Do we need amateur detectives in fact or only in fiction?

You probably know I have chosen to make my hero an amateur detective. But that’s fiction, isn’t it? What about real life? I have also written about trusting the police. Unfortunately, there are times when the police fail and someone else comes to the rescue. Sometimes there is a far-reaching scandal, such as Hillsborough, the recent Gosport Hospital story, the Jimmy Saville case or the Rochdale abuse saga. Other times it is an individual miscarriage of justice, where innocent people have been convicted,  arrested or ‘merely’ smeared.

Who are the amateur detectives?

Most of the cases I have mentioned came to light only because someone kept on challenging an injustice. Often it was a relative of the victim of the injustice. Journalists (that much-maligned class) played a big part in many cases. Sometimes it was a determined solicitor (another undervalued profession, in all senses except financial).

What’s wrong with the police, that we need these amateurs?

In all the examples I have cited, the police either failed to act, failed to act properly, or managed to arrest the wrong person. Some people say this is evidence of widespread corruption and/or incompetence. I do not believe that our police are all corrupt or incompetent. Of course, some must be. But that’s not the real issue in most cases.

What can an amateur do?

Once the police focus on a prime suspect, they seem to abandon all other lines of enquiry and look only at evidence relating to that person. Even when there is a successful appeal, all too often the police do not look for the real culprit, because they convince themselves that the person they arrested was really guilty and just ‘got off on a legal technicality’. We need an amateur, if anyone is to look beyond the obvious suspect and solve the case properly .

What is my amateur detective, Frank Hill, doing?

I am still rewriting the second in my series, Accounting for Murder. I hope you enjoyed the first, Double Entry.

The subtitle of this second book is Old Money. Frank has to solve a murder, while looking into an apparent haunting, which may or may not be connected. He also has problems in his relationship with his wife, Sian.

Frank is going to find plenty more cases to solve in future. He seems to have a knack for discovering bodies and for disagreeing with the constabulary. It’s fiction. But only just!