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THE OC Selected As One Of October’s Best by The Providence Journal and Mystery Tribune

The Providence Journal

A sunny mystery in Southern California

Here’s a little secret: Some of the best and most fun books out there are written by authors who are anything but household names. Count D.P. Lyle among those, and the reasons why he deserves far more readers are clearly on display in THE OC.

This light mystery with a sharp edge stars series hero and former pro baseball player Jake Longly. Trouble always seems to find Jake, even when it’s the last thing he’s looking for. That’s exactly what happens when a vacation to Southern California’s Orange County pits him and longtime girlfriend Nicole Jamison against a stalker who’s targeted Nicole’s celebrity pal. A solid supporting cast is there to aid their efforts in a book that gets better and better as the pages fly by.—Jon Land

https://www.providencejournal.com/story/entertainment/arts/2021/10/15/jack-reacher-western-adventure-tops-list-best-october-thrillers/8440829002/

Mystery Tribune

THE OC by D. P. Lyle. Restaurant owner and former professional baseball player Jake Longly is hoping for a few weeks of fun with Nicole Jamison in the warm Orange County, CA sun—The OC, baby. After that, they’ll be on their way to LA for the filming of Nicole’s sure-to- be-a-hit screenplay.

On arrival, they discover that Nicole’s friend Megan Weatherly, a local TV reporter, has picked up an anonymous stalker. Megan downplays any real danger, but her new intern Abby, as well as Jake and Nicole, don’t agree. Bit by bit, as the harassment escalates and the shadowy man invades Megan’s world, Jake calls in the big guns from back home in Alabama: Ray and Pancake. But will Ray’s military black ops experience and Pancake’s technical skills be enough to expose the predator in time?

The stalker is no fool and likely has a predatory history. He makes no mistakes and manages to cover his trail completely. So, how do you identify and locate the untraceable? How do you protect Megan from a potentially lethal phantom?

Suddenly the sunshine and safety of The OC seem more facade than reality. Jake and crew must punch through that facade and dig into the dark world of celebrity stalking. The clock is ticking. 

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2021 in Writing

 

Cobras, Murder, and DNA

Does a snake make a good murder weapon? You bet. Sooraj Kumar tried to kill his wife with a cobra. The first time he didn’t get it right so he tried again. It worked. Fortunately, he was convicted.

https://www.newser.com/story/312130/on-2nd-try-he-killed-wife-with-a-snake.html

This isn’t a new idea. One ongoing argument is whether Cleopatra was murdered or took her own life with that poisonous asp. 

Then there’s the case of Ryan Felton Sauter. A clumsy attempt at best.

https://www.statesman.com/news/20180702/police-caldwell-county-man-uses-rattlesnake-in-neighbor-dispute

The late Glen Summerford, a snake-handling preacher, employed rattlesnakes in the attempted murder of his wife Darlene. He was also convicted. This took place about 50 miles from where I grew up so it resonated and I used this concept as I plotted my 3rd Samantha Cody thriller, ORIGINAL SIN.

I also used it in an early episode of my podcast Criminal Mischief: The Art and Science of Crime Fiction.

 

Looks At Books Review of THE OC

THE OC—Looks At Books Review

Power, personal relationships, and the price of celebrity

“The OC” by D.P. Lyle is a story of power, personal relationships, and the price of stardom. It is part of the “Jake Longly” series, but everything a new reader needs to know about this unique group of characters is included in the first few paragraphs. The story unfolds in Jake’s first-person narrative with some alternating chapters from other perspectives. The plot is conversation-driven and full of casual exchanges and friendly banter, but it is also heavy on the attitude. Jake talks to readers as if he were talking to friends over dinner and drinks – lots of drinks!  The fun and familiar people from the previous books return, and Jake and first-time filmmaker Nicole leave the Gulf Shores of Alabama to work in Sunny California.

Nicole’s rich and famous relatives and friends in the film industry provide the background as Nicole begins work on her first feature film, the action thriller “Murderwood.” The trip is also supposed to be a vacation of sorts — work mixed with relaxation on sunny beaches, but the group soon finds that Orange County, California is filled not only with fun, sun, and sand, but also with treachery, intrigue, and danger. Celebrity certainly has its perks and privileges, but it can hold peril as well.

