police academies.

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