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The Crime Writer's Reference Guide

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The Crime Writer's Reference Guide

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The Crime Writer's Reference Guide
Revised Edition
1001 Tips for Writing the Perfect Murder
By Martin Roth
Studio City, CA: Michael Wiese Productions, 2003
ISBN: 0-941188-49-3

Reviewed by Sheldon Ztvordokov - Posted August 21, 2012

When writing a mystery, or any story for that matter, it is vitally important that you get your facts straight. Granted, writers do have a degree of creative license when it comes to inventing weapons, poisons, and investigative techniques. However, it is the real life artifacts and techniques that best connect with readers. By interweaving accurate descriptions of weapons, police nomenclature, and investigation techniques into your mystery, you not only add color to your story, but also authenticity. On the other hand, making a mistake with something as small as calling a criminalist a criminologist can make you loose all credibility with some readers - or worse, with any potential agents or editors that might be considering your work.

Finding all the information you need to keep your story realistic can require a lot of research. Or, you can take the easy route and refer to The Crime Writer's Reference Guide - 1001 Tips for Writing the Perfect Murder, by Martin Roth. This handy reference book contains all the basics that you will need to give your story the required air of expertise - and should you need more in-depth information, Roth provides a plethora of resources that you can use to further your research.

The revised edition of The Crime Writer's Reference Guide is divided into seven chapters covering crime, criminals, cops, investigations, the courts, prisons, and language. Each chapter includes lists of terms related to each topic, with detailed descriptions of certain terms and activities such as what the first officer on the scene of a murder is suppose to do and what the U.S. Marshal's Service is and does. In addition, you'll also find a host of charts covering everything from how the Cincinnati Police Division is organized to substances commonly used for non-medical purposes. Many of the charts and information provided in this book where provided by the organization to which the information pertains.

The Crime Writer's Reference Guide is an outstanding, and informative reference book that will aid anyone interested in writing more realistic mysteries and crime stories. Two aspects of the book which I found particularly useful where the definitions of slang terms - both that of the police and criminals, as well as Roth's tips on how to avoid common mistakes when writing about crimes. Tips are offered throughout this book that will help you use the information in the book correctly and effectively. Part dictionary, part encyclopedia, and part guide book, The Crime Writer's Reference Guide will prove invaluable to anyone writing mystery or crime stories. Best of all, just by skimming through the wealth of information contained in this book you are bound to develop a host of new story ideas!



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