If you like what I do here at CrimeFictionBook.com, I think you’ll enjoy these websites, too.
Here’s a new field for the 21st Century: digital forensics. Brett Shavers offers high-tech insights for depicting things like cloud-based forensics and identity theft. I like the title of one of his books, too: Placing the Suspect Behind the Keyboard. (with thanks to crime writer BJ Wolf for her excellent recommendations)
For those already familiar with firearms, GunDigest.com is my favorite place on the Web for the latest on what’s new in guns. While a lot of the hardcore gun sites like to dress information up in hyperbole, GunDigest.com is one of those “just the facts, ma’am” sites that offers the nitty gritty without the BS. In an online world overflowing with blowhards, GD offers a refreshing change of pace.
Guns, Gams & Gumshoes
Guns, Gams & Gumshoes is operated by “a defense attorney & PI who also happen to be writers,” according to the site, so it’s no wonder it made this list. This combo means the posts and related books come from an interesting point of view. A recent article that caught my eye, Do All PIs Carry Concealed Handguns?, was right on the money. (Spoiler alert: The answer is no, but the reasons are worth a read.)
Internet Movie Firearms Database
You might’ve heard about the Internet Movie Firearms Database before, but consider this your reminder. If you spot a firearm in a movie, this website has it cataloged. It’s the other half to what I try to do in The Writer’s Guide to Weapons, which is dissect the way firearms are selected and depicted in fiction.
Jennifer Chase is a double threat. She’s both a thriller writer and a criminologist, which lends a unique flair to the content she posts on her website. In between notes about her writing works, you’ll find posts like Examining the Four Types of Serial Killers. Her information is entertaining, if not chilling.
Sue Coletta’s Murder Blog
What started as a simple download with nefarious ideas to kill characters quickly morphed into its own blog. Sue Coletta’s Murder Blog takes a broad swipe at the crime, legal and forensic questions you’ve always had. You’ll see posts about the Zodiac Killer next to a comparison of U.S. and Canadian law enforcement. While Coletta’s posts are always informative, you’ll also enjoy the way they get the creative juices flowing.
The Graveyard Shift
Lee Lofland comes from a law enforcement background, and he uses that knowledge to help out writers. He’s the author of Police Procedure and Investigation: A Guide for Writers (Writer’s Digest Books) and the organizer of the Writer’s Police Academy. His blog, The Graveyard Shift, offers an insider perspective on the way police departments go about their business.
The Writer’s Detective
This is a new one for me, having discovered it recently via Twitter through a recommendation. It looks terrific. Adam at The Writer’s Detective investigates homicides in southern California. That alone is worth following his blog, but the fact he’s offering insight to writers sweetens the pot. Check out his recent post on how it feels to be at a crime scene.
The Writer’s Forensics Blog
The information I can offer discusses the technicalities of firearms and knives themselves. Dr. D. P. Lyle, MD, takes it a step further at The Writer’s Forensics Blog. The good doctor fields morbid questions from writers’ WIPs, from body decomposition to the latest crime scene technology. It’s interesting stuff even if you’re not a writer. Dr. Lyle also published a number of books on forensics for writers, too.
Holy Hannah, how had I not heard of this one before? ThrillWriting is like a combination of everything else on this list, plus some more. Operated by author Fiona Quinn, the site’s topics include weapons, the legal system, psychology, sociology, first responders and more. There’s even a post on rifle and shotgun basics. Nice. (thanks again to BJ Wolf for the tip)
An infographic about gunshot wounds led me to True Forensics, a site dedicated to art of decoding trauma. It’s full of great finds like that infographic, and you have to like that URL: fuckyeahforensics.tumblr.com. The site operators have good reason to be ostentatious.
Writer’s Homicide School
This one came as a recommendation from author BJ Wolf. The Writer’s Homicide School is a two-day course for writers hosted by Sgt. Derek Pacifico. If CSI piqued your interest, Pacifico is right up your alley. Check out a video rundown here.
Honorable Mention: Weaphones App
Weaphones is a beautifully illustrated firearm simulator for Apple and Android mobile devices. There is a simple game component to Weaphones, but the real meat is in the virtual loading, firing and reloading of a variety of firearms. It’s not a complete picture of firearm operation, but it provides a nice overview for understanding how guns work. Plus, it’s free. To get it, search for “Weaphones” in the iTunes or Android app stores.
Your Favorite Websites
Help me add to this list. What websites do you use for research? Leave a comment below.
8 thoughts on “Best Websites for Writers: Guns, Police, Forensics and More”
Great site Ben! Thank you so much for mentioning my blog 🙂
My pleasure! And if you ever want to guest post here, the door is always open for you. Your criminology posts are always so interesting.
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Thank you! Also, I will need some info from you — Emily Stone is now going to carry a knife as back up in her investigations…
Nice! What are her requirements? I could turn it into a proper blog post, too.
I’m working on a detective story, My PI generally carries two guns, a Colt .45, and a small back up gun, probably a .38, or depending on the situation, a small auto, like a .380 along with a knife or two,
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Thanks for popping over, Kenneth. Do you get specific with the models of guns and knives or do you keep it generic? And where does your PI keep the backup gun?
Former police officer Derek Pacifico has a Homicide School for writers online http://www.whs.crimewritersconsultations.com/ and the brilliant Thrill Writing blogspot! http://thrillwriting.blogspot.com.es/2014/02/home-invasion.html
Fantastic. Thank you for these recs! I’ll add them above.