Five Non-Fiction Books Every Crime Writer Should Read

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Armed and Dangerous: A Writer’s Guide to Weapons
by Michael Newton

Nothing gets me more frustrated as a reader than when I catch some author writing about weapons and it’s obvious they don’t know what they’re talking about. A lot of readers will feel the same way if they catch such things, and many will. Keep in mind that readers come from all walks of life. Some of them will have a background in the military. Some will be law enforcement or security officers. Some of them might have grown up in a family of hunters. Whatever their background, a good number of readers will know about firearms and maybe even swords and other weapons. If you don’t, and you make a blunder in your writing, you’ll look like a fool. Which means you will lose readers. This book can help with a lot of that if you’re not interested in doing a lot of research into weapons (though that can be fun). You’ll get the basics on the history of weapons and the different types of weapons throughout time. You’re also likely to learn a few things. For example, did you know that there really isn’t such a thing as a silencer? It’s called a suppressor, and it doesn’t work nearly as well as you’ve seen on TV and in the movies; there’s still a good bit of sound, though not as much as firing a gun without the suppressor.

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Scene of the Crime: A Writer’s Guide to Crime-scene Investigations
by Anne Wingate

Someone’s been murdered. The cops show up. Now what do they do? This book can give you the answers, though if you’re writing about a real, particular law enforcement office, your best bet is probably to talk to a few officers in that department. But this book gets you going in the right direction. It will also tell you about the jobs of other people at a crime scene, such as forensics agents and such.

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The Writer’s Complete Crime Reference Book
by Martin Roth

This is just a good, solid book that’s well-rounded about crime and writing. Any writer could learn a lot from this book. If you only get one book on my list, this should probably be the one since it’s got so much information in it. Covers a lot of things, including police lingo on radios and such, murder scenes, investigations, and a whole lot more.

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Malicious Intent: A Writer’s Guide to How Murderers, Robbers, Rapists and Other Criminals Think
by Sean MacTire

Dark material here. You actually get into the minds of some of the most depraved people to have walked the Earth, though most of this is in a very general sense here and doesn’t focus so much on the inner workings of individual killers, rapists and other criminals. If you’re writing villains and want them to seem real, this book can prod your thoughts in the right direction.

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Body Trauma: A Writer’s Guide to Wounds and Injuries
by David W. Page, M.D

Who better to tell writers about wounds and injuries than an actual medical doctor? That’s exactly what this book does. It can be a bit gruesome in its details, but these are things crime writers need to know since they’re writing about … well, crime. Horror writers would probably have a strong interest, too. It’s not that you or your writing needs to dwell on this subject matter, but knowing about it can help your thrillers or mysteries sound more realistic. And it’s always good when a writer sounds like he or she knows what they’re writing about, otherwise the reader could get a sense that you’re an idiot and they won’t read anything by you any more.

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