I am happy to introduce my friend and fellow author Elizabeth Heiter. I had a chance to read her new book HUNTED, and suspense lovers out there are in for a treat! Please welcome Elizabeth, who is here today with a behind-the-scenes look at her new novel. –Laura Griffin
Is there such a thing as the perfect murder?
As a suspense writer, I like the idea of a (fictional!) killer who’s too good. Someone who thinks he can stage the perfect murder.
Most crimes are solved by good, solid police work. There’s a standard trail – motive, means, and opportunity. But what happens if that trail fails? What if the killer chooses random victims he doesn’t know? What if he’s skilled in forensic countermeasures?
What happens if there’s no obvious trail to follow? There are no witnesses. Interviews lead nowhere. Physical evidence is nonexistent. Is it a perfect murder, a case destined to go cold?
Or maybe the police call in a criminal investigative analyst (commonly called a profiler).
A profiler is a professional, usually someone with degrees in fields like psychology and criminology, who can look at a crime scene and unravel the behavioral evidence – which basically means she can get inside the killer’s head. She knows what he’s thinking from the way the body was or wasn’t staged, from the elements of the crime itself, from the location and victim choice.
This field fascinates me (as you can probably tell from the picture of me with some of the research books I read prior to creating my own profiler for my debut suspense, HUNTED). How do you think like a killer? And what does that do to you, case after case?
For my purposes, I was creating an FBI profiler. Before she could even enter that field, she had to become a regular Special Agent. So, while I was getting into the nitty gritty of profiling, I also needed to learn FBI protocol, SA (Special Agent) slang, and how to shoot a weapon. To do that meant more research. Books provided a base knowledge, but interviews with current and former FBI agents filled in the details. And having an SA read my debut for accuracy gave me even more insight.
Once I had the FBI basics down, I started looking at cases profilers would tackle. I dug into real, solved cases, following exactly how real profilers went from UNSUB (unknown subject) to arrest. Then, I looked at current, unsolved cases and tried my hand at writing my own profiles. A few of those cases were solved during my research time and I could compare my “profile” to the real result – happily, I found they matched pretty well, telling me there was something to this.
Mostly, I learned to look at every piece of a crime and ask myself, “Why?” Why this victim? Why this signature? Why this location? Why this manner of death? Why, why, why? Once you add up all the “Whys,” that should lead you to the most important answer: “Who.”
At the end of it all, I decided there’s no such thing as a perfect murder, just an imperfect investigation. And behavioral analysis is definitely a key tool in catching a killer who’s “too good.”
To learn more about my debut suspense novel, HUNTED, about an FBI profiler who chases a serial killer with a track record of being “uncatchable,” visit my website at www.elizabethheiter.com.
(An advanced copy of HUNTED – before it hits stores! – will be given to one commenter!)