Literature’s Torrid Love Affair with Arsenic

arsenic for authors courtesy of pixabay bottle-1481599_960_720Guest Post
by Ben Steele

If arsenic had a golden age, it was probably the Victorian era in England and the United States. It was in bloody everything, from wallpaper, to clothing dye, to cosmetics. If arsenic had a golden age in terms of literature, it was probably the mid-1900s, though by then its career as an actual murder weapon was being regulated out of relevance. Still, writers like Agatha Christie made arsenic one of the most well-known and sordid tools in popular crime fiction.

There is an absolute ton of juicy content to get into here. For a start, it really was as common as you hear, according to Sandra Hempel, an author and expert on the subject. She states, “Through much of the nineteenth century, a third of all criminal cases of poisoning involved arsenic. One reason for its popularity was simply its availability. All you had to do was go into a chemist’s shop and say that you needed to kill rats.” Continue reading “Literature’s Torrid Love Affair with Arsenic”

Getting it Right: Characteristics and Traits of your Supporting Cast

generations-462134_960_720For the first time in history, we are experiencing at least four generations laboring side-by-side in the workplace. In fact, six living generations exist representing six distinct groups. Collective experiences in life — wars, financial collapse, tech bubbles, nation building — have formed collective characteristics of like-minded people within each of these groupings. There’s a little variance in the classification of these generations but it looks like this: Continue reading “Getting it Right: Characteristics and Traits of your Supporting Cast”

The Skinny on How Investigators Use DNA, Fingerprints in Solving Crimes

CSI for authors crime-scene-30112_640At the October meeting of the Maryland Writers Association (Howard County), John L. French, a crime scene supervisor for the Baltimore City Police Department, offered writers some tips on making their fictional crime investigations more realistic.

Part 1 of this article offered French’s suggestions on documenting the crime scene and what firearms evidence left there could reveal. In part two, we look at how fingerprint and DNA evidence are used by crime scene investigation units. Continue reading “The Skinny on How Investigators Use DNA, Fingerprints in Solving Crimes”

Crime Scene Investigator & Author Offers Tips on Making Fictional Crimes Realistic

CSI for authors crime-scene-30112_640At the October meeting of the Maryland Writers Association (Howard County), John L. French, a crime scene supervisor for the Baltimore City Police Department, offered writers some tips on making their fictional crime investigations more realistic.

French explained that the phrase “crime scene investigation” coupled with what people see on the TV show of the same name has led a touch of confusion about what CSI do. In Baltimore City, as well as many other municipalities, the CSI staff aren’t police officers. They’re civilians who work for the police department. As such, they don’t interview witnesses, canvas the neighborhoods, or generally investigate the crime. Detectives and officers do that kind of work. While CSI folks are investigators of a sort, they are tasked with investigating only the scene and the clues it has to offer. Continue reading “Crime Scene Investigator & Author Offers Tips on Making Fictional Crimes Realistic”