How realistic are television CSI programs? Author Merit Clark is my guest today, giving us the scoop on what it's really like inside a homicide department.
Thank you so much Catherine for inviting me to your blog!
Recently, thanks to a friend of mine, I had the opportunity for an unofficial visit to Denver Homicide. I think you have to be a complete mystery author geek to find this exciting, but I might as well have been going backstage at the Oscars and meeting George Clooney.
First of all, to use a TV comparison, their office is more like ‘Murder in the First’ than ‘Major Crimes.’ And of course not glitzy like any of the CSIs at all. It’s pretty much a basic office—dark blue carpet (maybe blue for police?), cubicles, desks with overhead storage, fluorescent lights. In another difference from TV, the interview rooms were pretty nice. No two way mirrors but they do have cameras and there’s a viewing room with multiple monitors where interviews in progress can be watched by other detectives.
There were NO photos of victims, bodies, or crime scenes. There were no holographic images they could stretch with their bare hands into thin air. There were jokes, a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon re-written with detective names and dialogue, and a really funny photo of a skinny guy being cuffed by a hugely overweight officer with the caption “Dude! Should I make him chase me?” Every desk was loaded with piles of paper, binders, folders, reporter’s notebooks, reports, documents, etc., etc.
I can also attest to the fact that Denver has some very nice looking detectives. Hey, a girl’s got to notice what’s important! They joked around with each other and they all just seemed really . . . nice. I don’t know what I was expecting but there wasn’t that cop ‘stiffness’ for lack of a better word.
When I started doing research for my books I was really intimidated by approaching members of law enforcement. Maybe because in my head police officers and detectives are behind this impenetrable barrier, in a figurative fortress. Their procedures are mysterious and they have power I don’t understand. I met some “real life” detectives and was surprised by their personalities and demeanor. I could have been in any office, other than the fact that they were armed and more clean cut than the general population, which I personally like. I didn’t see piercings, visible tattoos, stretched out ears, or ‘fauxhawks!’
Merit Clark is the author of the Jack Fariel detective mysteries set in Denver. The first book in the series, KILLING STREAK, took first place Gold Medal at the 2015 Colorado Independent Publishers Association (CIPA) EVVY Book Awards and was a quarter-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel contest. KILLING INNOCENCE, book two in the series, is scheduled for a 2016 release.
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