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Amateur Detectives: A Writer's Guide to How Private Citizens Solve Criminal Cases

(Howdunit Series)

3.41  ·  Rating details ·  46 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
Never before has such specialized information been so thoroughly compiled and easily accessible to writers Each book is written by a professional in their respective field, providing the inside details that writers need to weave a credible -- and salable -- story.
Paperback, 232 pages
Published September 1st 1996 by Writer's Digest Books
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Richard Derus
Dec 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Rating: 4* of five

Wow. This is a gigantic bolus of information of huge value to any mystery writer wannabe. It's on the dry side. The value is practical, but significant.
Lisa Kucharski
Oct 02, 2017 rated it liked it
So, the copyright on this book is 1996, which means that in the future it would be a great reference for writers wanting to write from this time frame. Reading it in 2017, much of the technology and laws are evolving so the info in the book is not current but it does point out some specific areas to have knowledge about when writing detective fiction.

The book has various "sections." 1. It covers writers from the Golden Age of Detection (1920 to 1945ish) and then writers from (after WW2 to 1990's
Aug 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
It must've been extremely helpful at the time it was written. So much of the legal and technological information is so far out of date now that a large percentage of the book is no longer relevant. The myriad examples of classic and "contemporary" were interesting simply as a resource for further reading but the cozy market has changed SO much since 1996. This book is in desperate need of an update for the 21st century. The exercise at the end was fun.
Jennifer Worrell
May 19, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: craft
There were some interesting tidbits in here, including scores of famous mystery writers and books organized by theme, so I can look up the ones that have something in common with my own writing. However, a lot is devoted to state-specific information, and the book is from 1996. In twenty years, I bet a lot has changed. However, it provided a guide of where to look for the information I'd need, and gave me ideas for my own WIP.
Rebecca Wright
Jan 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
So far so good. I just can't get enough of books about writing:)
Sarah Pottenger
Oct 09, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2007
Seemed like a good one to read and take notes on, since I often use amateur detectives. It had lots of good information.
Apr 23, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: writing, reference
Haven't really read this cover to cover because I don't really write whodunits. Lots of good information in here, but doesn't really pertain to me.
Sep 25, 2015 marked it as zeroes-and-dnf

I love the idea behind the book, but with 1996 as a publishing date, it is simply no longer a viable reference.
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May 26, 2010 added it
Shelves: non-fiction
Gotta love these resource books! They are giving me some great ideas.
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Elaine Raco Chase is the award-winning author of seventeen paperback novels with over 3 million books in print. She is published in 25 countries and 15 languages.

As a romance writer, Chase has won two sales awards for top romance novels of the year, Romantic Times Lifetime Achievement Award for romantic suspense, and the Affaire de Coeur Silver Pen Award for writing excellence. Her non-fiction deb

Other books in the series

Howdunit Series (1 - 10 of 15 books)
  • Howdunit: How Crimes Are Committed and Solved
  • Scene of the Crime: A Writer 's Guide to Crime Scene Investigation
  • Deadly Doses: A Writer's Guide to Poisons
  • Cause of Death: A Writer's Guide to Death, Murder, and Forensic Medicine
  • Just the Facts, Ma'am: A Writer's Guide to Investigator's and Investigation Techniques
  • Missing Persons: A Writer's Guide to Finding the Lost, the Abducted and the Escaped
  • Rip-Off: A Writer's Guide to Crimes of Deception
  • Private Eyes: A Writer's Guide to Private Investigating
  • Malicious Intent : A Writer's Guide to How Murderers, Robbers, Rapists and Other Criminals Think (The Howdunit)
  • Modus Operandi: A Writer's Guide to How Criminals Work