Posted by: nancycurteman | August 20, 2011

Crime Scene Investigation Strategies For the Mystery Writer

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In a mystery novel there are many different kinds of crime scenes and many different kinds of sleuths so crime scene investigations will vary. No matter what kind of crime scene or sleuth in your novel, there are some basic investigative strategies you should make certain your sleuth uses.

• Your sleuth should determine if there was indeed a crime committed and establish the location of the dastardly deed.

• Have your sleuth arrive at the scene as early as possible before evidence is contaminated by a horde of curious onlookers.

• Either your amateur sleuth or her detective friend should make certain the crime scene is cordoned off with police tape.

• Evidence collection is essential to the crime scene investigation. Have your sleuth wear gloves to collect evidence. An amateur sleuth might pick up pieces of evidence using fabricated glove substitutes—tissue paper, plastic Baggies. Be creative. The goal is not to contaminate the evidence

• Appropriate packaging of evidence is critical. A professional detective will have all the equipment needed to do the job. An amateur may have to resort to the plastic Baggies or facial tissues or some other kind of clever container.

• Have your sleuth pull out a notebook and record every piece of evidence and the location in which each was found. A detective would photograph the evidence in its location before removing it from the scene. With smart phones your sleuth can do the same.

• If there are bystanders, have your sleuth interview them about what they may have seen. Again, your sleuth needs to pull out her little notebook and record all the details so she can put the puzzle pieces together later.

The crime scene holds many secrets that will be important to your detective or amateur sleuth in discovering the villain. Handle it carefully.

More writing tips:

Clues: The Building Blocks of a Mystery Novel


  1. In the book I’m reading now, a parrot is trying to share clues with the private detective and police. Thus far, they’ve paid the parrot no mind. 😀


    • It’s HITCHED by Carol Higgins Clark.

      I’m enjoying the story but . . . some of the “thoughts” the omnipotent narrator shares are {{cough, cough}} inane beyond belief. 😀


      • I loveMary Higgins Clark novels. I should try some of her daughter’s novels. A parrot?? Really different.


  2. Of course it depends in which millieu the crime takes place, but the standards should be very similar.


  3. Many investigators are aware of ‘Locard’s Law/Principle’ which dictates when two principles exchange contact; i.e. your investigator entering a crime scene is aware he/she will undoubtedly leave trace evidence if their presence. Therefore, the cautious and methodical investigator surveys their crime scene. Enters with care and mentally notes evidence. Documents with photographs and diagrams before disturbing it.


    • Excellent points. I especially think your comment about surveying the crime scene before entering is important. I also like the addition of creating diagrams.


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