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O'Byrne, Michael - 'The Crime Writer's Guide to Police Practice and Procedure'
Paperback: 176 pages (Apr. 2009) Publisher: Robert Hale Ltd ISBN: 0709086318

A short book that does what it says on the cover, at least for UK policing, and as it's written by an ex-policeman, is likely to be accurate. It has a range of information from the use of forensics in investigations to the usefulness (or not) of profiling and the rules and regulations surrounding arrests.

Although its main focus is on UK policing, there are a few interesting comparisons with policing elsewhere. For example, in the UK, it is apparently acceptable for the police to try to find a way around the law and even break it, if it is for the common good, including breaking into a suspect's house to see what they can find. In contrast, evidence obtained this way would not be allowed at trial in the US.

The most interesting parts of the book for the general reader are the anecdotes about various famous and infamous investigations, such as the Dennis Nilsen and Peter Sutcliffe (the Yorkshire Ripper) cases. I also enjoyed Michael's reflections on his favourite crime writers at the end of the book. Intriguingly, a lot of the police procedures described seemed very familiar already, possibly because so many crime writers actually do their homework properly and already depict police procedure accurately. I'm sure that a lot of the information could also be easily obtained from the web, and indeed Michael has quite a few recommendations for useful websites for further information. Despite this, this book is likely to be a useful reference source to anyone thinking about writing a crime fiction novel.

Michelle Peckham, England
November 2009

Crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 8/11/2009 12:36