“The OC” moves at a deliberate pace with an undercurrent of peril balanced with lighthearted celebrations. The story is about the characters; they do not just drop into the story; they are the story. I was given a review copy of “The OC” BY D. P. Lyle and Oceanview Publishing. While the conflict and its resolution are important to readers, “The OC” is really just an excuse to spend time with this group of colorful and entertaining characters.

DETAILS/ORDER: http://www.dplylemd.com/book-details/the-oc.html

LOOKS AT BOOKS: https://3no7.wordpress.com/2021/10/13/the-oc/

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2021 in Writing

 

LAUNCH PARTY for THE OC, Jake Longly #5

LAUNCH PARTY for THE OC, Jake Longly #5

Mystery Ink 

Sunday, 10-10-21 at 3 pm.

7552 Warner Ave. #101

Huntington Beach, CA

714-960-4000

http://www.mysteryink.com

THE OC Details: http://www.dplylemd.com/book-details/the-oc.html

 
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Posted by on October 8, 2021 in Writing

 

BookTrib Review of THE OC, Jake Longly #5

BOOKTRIB REVIEW
https://booktrib.com/2021/10/05/can-a-celebrity-stalker-outwit-this-snarky-ball-player-turned-private-eye/

In award-winning author D.P. Lyle’s newest detective thriller, The OC (Oceanview), former pro baseball player Jake Longly — reluctant private investigator, lover of women and irreverent smart-ass extraordinaire — once again finds himself in the middle of a tough investigation. 

Readers first met Jake and his girlfriend, Nicole Jamison, in Lyle’s novel Deep Six. Against his better judgment, Jake agreed to help his private-eye-dad Ray (head of Longly Investigations) with surveillance only to have the target murdered right under Jake’s nose. Not a great start. He probably should have just kept to his responsibilities owning a beachfront restaurant and bar — Captain Rocky’s — in his town of Gulf Shores, AL. 

VACATION GONE WRONG

Now, Jake and Nicole travel to the West Coast for the filming of Nicole’s new screenplay, Murderwood. Nicole has a home on Newport Beach in Orange County, CA — lovingly referred to as The OC. What should have been a fun and relaxing vacation turns anything but. Nicole’s best friend and local Channel 16 news anchor, Megan Weatherly, has a fan whose devotion is out of control, spiraling from innocuous infatuation to dangerous threat. 

For months, her admirer has sent Megan emails, texts and gifts expressing his affection; she believes he’s just overzealous. But when his communications become threatening and he invades her private space, Jake and Nicole convince Megan the situation is serious — she’s got an unstable stalker.

When Nicole was an actor, she’d had many experiences with stalker-fans and knows you have to put a stop to them. They need to find him, but Megan doesn’t know who he is or what he looks like.

THE PI POSSE ARRIVES

Jake and Nicole enlist the help of Ray, and Jake’s best friend Tommy “Pancake” Jeffers. Pancake is Longly Investigations’ computer wizard — a huge, red-haired eating machine who’s excellent at research and securing confidential information no one else can get. Ray and Pancake also bring the firepower.(Instead of carrying a gun, Jake travels with an assortment of baseballs he can use as weapons by throwing them at the bad guys … or sign for the occasional fan).

Everyone agrees that Megan’s situation is “some crazy shit,” number two on their PI hit parade. Their most disturbing case was when serial killer Billy Wayne Baker, living in Union Correctional in Raiford, FL, hired them to prove “he’d only killed five of the seven women he confessed to killing.”

Ray and Pancake join the group in Orange County to do the super- sleuthing while Jake and Nicole keep Megan close. As the case progresses, the team considers whether the stalker is a stranger or someone Megan knows but would never suspect. What they find is something they never expected.

LIFE’S A BEACH

The story takes readers into the realm of celebrity actors and producers, especially Nicole’s famed producer uncle, Charles Balfour, who is producing her movie. We experience the lavish Beverly Hills party thrown in Nicole’s honor, the sandy shores of Newport Beach with painted orange sunsets and sailboats bobbing in the Pacific, and the chili cheese omelets from the iconic restaurant Charlie’s Chili.

