Those of you who write hardboiled, where do you go for research? I am especially interested in researching post war years and police and private detective investigations procedures.
ARe there any good non-fiction books out there?
thank you so much for that! I love the post war years. Late forties--detective fiction and I am a stickler for truth. If I write about a PI I want to know everything I can about how that PI operated. what were the laws like then, and so on what kind of cases did they take. how closely did they work if at all with police. . as i imagine there is more freedom (information) today. I certainly will take a look at your suggestions. again, thanks1
There's all sorts of places for that sort of research. I wrote a non-fiction book - Wrong Side of the Wall - that deals in great detail with the years 1945-50 in Los Angeles. Local newspapers - at the library on microfilm - were of course a fantastic resource, as were a number of police memoirs written during the period. A good place on the web is the 1947 project: http://1947project.blogspot.com/ That site has a ton of information on it, as well as links and mentions of sources that you can go to yourself.
For my new police procedural series, set in a small town in the Interior of British Columbia, I was lucky enough to make contacts in a small town police department. I just wrote to firstname.lastname@example.org and they wrote back. They answered my questions by e-mail and when I came out to B.C. I paid them a visit. I got a tour of the police station, and went out on the beat twice with them. Nothing like hands on research!
Wow, that was lucky. Even though I have lived in England for more than twenty years, I still write as an American. It's me and I can't write with an English voice. I can for short stories but not for novels.
Thank you for your reply, though.
I'm also working on a novel set in the U.S. in the early fifties. I've been having a blast doing research. What others have recommended here have worked for me, too--contacting the police department where your story is set (there's usually some kind of police historian out there) and the library (newspapers and special collections--I found statistics of the types of crimes in a certain city, the opening of a new police headquarters with photos). There are also some great links to academic papers online. I had to pay $15 for one article but it was totally worth it because it was exactly about the subject I was researching, including descriptions of clothing, etc.
I asked the Queen of crime labs, Jan Burke, for resources about crime detection in the Fifties and she recommended Jurgen Thorwald's The CENTURY OF THE DETECTIVE and Paul L. Kirk's THE CRIME LABORATORY: Organization and Operation. These books are pretty detailed and I'm taking small bites out of these as I go along.
I've mentioned this on another post, but I've been reading a bunch of noir written by women during the last forties and fifties. This has been an immense help in immersing myself during the time period.