Now on to the post:
The Pleasures of Research
I'm a writer, a novelist, and I usually enjoy the research that comes before the
drafting of any novel. Sometimes I sift through the library or the internet, but
sometimes I want the first-hand experience. Because I write crime novels, and
because I come from a long line of police officers and was once employed with
the FBI, I often draw on my experience to add a level of credibility to my work.
I've been in prisons, county jails, and lockups. I've fired all types of weapons,
and have ridden in patrol cars with sirens blaring. This is important in crime
fiction because the reading public is far more sophisticated today than it was
in the time of Chandler or Hammett, thanks to television shows like Law and
Although I have written a number of crime thrillers, I usually chronicle
the exploits of Colton Parker, an ex-FBI agent-turned-private eye based in
Indianapolis. In THE LOST SHEEP, a novel featuring Colton, I knew it would be
necessary to set the story in Las Vegas, a city I'd never visited. In order to lend
an air of authenticity to the book, I decided to take a trip. I took a friend along
with me (who we shall hereinafter refer to as "George" - not his real name) who
had once lived in the city and who agreed to shepherd me around.
We arrived early one evening in February and went directly to a casino. Given
the fact that a good number of my novels take place in seedy locales, the
casino trip was for my own edification rather than as a setting for the story.
Still, George thought it was a good idea and I went along. Easy me.
Within a few minutes, we were standing at a table while George explained
the nuances of the game. We weren't there very long before I felt a presence
looming over us. I turned to find two of the biggest security officers I'd ever
seen standing directly behind us.
"What are you doing?" one of them asked.
"Uh, he's explaining the game to me," I said.
"Are you counting cards?"
I thought he was kidding. "One: I'm not playing. Two: I can't count." I smiled.
"Are you a funny guy?" He wasn't kidding.
I looked at George. "It wasn't a real knee-slapper," I said, "but it wasn't half
"Look," the other guard said, "if you don't leave, we're going to arrest you."
George tugged at my jacket. "C'mon. Let's get out of here."
We left the casino and began walking south along the strip. Across the street
from our position was a rather nice-looking hotel. George explained that the
elevators slide sideways rather than vertically, and that I should ride them for
the experience. Being from southern Indiana where we don't have such things, I
We entered the very nice lobby of the beautiful hotel and began riding the
elevators. They did indeed did slide upward at a near forty-five degree angle,
quite different from anything I'd ever seen
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