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Author Archives: D.P. Lyle, MD

About D.P. Lyle, MD

Author, Lecturer, Story Consultant

Guest Blogger: Sergeant Adam Plantinga: Fiction Versus Reality

As a novelist, one of your main jobs is to keep the story moving. And if your story deals with law enforcement, you probably don’t want to get too bogged down in the minutiae of police procedure. But you also want to present a narrative that rings true to life. It’s a bit of a balancing act. So to assist in this endeavor, I have put together nine key differences between fiction and reality as it pertains to cop stuff. Where applicable, I have also added a possible explanation, or an “out” if you really need that fictional element for the sake of a dramatic story arc. Because, after all, reality can be downright boring.

1. Fiction: The private investigator works closely with the local police force to help them solve the big case.

Reality: In thirteen years as a cop working in two different jurisdictions, I have never once had a meaningful exchange with a private investigator. Neither has anyone I know. In fact, on many murder cases, homicide detectives won’t even share everything they know with other police officers, fearing that the info might leak and compromise an ongoing investigation.

Possible explanation: Quite a few, I think. You just have to sell them. Perhaps the P.I. is an ex-cop who has helped the police before, so he has earned some street cred, like Robert B. Parker’s Spenser. Or maybe the police are on a tough case and are desperate for leads. Or your character is a witness or victim of the crime the police are investigating, so he or she is already deeply involved in the case (Lee Child’s Jack Reacher ends up in this position quite a bit). Whatever the case, there probably should still be some mistrust or even animosity between the two parties. The cops might throw a few investigative tidbits your P.I.’s way but perhaps they shouldn’t fully embrace him.

2. Fiction: The lone detective doggedly pursues the serial killer and confronts him alone, insisting “there’s no time for backup.” And if he does call for backup, it takes an incredibly long time for help to arrive, long enough for the hero to resolve the situation completely on his own.

Reality: There’s time for backup. It’s bad business to go after killers alone. You typically have a partner and you often enlist a SWAT team to do the heavy lifting. And if you get on the radio and call for help, your fellow cops will drop whatever they’re doing and come to your side. It’s like the bell-ringing scene at the end of Witness. They’ll get there quickly, and they will be out of breath when they arrive, because they had been running to reach you. 

Possible explanation: The hero tries to call for other units but his handheld radio gets damaged in a struggle with the suspect. Or he’s followed the bad guy into another jurisdiction where his signal is out of range. Or his partner gets wounded and can’t go on. I think it’s okay to get creative here. After all, if you spend your whole book setting up an epic confrontation between the hero cop and villain, only to have the hero step aside in the end so some anonymous SWAT team can take the villain into custody without incident, your readers may feel a bit cheated.

3. Fiction: The cops get DNA results back from the lab in three days.

Reality: I had a burglary that happened in November and I got DNA results from the scene the following July, which was actually pretty quick for San Francisco. Even for homicides, which are fast-tracked, the quickest turnaround for DNA results is probably going to be one to three weeks.

Possible explanation: Maybe your jurisdiction just received a federal grant to hire a team of new lab techs. Or your story simply takes place in a fictional universe where DNA results come back faster than they do in real life. That’s okay. Fiction allows you certain freedoms; your protagonist is probably better-looking and drops more clever one-liners than any real cop anyway. 

4. Fiction: The cop confronts a gunman and tells him to drop his weapon. If the bad guy doesn’t drop it, the cop often will warn him again.

Reality: Odds are the cop will shoot that guy right away. That is what police training dictates. As a firearms instructor once told me, “What are you waiting for? This guy has a gun, he’s ten feet away, and you’ve got no cover. Shoot him.” Warnings are fine when practical, the instructor explained, but action always beats reaction so the bad guy can plug you before you can even get a “Drop the” out of your mouth. So shoot instead of chat. And, he continued, if you feel so strongly about saying “Drop the gun,” say it to the guy after you’ve fired.

5. Fiction: As soon as the handcuffs go on, the cop immediately reads the suspect his Miranda rights.

Reality: As a police officer, you are required to read someone their rights only after they are in police custody and you are about to interrogate them about an offense. Custody plus interrogation equals Miranda, not before.  It is often tactical to wait to Mirandize a guy for a while because the offender may make a spontaneous, incriminating statement prior to formal interrogation.

6. Fiction: Your hero jumps in his ultra-efficient, lightning-fast police cruiser and chases the suspect vehicle through a dozen jurisdictions. The pursuit only comes to a halt after the hero rams the suspect car and shoots out its tires.

