As you know from this web blog site, I’m plotting the story of a crime fiction novel series. Herein lies the difficulties I have so far encountered. A private investigator in the UK has no more rights within the law as you or I, going about our own business.
My protagonist is a self-employed private investigator, and she works within the law. Although, she may in certain circumstances, bend the law to the benefit of the client; i.e. sub-sub-genre; crime fiction noir.
Crimes have happened, and murders occur in public places. My story is set in a shop within the Oracle Shopping Centre in Reading. Having visited the shopping centre and parked in the multi-level car park in which you receive a ticket containing your own vehicle number plate marked and the date/time you entered. There are cameras on buses and trains. A few years ago I was on Jury Service in Reading, and one of the offenders was seen walking down the main high street with the stolen item, on a video camera.
Things must be realistic and plausible in this story. Performing a crime these days you need to plan everything to a great detail. If a shop entrance within the Oracle Shopping Centre is videoed continuously, then how does someone commit a crime within the shop and escape undetected? They would have to know what cameras there were and what scenes they were capturing, when and how long if the cameras were panning around. Also, a change of clothing, and hair colour.
Things that give messages about people, and can be used in evidence:
1, Hands & fingernails condition, hand cuts or blisters.
2, How well shaven, beard long/short, small cuts or red areas indicate wet shave, else electric.
3, Stains on hands if they smoke, left or right handedness would be evident.
4, Left or right handed, crossed arms – the dominant arm underneath.
5, What type of footwear, shiny, dirt or mud, worn soles, shoelaces or slip-on.
6, Limps or limb damage, the speed of the walk.
7, Glasses, longsighted or shortsighted, varifocals possible.
8, Mobile phone, silent ring, vibrating or big ring, how loud, type – iPhone or simple.
9, Makeup on a woman, what colour lipstick.
10, Smells, perfume, burning smoke, cooking food.
11, Trousers creased behind knees if sat down a lot during the week in a suit.
12, Vehicle type, sports, estate, saloon, works car – else walks, public transport.
13, Car keys, house key, any other keys on ring or assistance items such as a knife, etc.
14, Tablets, liquid medicine kind and dosage.
15, Ring on left-hand ring finger if married, type would indicate engaged or fully married.
16, Surplus items on clothing such as hair or stains, torn clothes or missing buttons.
17, Location of excess hair or stains would indicate the reason, possible pets.
The private investigator in my fiction can’t take fingerprints, but shoe prints are available to be photographed. Also, if first on the scene of an accident or murder that has occurred, the P.I. can inspect and take photos but not alter anything. Being aware that under forensic science your own presence and movements will be evident to the police after forensic inspection.
N.B. I have not visited the Oracle Shopping Centre, or any other shops in that vicinity, with the intent of observing their surveillance cameras. This aspect I am creating my own scenario that fits into my story.
Fig. 1. The ticket I received from the car park at the Oracle shopping centre.