Monday, November 23, 2009

Have You Ever Wanted to be a Private Detective? - C J Carmichael

My guy and I were out on a walk this weekend when we passed a woman wearing sunglasses asleep in her car with the motor running. “Mom, waiting to pick up her child,” was my first thought. Mike, however, said, “Maybe she’s an investigator on a stake-out.”

I looked at Mike admiringly. “I like the way you think.” I started to wonder, why I hadn’t had the same thought. After all, I’ve just finished writing a trilogy about a P.I. agency in New York City. In fact, a number of my books have featured private investigators. Why? Because I find them fascinating and I always have.

When I was in grade school, I taped a tiny mirror to the end of a pencil so I could “spy” on people behind me. I wrote notes in “invisible” ink (lemon juice), developed “secret codes” for writing notes to my friends and even went so far as to pen some “original” mystery stories for the entertainment of those same friends. Once, my grandmother gave me a ring with a shiny blue stone that she found in the lost and found at the store where she worked. I convinced myself it was really an expensive heirloom worth thousands of dollars. As a young girl I was hooked on the Trixie Belden mystery series, and dreamed of running into a smuggling ring myself, so I could crack the case and end up on the front page of the local paper.

Okay. I admit it. I was a weird kid.

As I grew older, I became more practical and I gave up on the idea of actually becoming a P.I. But I remained hooked on mystery books and I absolutely loved Moonlighting and Remington Steele -- anyone else old enough to remember those?

Chinatown, L.A. Confidential...these are among my all-time favorite movies, and again, no big surprise, they feature Investigators as main characters.

And of course, I continue to devour detective fiction. I moved from Sherlock Holmes, to Hercule Poirot, from Raymond Chandler to Sue Grafton. And then I discovered authors who combined mystery, suspense and romance. Then I began to thrive on authors like Linda Howard and Sandra Brown. And dreamed of writing my own romantic mystery one day.

What is the big appeal? I think it is the idea of one woman (or a man and woman) on a crusade for truth and justice. It is the thrill of facing danger and coming out on top. And it is also the intriguing fact that people are not always what they seem to be on the surface.

Tell me--am I the only strange kid who dreamed of being a detective when she grew up? Admit it, share your story here, and you’ll be entered in a draw to win a copy of Her Better Half (a story about a woman who re-invents herself after her divorce and ends up working as...well, can you guess?)




Virginia C said...

Remington Steele is one of my all-time favorite TV shows. Pierce Brosnan gets more delicious every day!

My late mother always wanted to be a detective. The FBI actually came to her high school to sign up recruits (that won't be happening ever again)! Mom desparately wanted to join the FBI, but her father would not let her go. He was very protective. None the less, Mom remained fascinated with crime solving, police work and private investigation throughout her lifetime. We had to watch all the crime stopper shows on TV. Police Woman, The Rockford Files, and Hawaii-5-0 were her favorites! My mother was clever, charming, intelligent, fast on her feet, and sly as a fox. The criminals wouldn't have stood a chance : )

gcwhiskas at aol dot com

Mary said...

I like reading and watching crime dramas. But I never wanted to be a detective. I was strange in other ways, I wanted to be a mortician when I was a kid. I thought it would be creepy and I might see a ghost or two.

Carla said...

Virginia, your mom sounds like she was great! How sad that she couldn't pursue her passion.

Don't you wish they'd come up with a new "Remington Steele" type show on TV? I've been enjoying "The Good Wife" which isn't quite the same thing, but they've had some interesting cases to solve.

Carla said...

Mary, you sound like you were a brave kid. I would have been terrified at the idea of seeing a ghost (and I still would...paranormals are not for me)

By the way, my name is coming up as "carla" not the "C.J." I use for publishing. Hm...must be a google thing.

Estella said...

I do remember Remington Steele---Pierce Bronsan was a hunk.
I never wanted to be a detective,but i love stories about them.

Donna Alward said...

Great post CJ!

Linda Henderson said...

I read Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. I have always been interested in this field. I watch a lot of tv shows about detectives. Who doesn't want to be a sleuth when they are young, or older.