Reality: While suspects may drive as recklessly as they wish, as a police officer, you have to drive with “due regard.” This means at each intersection, you have to slow to look for oncoming traffic and take it easy on the hot-dogging, even if you have your lights and siren on. Also, pursuit policies vary by department, but generally speaking, you are only allowed to pursue violent felons and even then, you’re not allowed to ram them. You may deploy spike strips to puncture the fleeing vehicle’s tires, but you’re not supposed to shoot out tires because firing at a moving vehicle is far more dangerous than practical. And there’s always a supervisor listening to the chase on the radio who will terminate the pursuit if it sounds like things are getting out of hand.  Also, in a pursuit, the suspect vehicle may just flat outrun you. Police patrol cars aren’t anything special. Their most exotic feature is anti-lock brakes, which let you steer even in a skid, but they don’t have turbo-charged engines or double-reinforced tires. They’re just big cars made in Detroit, painted in police colors with some lights slapped on them. Sometimes their transmissions blow right in the middle of the chase.

Possible explanation: If your protagonist is chasing a murder suspect, the monitoring supervisor will likely let the pursuit go until the wheels fall off. And if it is an especially heinous murder, perhaps the supervisor will authorize the use of extreme measures to capture your quarry. Just know that if your hero elects to ram the suspect vehicle, it is often considered a use of deadly force—the same as if the hero fired a full clip at the bad guy.

7. Fiction: The cop protagonist recovers fingerprints off just about anything: rocks, stucco walls, quesadillas.

Reality: There are only a few surfaces conducive to the retrieval of fingerprints. Non-coated glass gives you the best shot, but many painted items are also good. Glossy paper and some metals, particularly aluminum, have a decent chance. I’ve heard of prints being taken off live plants before, and Band-Aids. But the list of surfaces where fingerprints don’t show up is longer, and includes undressed wood, bricks, cloth, and, well, most everything else. If a suspect touches a dusty surface, he’ll just remove dust instead of leaving a print and the kind of hard plastic most electronics are made of don’t tend to hold prints because of their textured surface. Also people leave more prints when it’s humid out and their fingers are oily than when it’s cold and their hands are dry. Manual laborers or workers who deal with chemicals for a living often have hands so gnarled and scuffed from their jobs that they couldn’t leave prints at a crime scene if they tried. And then there are, of course, burglars who merely wear gloves, which you can buy for two and a half bucks at any retail outlet and foil the ID tech.

Potential explanation: I’m not really sure. Maybe your fictional CSI team is just that good.

8. Fiction: The cop hero gleans valuable information from a street hooker, who is his informant and perhaps even his love interest. The hooker is alluring, funny, helpful and well-adjusted.

Reality: The vast majority of street prostitutes are out there on the corner because they’re hopelessly addicted to narcotics and selling themselves means earning quick cash to get high. You will likely never encounter a street hooker with a sense of humor, or an athletic, winsome one with a heart of gold like Jamie Lee Curtis in Trading Places. Real prostitutes have faces so ravaged by street life—pockmarks, sores, caked-on makeup—that it’s hard to look at them. They smell bad. They twitch. They have head lice. Drug addiction has made their daily existence lethargic and bleak, like the final stages of a progressive disease.

9. Fiction: The detectives locate the killer through some exotic means—like the suspect leaving behind traces of rare clay unique to a small fishing village in New Brunswick. Or they find an obscure clue on a surveillance tape that leads them to their man. (“Okay, Ned, play it back. Now forward. Freeze on that!”)

Reality: Criminals are caught because they impulsively shoot someone in front of multiple witnesses. Or because they accidentally drop their wallet containing their ID at the scene of the crime. Or because they tell their crackhead pals about the carjacking they committed and are subsequently turned in for the Crimestoppers reward. Basically they are caught because they’re idiots.

Possible explanation: I wouldn’t sweat this one too much. As a writer, you have some room to operate here. Such exotic and obscure clues can be fun to read about and they propel the story forward. I say let ’em rip.

Adam Plantinga

Adam Plantinga is a sergeant on the San Francisco Police Department and the author of the just-released book 400 Things Cops Know, available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, local booksellers, and from the publisher, Quill Driver Books

 

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Posted by on September 1, 2014 in Guest Blogger, Police Procedure

 

Suspense Radio Interview Saturday August 30th at 8:30 a.m. PDT

I’ll be on Suspense Radio with John Raab on Saturday, August 30 at 8:30 a.m. PDT. We will discuss my attest Samantha Cody thriller ORIGINAL SIN, snake-handling preachers, and other fun stuff. Join us if you can and if not you can catch it later as all Suspense Radio shows are archived.

Suspense Radio:   http://www.blogtalkradio.com/suspensemagazine

Live Broadcasts:   http://www.blogtalkradio.com/live

 

 

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Posted by on August 29, 2014 in Writing

 

Join My Author TweetChat Tuesday August, 26 at 8 p.m. EDT

I’ll be doing a TweetChat on Tuesday 8-26-14 from 8 to 9 p.m. EDT (5 to 6 p.m. PDT) to chat about writing and my latest Samantha Cody thriller ORIGINAL SIN. Join the discussion and you might win one of two signed copies of ORIGINAL SIN I’ll be giving away during the chat. It’ll be fun.