Although most of the book is narrated in the first person by Jake, Lyle elevates the tension with an unknown narrator taking us into the mind of the stalker. Readers will revel in the witty banter between Jake and Nicole. As Megan observes, they love to “word joust,” like “Tracy and Hepburn reborn.” Jake admits, “We did like to jab each other. Well, Nicole did most of the jabbing. She said I was a target- rich subject, whatever that meant. I was afraid to ask.”

Reminiscent of Nelson DeMille’s former NYC homicide detective character John Corey, Jake Longly’s sardonic quips will make you laugh out loud. Who doesn’t love a handsome, snarky knight-in- shining-armor who can throw a mean fastball?

DETAILS/ORDER: http://www.dplylemd.com/book-details/the-oc.html

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2021 in Writing

 

LAUNCH DAY for THE OC, Jake Longly #5

Join Jake, Nicole, Ray, and, of course, Pancake for the next adventure. This time in The OC.

DETAILS/ORDER: http://www.dplylemd.com/book-details/the-oc.html

Jake Longly is hoping for a few weeks of fun with Nicole in the warm Orange County, CA sun—The OC, baby—before hopping up to LA for the filming of Nicole’s sure-to-be-a-hit screenplay. But on arrival they discover that Nicole’s friend Megan Weatherly, a small-market local TV reporter, has picked up an anonymous stalker. Megan thinks he’s simply an infatuated fan but Jake and Nicole, as well Megan’s new intern Abby, also a past stalking victim, think he’s potentially dangerous. As the shadowy man escalates his harassment, becomes more threatening, and circles closer and closer to Megan’s world, Ray and Pancake arrive. Are Ray’s past military black ops experience and Pancake’s computer skills enough to expose the predator in time? 

The stalker is no fool and likely has past experience. He makes no mistakes and manages to cover his trail completely. So, how do you identify and locate the untraceable? How do you protect Megan from a potentially lethal phantom? 

Suddenly the sunshine and safety of The OC seem more facade than reality. Jake and crew must punch through that facade and dig into the dark world of celebrity stalking. The clock is ticking.

Publishers Weekly: Snappy patter lifts this bright look at a dark subject. Lyle should win new fans with this one.

Suspense Magazine: In this fifth book revolving around former baseball player Jake Longly, author D.P. Lyle has given readers yet another exciting, thrilling story in this already entertaining series. 

The dialogue, as always, is witty, fun and the characters wrap you up in a mystery that remains suspenseful through the very last word. I can’t wait for the next D.P. Lyle ride! 

Book Review Crew: This is a very entertaining read, with a slapdash of humor mixed in, good dialogue and character development, and a great climatic ending. Very well written.

BOOKREPORTER: THE OC dives into the thriller deep end, amid sharks of terror, torture and murder. 

What Others Are Saying About THE OC

A terrific read….D.P. Lyle’s prose is stylish, smart, and compelling. Another grand slam in an immensely entertaining series. Highly recommended. — Sheldon Siegel. New York Times best-selling author of the Mike Daley/Rosie Fernandez novels.

Witty, charming, and exciting crime story that rockets to a blood-chilling climax. Make some popcorn, grab a cold drink, and settle in for a fast, single-sitting read.—-Lee Goldberg, #1 New York Times bestselling author

Snappy dialogue, fun characters, smart writing, a juicy mystery– all had me flipping pages until I reached The End. Jake and Nicole remind me of my favorite mystery duo, Nick and Nora Charles, with a modern twist. The Jake Longly series never fails to entertain.~ Allison Brennan, New York Times Bestselling Author

ENJOY CHAPTER 1

“She likes you.”

“Everybody likes me.”

“Yeah, but she likes you in that I-want-to-sit-on-your-lap way.”

“So do you.”

“Hmmm. Sounds like a plan.”

“These seats aren’t that big.”

Okay, a little perspective here. I’m Jake Longly, ex-pro baseball player, restaurant/bar owner, and lover of women. Well, the one sitting next to me anyway. That would be Nicole Jamison. Funny, smart, and insanely beautiful. Sometimes annoying. Actually, she excels at that.

