Today I am absolutely thrilled to be on the tour bus with Cherly Rees-Price and her second novel in the DI Winter Meadows Series, Frozen Minds.
Published by Accent Press in October 2016, Frozen Minds is a novel based around a murder in a residential care home, Bethesda House. DI Meadows is called in to solve the case.
Cheryl has written a fabulous guest post for us today about the impact of technology in the criminal world and how far these advances have progressed from the early works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
CRIME AND TECHNOLOGY
When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s first work, ‘A study in Scarlett’ was accepted for publication, it was 1886, long before the invention of forensic technology. Yet Sherlock Holmes was a scientific detective, well advanced for the time period.
It wasn’t until 1920 that the first evidence kit was introduced. Up until then detectives were fumbling around, touching evidence, and the body with bare hands.
It was the British forensic pathologist Sir Bernard Spilsbury who put together a collection of items which became known as the ‘murder bag.’ These contained rubber gloves, a magnifying glass, a tape measure, tweezers, swabs, and paper bags. Now it is no longer the detective in charge that carries these items but a whole team of forensic officers armed with hi tech equipment.
They can collect microscopic fibres, analyse and identify with great accuracy.
One of the most significant advancements in forensic technology is DNA profiling.
Developed by Professor Alec Jeffreys it enables positive identification of an individual from minute traces of body fluid, hair, skin or bone. The first killer convicted using DNA evidence in the UK was Colin Pitchfork. Pitchfork raped and strangled two teenage girls in 1983 and 1986.
This sparked the first ever mass DNA screening with 4,000 men, between the ages of 17 to 34, being tested in the area.
So what does all this advancement in forensic technology mean for the crime writer?
Is it a help or a hindrance?
Agatha Christie managed fairly well without the aid of DNA profiling in her 66 novels.
Writing in the 1920’s Christie used a classic mystery structure. A murder is committed, multiple suspects concealing secrets, then the detective uncovers the secrets over the course of the story. There are sometimes physical clues along the way. An empty bottle of nail polish in ‘Death on the Nile’ and an empty glass with drug traces in ‘Murder on the Orient Express.’ Mainly the plot relies on detection by gaining information from witnesses and suspects.
The lack of forensic details does not hinder the investigation, and these stories have remained timeless.
Crime writers now have to do a fair amount of research into forensic science covering forensic anthropology and pathology, criminology and psychology as well as computer forensics. All this while trying not to weigh down the narrative with technical jargon. I rather enjoy researching these topics and often get away with watching CSI claiming that I am working. Despite all the forensic advancement a lot of crime solving still comes down to old fashioned ‘leg work’. A DNA profile is not going to catch the perpetrator on its own, unless they are on the database. Witness statements and interviews can certainly still play a large part in fictional writing.
Technology does have its upside. We now have a wealth of information at our fingertips. Access to police procedures, the legal system, and forensic techniques all from the comfort of our own home. I’m not sure what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would have made of all this technology but I would imagine he would still be one step ahead and have a multitude of followers on twitter.
Frozen Minds ~ Book Blurb:
When a man is found murdered at Bethesda House, a home for adults with learning difficulties, local people start to accuse the home’s residents of being behind the killing. The victim was a manager at the home, and seemingly a respectable and well-liked family man.
DI Winter Meadows knows there’s more to the case than meets the eye. As he and his team investigate, Meadows discovers a culture of fear at the home – and some unscrupulous dealings going on between the staff.
Does the answer to the case lie in the relationships between the staff and the residents – or is there something even more sinister afoot?
Purchase Link : Frozen Minds
Cheryl Rees-Price was born in Cardiff and moved as a young child to a small ex-mining village on the edge of the Black Mountains, South Wales, where she still lives with her husband, daughters and two cats. After leaving school she worked as a legal clerk for several years before leaving to raise her two daughters.
Cheryl returned to education, studying philosophy, sociology and accountancy whilst working as a part time book keeper. She now works as a finance director for a company that delivers project management and accounting services.
In her spare time Cheryl indulges in her passion for writing, the success of writing plays for local performances gave her the confidence to write her first novel. Her other hobbies include walking and gardening which free her mind to develop plots and create colourful characters.