Acknowledging Technical Support by Karen Shughart

police motorcycle in middle of road
Photo by Jimmy Chan on

I write mysteries. They’re Cozies, which means they don’t include graphic violence, explicit intimate scenes or coarse language.  But they do have a sleuth who investigates the murders, and although the books are fiction and there’s a lot of sway in writing them, I want them to be at least somewhat technically correct.

There’s wiggle room, of course there is. No one is holding my feet to the fire if I miss a detail that a real detective wouldn’t. But my aim is to make the books as realistic as possible, so that’s why I decided to get technical support.

Technical support offers credibility to any work, and it’s important to me, as an author, to feel comfortable that what I’m writing has at least a semblance of investigative reality. Plus, it’s a fun way to meet competent experts in a wide variety of fields, in my case criminal justice.

Before completing Murder in the Museum, the first of the Edmund DeCleryk Mysteries, I attended an eight-week class sponsored by our county sheriff’s office. I learned all the ins-and-outs of our county’s criminal justice system, everything from investigative procedures to arrests and bookings to how a K-9 unit works. There are also a number of other services provided to the community by our sheriff’s office that have nothing to do with solving crimes; services to the elderly and children, for example, and learning about those gave me an appreciation for all the fine work our sheriffs do.  When I had additional questions, I was delighted when the sheriff and two of his undersheriffs offered to meet with me to answer those questions.

A retired commander from a sheriff’s department in another county, two retired police officers-one a professor of criminal justice at a local community college-helped me not only understand how our legal system works but also the steps in conducting a solid investigation. It was high praise, once the book was published, to get an email from one of my contacts who said the investigation in the book was “spot on”.

Now I’m working on the second book in the series, Murder in the Cemetery. I’ve kept notes and all the information from those wonderful and talented folks who helped me with the first book, but in this one I needed additional support. Our district attorney who is a former physician’s assistant, provided valuable insights and information. A possible connection to the murder with the CIA resulted in a lengthy and productive conversation with that agency’s public affairs director. A retired beat cop and friend gave stellar examples of how law enforcement agents can be compassionate.

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Writing a book takes a lot of work. Keeping track of details, making sure the plot flows and keeping characters straight are part of the process, but  including realistic investigative procedures results in not only a better book but also one that passes the test for accuracy.


15 thoughts on “Acknowledging Technical Support by Karen Shughart

  1. So glad you liked the blog, Marcy. The Stanton Girls was a great group of women, so sorry you weren’t able to experience it.
    Warmest regards,


  2. This is not only amazing but what true friendship is. Sadly I never was in this “group” but for years envied how much my sister enjoyed the group and these friendships were a bond that held such strong memories for years.
    Nothing like a “girl” friend ❤️


  3. Best of your messages so far! We all think about decluttering our closets etc. but we forget to cleanse the mind. Your change of creative energies in the book are great examples of letting in the new ideas! Thanks


  4. HI Karen, I participated in the first Cozy Cat group mystery, “Chasing the Codex.” The authors wrote in alphabetical order, so I got chapter three. I was disappointed that a clue I had set up became a red herring, but a character I introduced not only showed up later in the book, but became part of my new series. The new mystery sounds fun. Glad you enjoyed writing the new book.


  5. Thanks, Paty! Since you’re getting requests for the cinnamon rolls, maybe you should consider putting the recipe in the next book. 🙂 Have a happy Thanksgiving!


  6. I hadn’t realized my character Shandra Higheagle made cinnamon rolls a lot in my books until a reader asked for the recipe. I sent her one of my easiest cinnamon roll recipes. Happy Thanksgiving!


  7. Terrific post, Karen! I’m brainstorming a new series, and your post reminded me I want to include at least one recipe in each book. I have food restrictions and want to share recipes I’ve successfully modified for others to enjoy. Hope you have a tasty and cozy Thanksgiving!


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