We were seated in first class, Row 5, Seats A and B, on an American Airlines flight into Orange County, California’s John Wayne Airport. The OC, baby.

We had started out early this morning in Gulf Shores, Alabama, where my restaurant Captain Rocky’s sits on the sand, and where we both live. This trip was in part a vacation from—I’m not sure from what. I work very little. My manager Carla Martinez runs the joint so I have essentially zero to do. Except hang out with Nicole and Pancake. Nicole is my girlfriend, or whatever. We haven’t yet decided what we are. Let’s say, she likes me. See? I told you everybody likes me. Tommy “Pancake” Jeffers is my best friend. All the way back to when we terrorized the neighborhood as kids. He likes hanging out at Captain Rocky’s too. Mainly because the food and drink are free. My god, that boy can eat. Gnaws on my profits. If there are any. I’m never very sure since Carla rarely tells me. I don’t worry too much about it since the place is always packed. Also, I share the profits with her, so I figured that if we were bleeding out she’d let me know.

 Nicole, besides being smart and hot, and at times snarky, also writes screenplays. That’s the other reason for our trip to the left coast. Her new film was teed up to begin shooting in three weeks. Her other two screenplays had been minimalist productions, indies that made it to a couple of small film festivals. This one was on an entirely different level. It would be shepherded by her uncle Charles Balfour, the A-list producer and CEO of Regency Global Productions, RPG for short. He’s the driving force behind the multi-billion dollar Space Quest series. Yeah, billion with a B.

Me and Uncle Charles go way back. I’ve never actually met him but I’ve spent many a night in the home he owns near Gulf Shores. That’s where Nicole lives. Or hangs out anyway.

Nicole also lives in The OC, in a Newport Beach condo, but she’s rarely there. For the past year or so, that’s how long we’ve been together, she’s mostly stayed in Uncle Charles’s mega-mansion very near my Gulf Shores home. 

“These seats aren’t that small,” Nicole said.

“There’s no leg room.”

“That’s because you have long legs.”

“You don’t?”

She laughed. “If memory serves, you do pretty well in tight spaces.”

I looked at her “I’ll let that one slide by.”

The flight attendant returned, smiling, saying, “Can I get you anything?” Her gaze locked on me for a beat too long. Her name tag said she was Maryanne.

“I think we’re good.” I smiled back.

She moved on down the row.

Nicole elbowed my ribs. “See? What’d I tell you?”

“Maybe she’s using me to get to you?”

“Could be. Maybe I should be glad you have the aisle seat,” Nicole said.

“Pancake’s better at running interference. He’s built for it.”

“In this situation, I think you’ll do fine.”

Through the opening that led into the galley, I saw flight attendant Maryanne lift the microphone from its wall perch. She looked at me and smiled. Her announcement informed us that we would be landing in thirty minutes so any last minute trips to the restroom might be a good idea. 

“I think she wants you to join the mile-high club,” Nicole said.

“She’s doing her job.”

“The aforementioned restroom is right behind her. Looked like an invitation to me.”

“Might disturb the pilots,” I said. “Besides, speaking of tight spaces. Not much room to maneuver.”

“Bigger than the front seat of my car.”

Nicole drives a Mercedes SL convertible. More than once, or twice, or thrice, I love that word, we’ve watched a sunset from the front passenger seat, her settled on my lap. 

“We could try the one in back,” she said. “See if it’ll work.”

“And get cuffed by those TSA folks when we step off the plane.”

“You’re no fun.”

“Wait until we get to your place.” 

“Your girlfriend’s headed this way.” She nodded toward the galley area. “I think she wants your phone number.”

I looked up as Maryanne approached, a scrap of paper and a pen in her hand.

“I hate to bother you,” she said. “But could I get your autograph for my son. He’s a big baseball fan.”

I guess she didn’t want my number.

This happened from time to time. Less so with each year that flowed by since my days in the Bigs. Still felt good though. I mean being an old, washed-up athlete is better than being a forgotten, old, washed-up one.

“How old is he?” I asked.

“Eight. Going on thirty.” She gave a head shake. “He’s much more mature than his father.” She laughed. “He can be such a goof.”

