View Full Version : Detective or P.I.

08-25-2011, 01:49 AM
So my MC is a gumshoe. I've currently written him in as a failing P.I. but it feels a little too overused for me Harry Dresden, Garrett, Dylan Dog, etc. I thought I could make it a little different by having him be an actual Detective for the police department. How likely would it be that a certain detective got passed all the shitty or bat-shit crazy cases? The guy gets tossed into the supernatural world when he finds a missing child (a gang known as The Bloodless a.k.a a gang of my vamps had taken her for a ritual). If it's extremely unrealistic then I plan to just go with the fact that he was a detective up until that point and then quits and starts his own business as a place where he can perhaps help the people that know about what lurks in the underbelly of the world. Sorry if I'm being a bit long-winded just trying to give you all the idea I'm working with. Any advice on what makes sense in terms of how police politics would actually work?

Drachen Jager
08-25-2011, 02:21 AM
I think you could certainly write it plausibly that he gets all the crazy cases. Just put him in conflict with his direct boss, and/or everyone in his squad, so they go out of their way to give him the weird cases. Especially if he HATES it. That would also throw a nice extra element of conflict and character into the story. That's probably not likely to happen in the real world, but it's plausible enough I'd buy it if the book was good.

I think as far as police politics you're pretty free. Cops are like everyone else, they hold grudges and can be mean about the way they gain revenge etc. Just give him something in his past which put him at odds with the whole department, if he's a straight-shooter set it up that he turned in a fellow officer for a crime (beating up a suspect which lead to death for instance). If he likes to bend the rules you could say he went off the reservation one time and his partner got killed, the review board found that he couldn't have saved the partner's life, but the other cops still all blame him.

08-25-2011, 02:26 AM
Thanks you make a lot of great points. I did plan on doing that as the MC himself is a bit of a wise-ass (part of his charm really) and hes way too cynical to get close to almost anyone. My main problem was that I thought if the cases seemed to crazy the cops would just toss em out or send of the victims to the psychologist, something like that. Wasn't sure how plausible it was that a grudge would be enough for them to possibly violate protocol by giving the MC cases that really should have been passed to some kind of psychological examiner. EDIT: pardon the blabbery state of my posts, worked an all nighter and had class today. Dead tired about sums it up. :D

08-25-2011, 05:08 AM
I don't really agree. I can easily see where one particular detective could get assigned all the crazy cases under particular circumstances. Those would be that he's really good at solving them. After all, the standard reward for a job well done is another tough job. If his bosses were really fond of the completion rates that he's providing, they could easily justify giving him more of the difficult/weird cases.

Steve Collins
08-25-2011, 06:09 PM
Think Fox Mulder in the X files, he got all the weird cases and the rest of the Feds looked upon him as a weirdo.

08-25-2011, 07:15 PM
Consider Jonathan Kellerman's Milo Sturgis(?), who is handed all the bad cases because he's gay--and a damned good cop anyway. Nobody wants to work with him, so he does what he can alone, with frequent assists from the MC, Alex Delaware, who's a police consultant.

This totally works for me, and I understand the attitude is pretty accurate, too.

Your detective can be 'punished' for something else which irritates his superiors, or makes them look bad. Of course, as a cop he has limitations on his actions and what will stand up in court, which the PI does not.

Maryn, who reads mystery but no longer writes them

08-26-2011, 12:06 AM
It's fiction, so you do as you please... However, the reality is that LE agencies/departments large enough to have squads/divisions of detectives have rotation protocols regarding assignments. Detectives work as two-personnel partner teams (working solo presents a number of legal and ethical issues, beyond the scope of this response). The teams are given assignments in an equitable rotation as complaints/reports of crime come in - whoever is "up" and available catches the next case. That team will be responsible for pursuing the investigation and filing the required reports. It's really that simple.

The senior investigator on the team is ultimately responsible and may be considered the "primary". The team may be referred to as the case primaries.

As for dumping all the weird stuff on one investigator - likely a violation of statutory/regulated procedures. Deviations from the established practice within a given agency/department would be rather obvious, and may be construed as disparate treatment or discriminatory in nature. Agencies/departments are fully cognizant of such inherent civil liabilities and potential negative consequences - especially if they were deemed to suffer and permit such ill-advised managerial behavior.

Now if your specific detective (MC), who has manifested a particular skill in the past, is requested to assist the primaries with their assigned case, that is far more plausible and skirts the previously mentioned potential liability issue.

08-26-2011, 04:04 PM
Ah I see. That's what I was worried about. Just how believable it was in terms of how such things actually work in the real world. I'd hate that if I did somehow get this novel published that it would be ripped apart by people saying "Hey! That's not how that would really happen!", But it seems like this would be believable to a general audience since it appears to have been done before and Maryn you make a great point. The MC being a P.I. does lend itself to having a lot more freedom, I'm just afraid this will make it scream Harry Dresden or Garrett P.I. clone.