Every book I've had published contains a caveat on the copyright page stating something to the effect: This is a work of fiction. Any similarity between this story and/or characters contained herein is a figment of the author's immagination and bears no resembalance to anyone living or dead. Well HOGWASH. Everything I write has some basis in fact. I'll readily admit that I have more of a memory than an immagination. My stories are based on real police cases I investigated, supervised, or just knew a lot about. Then I fictionalize and embellish them, and transplant them from New York to Tennesee. Real police work is not always a thrill a minute. So real police stories often need a little added pizzazz to make good fiction. Also, I'll paraphrase Jack Webb and his weekly opening statement on the old TV show DRAGNET; I change the names to protect the guilty...And keep me out of civil court.
My latest Sam Jenkins mystery (#6) A CAN OF WORMS, is a prime example of fictionalized police incidents that were strange enough to turn into fiction. Here's the gist: What began as a simple appointment of a local man to the Prospect Police Department, turned into a nightmare of epic proportion. A phone call from a citizen rekindled a three year old rape accusation against this probationary policeman. The investigtion went far beyond revisiting a routine rape case. Falsified reports from a local detective were uncovered. A mishandled rape complaint and what appears to be malfeassance on the parts of the investigating detectives from another jurisdiction became very embarrassing. The prosecuting District Attorney's office lost the entire case folder. A shady private investigator is sent to intimidate the complainant and a material witness. The chief at Prospect PD is threatened with scandal unless he drops the investigation. And it goes downhill from there. In short, A CAN OF WORMS. This book is a composite of two incidents originally investigated in the mid-1980s.
HINT: don't read the author's notes which follow the ending until you finish the book.
Here's the summary from the book jacket:
Against his better judgment, Police Chief Sam Jenkins hires Dallas Finchum, nephew of two corrupt politicians.
Now, Finchum is accused of a rape that occurred when he attended college in Chattanooga three years earlier.
The young man claims his innocence, but while investigating the allegations, Jenkins uncovers corruption in the local sheriff’s office, evidence that detectives mishandled the rape investigation, and the district attorney lost the entire case file.
False accusations, scandal, and extortion threaten to ruin Jenkins’ reputation and marriage unless he drops the investigation.