Martha Lawson said...

Hi there! Never wanted to be a detective, although I devoured the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books! I love detective shows. Remington Steele was one of the best!

mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

Caroline Storer said...

Hi Carla great blog - it really struck a chord with me! As a teenager I used to cut out newspaper clippings of all the latest (macabre) killings at the time - The Yorkshire Ripper, the Black Panther etc. However my mum decided that this wasn't "right" for a girl of 14 though and made me get rid of them!

And now? Well my (poor long suffering) DH is a retired detective and he's is continually bombarded with "Did you ever deal with a case like...?" I pick his brains all the time poor man! Always wanted to be a Forensic Scientist - today's CSI's. *sigh* Take care. Caroline x

Patti said...

I never wanted to be a detective but was fascinated by books I read as a kid - Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys and Encyclopedia Brown (okay, and Scooby Doo!). It always amazed me that they could put the clues together and come up with the truth.

Michelle Styles said...

CJ --

I adored detective novels and tv shows when I was growing up.

Mary Anne Landers said...

Thank you for your post, C.J.

I can't recall wanting to become a private detective when I was a kid. However, when I was well into my older---er, more mature years, I became fascinated by true crime stories and forensics. And this was before CSI!

Often I wondered how I would have handled famous cases. In those that remain unsolved, what would I have done that might have brought the culprits to justice?

This fascination didn't result in a career change to private investigator. But it did give me ideas for fiction projects.

Keep up the good work!

Emmanuelle said...

Very funny post. I admit the idea of becoming a PI or a detective NEVER crossed my mind ! (shameful I know). Then why do I enjoy reading about them so much ?? I have no idea ;-)
Congratulation on your new release ! (great cover too)

Laurie said...

I like reading about PI's but I never would have the patience or guts to be one. LOVED Magnum, PI with Tom Selleck. I think I also watched Hawaiian I in the 60's! with Connie Stevens and Ed Burns!

I could use one. We're trying to find an ex-tenant who skipped on several months rent, gave us bad checks and damaged our property!

Laney4 said...

I've never wanted to be a paid detective. Sorry about that!

Like many others above, I too grew up reading Nancy Drew. When I went through those, I turned to Hardy Boys. It was fun trying to figure out "who dunnit".

Today I enjoy NCIS, the CSI series, Criminal Minds, and a few other shows. I think it's good to still try to figure out "who dunnit". Unfortunately, my memory is like a sieve, so every so often I see an old NCIS show and can't remember the ending, so part of it is like a new show to me again.

I now type for a private investigator, so that provides more ammunition for brain power. I try to figure stuff out as I type, much like a book or tv show.

I also type for someone who writes a report for judges to determine if a foster child should go back with his/her parent, etc., so that is like a mystery unfolding too. Just when I think the author is leaning toward someone getting custody, something shakes up that thought!

What was it that Gilda Radner used to say on SNL? Wasn't it, "There's always something!" That's how I feel about mysteries.

C. J. said...

Lots of Nancy Drew fans, I see! Of course I read my share of those and the Hardy Boys, too.

Caroline, I used to clip reports of gruesome crimes too. Sometimes I still do and put them in my "ideas" folder.

Emmanuella...thank you. I'm pretty happy with my new cover, too. :)

Laurie, good luck tracking down that ex-tenant. If only we could put Magnum P.I. on the case!

And Laney...your job sounds so cool. But the custody cases must sometimes be so sad.

Thanks to everyone for your comments. I'll be doing my random draw for Her Better Half soon. I wish you all luck!

traveler said...

I enjoyed this lovely post which resounded with me. The books which you mentioned were my favorites at the time especially so all the Nancy Drew books which I devoured. They were my favourites. During the detective shows days I was riveted to the screen with Mannix etc.

C. J. said...

Contest Winner!
Well folks, I've done the random draw and Traveler is the winner of an autographed copy of Her Better Half.

Thanks everyone for sharing your love of detective stories with me!

Traveler, please send me your mailing information to

Happy Thanksgiving!