Researching a Mystery by Paty Jager

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I’m not a forensic coroner or a lawyer or even a law enforcer. I’m the wife of a rancher and I write murder mystery.

As I write this next book in my Shandra Higheagle Mystery Series I’ve come across questions that have required answers by professionals. When I start a book I know how the victim will die and where. But I ultimately need to know what their injuries would look like say if they fall off a cliff or are stabbed with a blunt object or shot at close range with a small caliber gun.

These are all things coroners have seen and can tell me. But how do I get a coroner on speed-dial or in my case speed e-mail? I’m part of a yahoo loop that is filled with every kind of occupation a mystery or murder writer might need expertise about. The yahoo loop is

That’s how I connected with a coroner who not only answered my question I put on the loop but also emailed back and forth with me as I asked more questions and what-if’s. She has lots of knowledge and being a budding writer is willing to help out fellow writers.

Writing the opening and how the victim is killed and what is discovered went well, knowing I had the correct information and knowledge. Then I brought in some secondary characters and a sub-plot. For the sub-plot I needed some legal information. I turned to my niece who is a para-legal and what she couldn’t answer she knew where to send me to find the information. After my niece and I discussed the issue I wanted brought up in my book and how I wanted it dealt with, she suggested I contact a law enforcement officer.Β  I happen to have one in the family. πŸ˜‰

I sent off an email explaining what I wanted to do, how would it be handled, and after some back and forth ,that element of the sub-plot was worked out.

Writing mystery books is my favorite writing experience. Not only do I have to puzzle out a mystery that will keep the reader thinking, I have to make sure the forensics and laws will work in the story and enhance the overall realness of the crime and the killer.

Have you read books where you could tell the writer hadn’t researched the laws or forensics? Did it bother you while reading the book or is that something that doesn’t bother you?


Award-winning author Paty Jager and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. She not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it. All Paty’s work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Her penchant for research takes her on side trips that eventually turn into yet another story.

You can learn more about Paty at:

her blog; Writing into the Sunset

her website;








5 thoughts on “Researching a Mystery by Paty Jager

  1. Patyjag; I can always count on a treasure of a thread. How very interesting ( and so is your lifestyle by the way).


    1. Hi Skyecaitlin, I’m glad you can glean information from this blog. Thanks for stopping in and commenting! Yes, I can bale hay one day and write a book the next. πŸ˜‰


  2. Jane, I don’t do all the gory, but I want the reader to “see” how they were killed because sometimes that is the clue to the killer. The Crime scene group is a great group. Thanks for stopping in and commenting.


  3. Thanks for sharing the information about the crime scene writer group – I’ll have to check that out! The challenge for me is often knowing how much – or how little – detail to include. I stay away from the gory in my books, and try to rely on just a few key details to paint the picture.

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