“It’s a guy thing,” Nicole said. “They only mature until about age fourteen. That’s their ceiling.”

I would have defended my manhood but I was outnumbered, surrounded, and couldn’t think of a clever comeback. Which was likely their point.

“Don’t I know it.” Maryanne extended the paper toward me.

“What’s your son’s name?” I asked.

“Scott. We call him Scotty.”

“What position does he play?”

“He pitches and plays shortstop.” She beamed. ”He’s really very good.”

I started to sign the paper but then said. “I have something he’ll like more.” I foot tugged my carryon from beneath the seat and lifted it into my lap. I unzipped it and rummaged inside until I found what I was looking for. A baseball.

I always traveled with several baseballs. Rarely to sign one for a fan but mostly to throw at bad guys. Like Victor Borkov’s crew. Baseballs are great weapons. But I didn’t tell Maryanne any of that. Instead, I said, “I always carry a couple of these for just such occasions.”

“You don’t have to do that,” she said.

“My pleasure.” I signed the ball to Scotty and handed it to her.

“He’ll be thrilled.” She gave me another smile and a quick nod. “Thank you so much.”

“I think you just made her day,” Nicole said as Maryanne walked away.

“Scotty’s, too, I hope.”

“Definitely.” She hooked her arm in mine. “You deserve a reward.”

“Like what?”

“The usual.”

Me love the usual.

DETAILS/ORDER: http://www.dplylemd.com/book-details/the-oc.html

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2021 in Writing

 

Talking Character, Storytelling and THE OC

Great time chatting with Terry Shepherd about character, storytelling, and THE OC.

YouTube Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVMGoATEdx8

Soundcloud Audio: https://soundcloud.com/authorsontheair/dp-lyle-the-oc

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2021 in Writing

 

Thorne & Cross Carnival Macabre Interview: Stalkers, Writing, and THE OC

Had a great time—as usual—with Thorne & Cross on Carnival Macabre talking Stalkers, Writing, and the next Jake Longly story (#5) THE OC.

https://carnivalmacabre.libsyn.com/dp-lyles-thoughts-on-stalkers-writing-and-his-new-book-the-oc

THE OC Details and Pre-Order: http://www.dplylemd.com/book-details/the-oc.html

 

Criminal Mischief: The Art and Science of Crime Fiction: Episode #47: Amnesia and Trauma

Criminal Mischief: The Art and Science of Crime Fiction: Episode #47: Amnesia and Trauma

LISTEN: https://soundcloud.com/authorsontheair/episode-47-amnesia-and-trauma

PAST SHOWS: http://www.dplylemd.com/criminal-mischief.html

SHOW NOTES:

Amnesia has been a part of fiction for many years. Jason Bourne in The Bourne Identity is a classic example. The character was apparently based on the real-life case of Ansel Bourne, who in 1887 was likely the first documented case of amnesia. Even Agatha Christie suffered her own brush with amnesia—or maybe not. This one has been the source of argument and conjecture for decades.

I frequently receive questions from crime writers about amnesia so it remains a common topic. In fact, amnesia questions were included in my Question and Answer books. One of the best:

Can A Blow To the Head Cause Unconsciousness and Amnesia?

Q: How hard do you have to be hit on the head to be knocked unconscious? Is there a particular place on the head, that if struck would be more likely to cause unconsciousness? How long does it usually last? How hard do you need to be hit to cause partial or temporary amnesia? What sort of things do people forget in these situations? How long does it usually last? Are there any other physical symptoms a writer should be sure and include in a scene with head trauma?  

A: In medical terms a blow to the head, or anywhere else, is called blunt force trauma as opposed to sharp force trauma as would occur with a knife or some other cutting instrument. When the blow is to the head, it is called a blunt head injury.

The degree of force required to render someone unconscious is completely unpredictable and varies from situation to situation and from person to person. Though a minor tap on the head is not likely to cause unconsciousness in anyone, almost any blow of significant force can. It makes no difference where the blow strikes the head as far as causing unconsciousness is concerned. That is, a blow to the front of the head is no more likely or less likely to cause unconsciousness than would one to the side or back of the head.