How do you join a TweetChat? It’s easy and simple. Go to http://www.tchat.io/ and sign in with your Twitter account. Then enter the hashtag #AuthorTweetChat. At 8 PM (EDT) the conversation will begin. All you have to do is watch the conversation. @AuthorTweetChat and our social business influencer @brianmoran will ask DP Lyle questions and he will respond with Tweets. If you want to join the conversation, enter a Tweet in the designated area and tchat.io will post your message for you. 

In Summary:

1-Go to http://www.tchat.io

2-Sign in with your Twitter account

3-Type in hashtag: #AuthorTweetChat

4-Watch and join the discussion

 

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Posted by on August 24, 2014 in Uncategorized, Writing

 

DP Lyle on Investigation Discovery’s Deadly Affairs

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Set your DVRs for the ID Channel show Deadly Affairs Saturday night 8-23-14 at 9 p.m. EDT. I was asked to discuss this horrible crime that took place in Irvine, CA, a very few miles from my home. A chilling crime story.

Watch the promo trailer at the link below—-after an annoying commercial of course.

Details:

Program: Deadly Affairs

Episode Title: Swan Song

Air Date: August 23, 2014

Air Time: 9pm EDT/8pm CDT

Channel: Investigation Discovery (ID) 

Link to ID Show Schedule: http://www.investigationdiscovery.com/tv-shows/deadly-affairs/tv-schedule.htm

 
 

Crime and Science Radio This Saturday: An Interview With Barry A.J. Fisher, Past President of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences

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Crime and Science Radio: The Changing World of Forensic Science: An Interview With Barry A.J. Fisher, past president of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences

Join DP Lyle and Jan Burke for a discussion with Barry A.J. Fisher, who spent two decades as the director of the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s crime labs. We’ll talk about his career, the present and future state of forensic science, new legislation and and how  the public can help to ensure the betterment of forensic science services.

BIO: An internationally regarded forensic scientist and leader in his field, Barry A. J. Fisher retired from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s crime lab after a 40 year distinguished career, the last 20 as crime lab director. He was responsible for conceptualizing, planning and coordinating the new LASD/LAPD crime lab located at California State University named the Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center and the creation of the California Forensic Scince Institute.

Barry received his B.S. degree in chemistry from CCNY, his M.S. degree in organic chemistry from Purdue University and an M.B.A. from California State University, Northridge. He is a past president of the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors, past chair of the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors – Laboratory Accreditation Board, past president and distinguished fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences where he was awarded its highest honor, Gradwohl Medallion. He served as president of the International Association of Forensic Sciences and is a member of many other professional organizations including the IAI, CAC, TIAFT, CAT, and the IACP. 

His current interests concern the interrelationship between forensic science and the law along with public policy issues concerning the timely delivery of quality forensic support services to the criminal justice system. He served as a member of the American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section’s Ad Hoc Committee to Ensure the Integrity of the Criminal. 

He is a founding director and served on the Board of Directors of the National Forensic Science Technology Center from 1995 until 2007. Fisher is a member of several editorial boards:  the Journal of Forensic Sciences, the Journal of Forensic Identification, Forensic Science Policy and Management and the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology. Fisher is an alumni member of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents and a life member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police and was a member of the IACP’s Forensics Committee. 

His textbook, Techniques of Crime Scene Investigation, in its 8th edition, enjoys wide popularity.  He is a co-author of two other books, Forensics Demystified and An Introduction to Criminalistics: The Foundation of Forensic Science.

Fisher lectures throughout the United States, and has spoken in Canada, England, Australia, Singapore, France, Israel, Japan, China, Turkey and Portugal on forensic science laboratory practices, quality assurance and related topics.  In 2000, he led a forensic science delegation to lecture to forensic scientists in the People’s Republic of China.  In 2012, he was invited again to China to lecture on forensic science developments in the United States.

Since retiring, Fisher has consulted for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the United States Department of Justice, International Criminal Investigative Training Program (ICITAP) and Analytic Services Inc., a not-for-profit institute that provides studies and analyses to aid decision-makers in national security, homeland security, and public safety. He also consults on forensic science matters with Park Dietz and Associates.

Fisher, a native New Yorker, is married. He and his wife Susan reside in Indio in Riverside County, California. They have two married sons: David, a criminalist with the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner Forensic Biology Department, and Michael, an entrepreneur, and eight grandchildren.

