Friday, May 29, 2015

Review: The Crime Writer's Guide to Police Practice and Procedure, Second Edition by Michael O'Byrne

The Crime Writer's Guide to Police Practice and Procedure, Second Edition* by Michael O'Byrne, March 2015, 192 pages, Robert Hale Ltd, ISBN: 0719816629

Reviewed by Amanda Gillies.
(Read more of Amanda's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

This fascinating, information-packed book is a must-have for anyone wanting to write crime fiction. It is more of a reference book than something to read from cover-to-cover and contains everything that crime writers might want to include in their police procedurals. The book is indexed, referenced, has a comprehensive listing of contents and a very useful acronym glossary at the back. There are no longer any excuses for crime writers who make mistakes through not doing their research before writing their books!

I was particularly interested in the forensics and DNA analysis section. Coming from a molecular biology background, a sure-fire way to put me off a book is to have wildly inaccurate DNA work in it. This particular chapter was first rate! The other chapters include topics such as: how the investigation begins in reality; profiling; the tools available to the police (like HOLMES); catching serial killers and what exactly is ‘use of reasonable force’.

Although I am not considering turning my hand to writing a book any time soon, I really enjoyed reading this Writer’s Guide. Its author, Michael O’Byrne, is himself a former policeman and his last position before retiring was Chief Constable in Bedfordshire, so he most definitely knows what he is talking about!

This book should be an essential on the bookshelf of every crime writer and is most definitely worth delving into for general interest’s sake as well. If you like finding out how things work, just for the pleasure of knowing, then this book is for you!

Highly recommended.

Amanda Gillies, May 2015

*The First Edition was reviewed in 2009.

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