The period of unconsciousness in a simple concussion, which is what loss of consciousness due to blunt force head injury is called, is measured in seconds or minutes. Unlike Hollywood where the bad guy is slugged in the jaw, knocked unconscious, and then written out of the script after that — or at least the hero no longer has to worry about him — is not what happens in real life. Think about every boxing match you’ve ever seen. One guy smacks the other one, knocking him unconscious, and 30 seconds later the guy is awake and complaining that it was a lucky punch. This is what really happens. 

Unconsciousness from a simple concussion can last several minutes and maybe even up to 10 or 15 minutes, though that would be unusual. Typically the person wakes up with a minute or so but might be slightly groggy or confused for a while, again for several minutes. But if he is unconscious for longer than a few minutes, the odds are that a serious injury to the brain has occurred or that bleeding into and around the brain has happened, Both of these situation are true medical emergencies. It doesn’t sound like that’s the situation you are posing with your questions.

Amnesia can indeed follow blows to the head. Typically the blow has to be powerful enough to render the person unconscious or at least woozy before amnesia enters the picture. But I should point out that other than the time period the victim is actually unconscious there is no loss of memory in the overwhelming majority of people who suffer head injuries. Amnesia is not rare but it is not common. But amnesia can occur after head injury, so you can absolutely use this in your story.

Amnesia comes in many flavors but they are usually divided into retrograde and anterograde types. Anterograde amnesia is very rare and is a situation where the person cannot form new memories. This was the subject of the excellent movie Memento. I won’t dwell on this since this is not the type of amnesia your questions deal with.

Retrograde simply means whatever came before. This type of amnesia is the most common in that the person forgets things that happened before the injury. This amnesia can cover events that occurred for only a few minutes before the injury, a few hours, a few days, weeks, or months, or can go back to forever. The person can forget some things and not others, such as he might not remember his name but might remember his address and phone number. He might remember some people but not others. He might recognize people but not be able to recall their names. 

Or he could have what is called global amnesia in which he remembers nothing, not his name, not where he is, not where he came from, and virtually everything else. This type of amnesia can be temporary or permanent. It may only last for a few minutes, hours, days, or months or in some people it can last forever and be a permanent loss of memories. 

When memories begin to return, they can come back suddenly and completely, partially, or in fits and spurts. The person might remember some things within a few minutes but other things might be lost in the cloud of amnesia forever. Virtually anything can happen so this means that your story can be crafted in almost any way you wish.

The other symptoms that can be associated with a concussion of this type are headaches, dizziness, poor balance, nausea, blurred vision, and generalized weakness and fatigue. These symptoms usually are minor and only last a few hours but they can become more problematic and last for many days and in some people for many months. There is no real treatment other than time and perhaps medications for headaches if they become chronic.

LINKS:

Ansel Bourne Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ansel_Bourne

The Real Bourne Identity: The Psychology of Ansel Bourne:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/mind-brain-and-value/202010/the-real-bourne-identity-the-psychology-ansel-bourne

Mysteries of the “Mystery” Author Agatha Christie’s Disappearance in 1926: https://historycollection.com/mysteries-of-the-mystery-author-agatha-christies-disappearance-in-1926/

Mayo Clinic: Amnesia: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/amnesia/symptoms-causes/syc-20353360

My Q&A Books:

MURDER AND MAYHEM

FORENSICS AND FICTION

MORE FORENSICS AND FICTION

 

Thorne & Cross: Carnival Macabre: What Hollywood Gets Wrong with DP Lyle

Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross have a new gig, Carnival Macabre, which replaces their excellent Haunted Nights show. But it didn’t tamp down their zaniness.

I had a great time talking about Hollywood, crime, and storytelling. Take a listen.

https://carnivalmacabre.libsyn.com/thorne-cross-carnival-macabre-what-hollywood-gets-wrong-with-forensics-expert-dp-lyle

Top 10 Writers’ Medical Mistakes

D. P. Lyle, MD

The Quick Death: No one dies instantly. Well, almost no one. Instant death can occur with heart attacks, strokes, extremely abnormal heart rhythms, and cyanide and other “metabolic” poisons. Cyanide and a few other chemicals prevent the body’s cells from using oxygen so death arrives in a hurry. But trauma, such as gunshot wounds (GSWs) and blows to the head, rarely cause sudden death. Yet, how often has a single shot felled a villain? Bang, and he drops dead. In order for that to occur, the bullet would need to severely damage the brain, the heart, or the cervical (neck) portion of the spinal cord. A shot to the chest or abdomen leads to a lot of screaming and moaning, but death comes from bleeding and that takes a while.

