Technology is a game-changer in the genre, and constantly evolving procedures in policing mean the crime-writer is increasingly having to become an armchair expert. It’s perhaps not enough for your detective to sit in the pub over a pint of ale and ponder the guilt of a motley group of suspects with the aid of a stubby pencil.
Now in its fourth year CSI Portsmouth – which takes place this Saturday – tries to demystify the science stuff by bringing together police, scientists and crime-writers to discuss that tricky area where crime fact meets crime fiction.
In special panels, police and forensic experts will talk about their roles and how such things as bioinformation, trace evidence, toxicology and DNA are changing the crime-fighting landscape.
You’ll be able to learn about the jobs of the experts and get to quiz them about what it is they do and how they do it. There’s a walk-through crime-scene, apparently, and among the authors there will be SJ Bolton, MR Hall, Kerry Wilkinson – and Pauline Rowson, who created the event. You can find out more about the day, and who’s taking part on what panel, on Pauline’s site here.
If you want to write a procedural, CSI Portsmouth sounds like a fascinating way to keep up-to-date with all the scientific developments that are really impacting on the genre. And as an added bonus, it takes place in the rather splendid Royal Naval Museum at Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard.
What about you guys? How much research do you do when you write? Do you find the procedural stuff intimidating but do your homework anyway, or do you think to hell with it, I’m going to write the damned thing – it’s fiction!