LISTENhttp://www.blogtalkradio.com/suspensemagazine/2014/06/24/crime-and-science-radio-with-special-guest-barry-fisher

LINKS:

Announcement of Formation of the National Commission on Forensic Science

LASD Scientific Services Bureau

LAPD Scientific Investigation Division

American Academy of Forensic Sciences

American Society of Crime Lab Directors

American Society of Crime Lab Directors – Laboratory Accreditation Board

Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center

World Forensic Festival, Seoul, Korea, October 2014

International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program

National Academy of Sciences 2009 Study: Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States

National Forensic Science Technology Center

American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section

International Association of Chiefs of Police

American Bar Association Science and Technology Section

 

Mom Knows You’re Lying

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Remember how it seemed that your Mom always knew when you were lying? 

No, I swear, I didn’t do it. 

And then she’d give you that look. The one that melted all your protestations of innocence. Seems to be a universal thing.

In a recent article in Psychology Today, titled “A 9-Item Test to Find Out Who’s Lying to You,” Dr. Susan Krauss Whitbourne discusses the clues that reveal deception.

I’m sure my Mom knew all of these. Heck, she probably could have written this article.

 

Samantha Cody Is Back in ORIGINAL SIN

Today is the launch of my latest Samantha Cody thriller ORIGINAL SIN as well as the reprinting of the first two in the series DEVIL’s PLAYGROUND and DOUBLE BLIND.

 

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Available For Purchase: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MQ8Z0HC

Watch The Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKp7CFA_bOk&feature=youtu.be

 

ORIGINAL SIN:

Samantha Cody can’t stay away from trouble.

When Sam’s long time friend, Dr. Lucy Wagner finds her career, and even her life in jeopardy, ex-Deputy Sheriff and retired professional boxer Sam rushes to her aide.

Dr. Lucy Wagner was on top of her game, her cardiac surgical practice thriving, and her reputation impeccable at the Remington Medical Center in small-town Tennessee. Even the hospital’s new pediatric cardiac unit had been dedicated to her. But being at the apex of the local medical pyramid garnered her more than a few powerful enemies. 

Lucy’s spiral into darkness began when the spiritual founder and leader of a local snake-handling church died on her operating table. Strange fainting spells and nightmarish dreams followed. Those she could handle, almost, but when her post-op patients began exhibiting violent psychotic behaviors, Lucy knew it was time to call in the cavalry. 

Samantha Cody’s cop/boxer mind kicks into gear as she leads Lucy on a journey into the past and a confrontation with old and very powerful forces she never knew existed.

 

What Other Authors Are Saying:

In ORIGINAL SIN, the third Samantha Cody thriller, DP Lyle crafts a compelling story that finds Sam once again in a snake pit of intrigue and danger. This time a literal snake pit. Like the others in this series, complex characters, unexpected plot twists, and more than a dash of humor drive the story. Not to be missed—-David Morrell, New York Times bestselling author of Murder As A Fine Art

When it comes to heart-stopping suspense, heart-breaking emotion, and cold-hearted terror, nobody can top DP Lyle…and this is the thriller that proves it.  When a heart surgeon operates on a snake-charming preacher, she does more than cut open his flesh with her scalpel… she reveals a dark secret and unleashes a deadly power that could kill her unless ex-cop Samantha Cody can help her get to the truth—Lee Goldberg, Edgar nominated author of the Monk mysteries and co-author with Janet Evanovich of The Chase

D.P. Lyle has given us a winner with an intricate tale involving a small town in the South, a church with a deadly secret, a troubled surgeon, and a chilling deception spanning decades.  Original Sin flows as smooth and satisfying as the finest Tennessee Whiskey—Philip Donlay, acclaimed author of the Donovan Nash series of thrillers

D.P. Lyle writes with precision, pulling in the reader page by page with fantastic characters and gripping suspense. Original Sin is thoroughly thrilling and entertaining—Allison Brennan, NYT bestselling author

Retired Detective Samantha Cody returns to face her greatest challenge in D.P. Lyle’s superb new thriller, Original Sin. Cody is called upon to help her heart surgeon friend, Lucy Wagner, whose professional and personal lives turn chaotic after she operates on a snake-charming evangelist. Deftly plotted and expertly executed, Lyle is at the top of his game in a heart-pounding thriller. Sam Cody is a protagonist worth rooting for. Find a comfortable chair and plan to stay up late. Highly recommended—Sheldon Siegel. New York Times Best Selling Author of the Mike Daley/Rosie Fernandez Legal Thrillers

 

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Purchase DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND: http://www.amazon.com/Devils-Playground-Samantha-Cody-Book-ebook/dp/B00MQ8YTUG/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1408104986&sr=1-3

 

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Purchase DOUBLE BLIND: http://www.amazon.com/Double-Blind-Samantha-Cody-Book-ebook/dp/B00MQ8YYCY/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1408104930&sr=1-2

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2014 in Writing

 
 
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