The Pretty Death: I call this the “Hollywood Death.” Calm, peaceful, and not a hair out of place. Blood? Almost never. The deceased is nicely dressed, lying in bed, make-up perfect, and with a slight flutter of the eyelids if you look closely. Real dead people are ugly. I don’t care what they looked like during life, in death they are pale, waxy, and gray. Their eyes do not flutter and they do not look relaxed and peaceful. They look dead.

The Bleeding Dead: Your detective arrives at a murder scene a half hour after the deed. Blood oozes from the corpse’s mouth and from the GSW in his chest. Tilt! Dead folks don’t bleed. You see, when you die, your heart stops and the blood no longer circulates and it clots. Stagnant or clotted blood does not move. It does not gush or ooze or gurgle or flow or trickle from the body. 

The Accurate Time of Death: Determining the time of death is neither easy nor very accurate. It is always a best guess and is stated as a range and not an exact time. Yet, how many times have you seen the detective or the ME confidently announce that the victim died at “10:30 last night”? I always wonder exactly how he made this determination. Was it rigor mortis, body temperature, or lividity? Was it the presence of absence of certain bugs? Of course, the problem is that none of these is accurate. In real-life the ME would say that death likely occurred “between 8 p.m. and midnight.” But that might make him appear wishy-washy and Hollywood likes its heroes to be smart. Smarter than they could possibly be.

The One-punch Knockout: You’ve seen and read this a million times. The hero socks the bad guy’s henchmen in the jaw. He goes down and is apparently written out of the script, since we never hear from him again. It’s always the henchmen, because the antagonist, like most people, requires a few solid blows to go down. Think about a boxing match. Two guys that are trained to inflict damage and they have trouble knocking each other out. And when they do, the one on his back is up in a couple of minutes, claiming the other guy caught him with a lucky punch. Listen to me. Only James Bond can knock someone out with a single blow. And maybe Mike Tyson. Your car-salesman-turned-amateur-sleuth cannot.

The Disappearing Black Eye: If your character gets a black eye in Chapter 3, he will have it for two weeks, which will likely take you through the end of the book. He will not be “normal” in two days. A black eye is a contusion (bruise). It is caused by blood leaking from tiny blood vessels, which are injured by the blow. It takes the body about two weeks to clear all that out of the tissues. It will darken over two days, fade over 4 or 5, turn greenish, brownish, and a sickly yellow before it disappears. On a good note, by about day 7, your female character may be able to hide it with make-up.

The Quick Healing: This is a corollary to the above. If your character falls down the stairs and injuries his back, he will not be able to run from or chase the bad guy or make love to his new lover the next day. Give the guy a few days to heal and make him limp and complain in the interim. If he breaks an arm, he’ll need 4 weeks minimum.

The Untraceable Poison: No such thing. With fancy equipment like Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectroscopy (GS-MS) virtually any chemical can be identified. The combination of these two tests gives a “chemical fingerprint” of the compound in question. The trick is to disguise the death to look like something else so that an expensive and time consuming full toxicological examination will not be done.

The Instant Athlete: Your PI drinks too much, smokes too much, and eats donuts on a regular basis. He will not be able to chase the villain for 10 blocks. Two on a good day. If he must, then make him capable. Remember “Babe” Levy (Dustin Hoffman) in Marathon Man? He had to run for his life as Dr. Christian Szell (Sir Laurence Olivier) and his Nazi bad guys chased him endlessly. But earlier in the film we learned that he ran around the reservoir in Central Park everyday. He could run for his life.

The Instant Lab Result: The world is not like CSI. They get results in a New York minute. In the real world the same test can take days, even weeks. A preliminary or presumptive test may be done quickly, but most confirmatory testing takes time. And the coroner will not likely release a report until the results are confirmed.

 
 
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