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Exploring: Web Resources for Crime Writers

Do you need to pick a gun for your protagonist to hide in her bedside table? Would it be helpful to learn more about the way police officers talk, the codes they use? Do you know what happens to a body as it decomposes? How quickly does a victim die after ingesting rat poison or an overdose of aspirin?

No matter what you need to know to make your mystery or thriller realistic and accurate, you can probably find the answer on the Internet. Knowing where to look is half the battle. If you understand how to use your search engine effectively, you’ll save yourself many trips to the library, and you won’t have to ask your policeman neighbor down the street to read one more chapter of your manuscript (thereby tempting him to arrest you for stalking).

Government agency websites, police forums, experts who have websites or blogs, online classes from private investigators—all of this information is a keystroke away. These are the best sites and link lists I’ve found so far.

Government Agencies

Center for Disease Control
Emergency Preparedness and Response

Federal Bureau of Investigation

U. S. Drug Enforcement Administration

Law Enforcement Forums and Blogs

6 Ways Law Enforcement Uses Social Media to Fight Crime
by Lon S. Cohen at Mashable: The Social Media Guide
"1. Police Blotter Blogs
2. The Digital “Wanted Poster”
3. Anonymous E-Tipsters
4. Social Media Stakeout
5. Thwarting Thugs in the Social Space
6. Tracking and Informing with Twitter"

Lee Lofland’s blog, Graveyard Shift
"Lee Lofland is a veteran police investigator who began his law-enforcement career working as an officer in Virginia's prison system. He later became a sheriff's deputy, a patrol officer, and finally, he achieved the highly-prized gold shield of detective."

“Ask a Cop” and “Forum Posts” at Real Police

Spartan Cops: Aiming to Help Cops

“Writing on the Beat” by Denis Faye at Writers Guild of America, West

Crime Writers and Writer Organizations

American Crime Writers’ League Writer’s Links

Sisters in Crime blog

Article links on Writing Mysteries at

Experts and Other Resources

American Association of Poison Control Centers

Links at Research, Publications & Resources
Florida State University, College of Criminology and Criminal Justice

Gun Directory: The Complete Gun Review and Reference Guide

Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes, a blog and online classes for writers from a couple of private investigators. Highly recommended blog. Classes are reasonably priced.

D. P. Lyle, M.D. Articles
The Writer’s Forensics Blog (author, D. P. Lyle, M.D.)

You’ll be able to find more links on your own, links more specific to your own story. Remember to narrow your search as much as possible. If you have any favorites I haven't mentioned, we'd love to have you leave a comment and share the link.


Patricia Stoltey is a mystery author, blogger, and critique group facilitator. Active in promoting Colorado authors, she also helps local unpublished writers learn the critical skills of manuscript revision and self-editing. For information about Patricia’s Sylvia and Willie mystery series, visit her website and her blog. You can also find her on Facebook (Patricia Stoltey) and Twitter (@PStoltey).

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  1. Awesome! Thanks for the recommendations guys - including the reminder about Lee Lofland.

  2. Dr Lyle's book is sooo helpful too, ON FORENSICS AND FICTION.

  3. The internet is a pool of resources. Regardless of the genre, a writer can find almost anything they need if they just look in the right places. Of course, it's always helpful to be a skilled researcher.

    -- Dominique

  4. With your great list, we have no excuse to be ill-informed!

    Morgan Mandel

  5. Terrific information, Patricia. Thanks much for the post!

  6. Great list. Some of these I have, some I don't. But I'm going to copy them all just to be sure I have them. Thanks, Patricia.

    Straight From Hel

  7. What a wonderfully helpful blog. I've bookmarked this so I can draw from your wealth of resources. I'm working on a mystery at the moment, and although I was married to a policeman for 32 years, you can always learn new techniques and lingo. I learned a lot being a corrections officer for a year. Wow! I should write a book on that.

  8. What an amazing resource. Thanks so much for compiling all this. I am going to save the post in my research file.

  9. A most useful list.

    Thanks for sharing, Patricia :)

  10. I love helpful pages like this one.

  11. Thanks for mentioning The Graveyard Shift. I'm glad you find it helpful.

  12. Thanks for the links, I’ve found the Internet to be a good resource for information, and although this is off-topic I was wondering if anyone is interested to sample the book I’m writing. It’s called A Business Diary. I’m going for a lighter form of business-related book which looks at the workplace through stories with candid dialogue and insightful narration. It would be great to hear from you. (


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