RARA-AVIS: Re: Another cop turned writer

From: JIM DOHERTY (jimdohertyjr@yahoo.com)
Date: 29 Oct 2008

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    Re Jonathan's comment below:

    "Does anyone know of criminal writers and I can only think of one cop writer in Joseph Wambaugh."

    I'm crushed. Crushed!

    All those responses to Jonathan's post, and no one thought to mention your obediant servant? A police officer most of his adult life, a Spur winner, a Dagger nominee, and a Rare Bird lo these many years, and not a single mention?

    Leaving myself aside, a few more cops turned crime writer.

    Leslie T. White, L.A. County D.A.'s Investigator and author of the autobiography ME, DETECTIVE and the cop novels HARNESS BULL and HOMICIDE.

    Jess Kimbrough, retired LAPD detective lieutenant, and one of the highest ranking black officers in that department when he retired in 1939, who wrote DEFENDER OF THE ANGELS, a novel based on his experiences policing L.A. in the '20's and '30's.

    Dallas Barnes, who worked Narcotics and Homicide in LAPD's Southwest Division prior to writing novels like SEE THE WOMAN, BADGE OF HONOR, and YESTERDAY IS DEAD, as well as scripts for TV shows like HUNTER, JOE FORRESTER, etc.

    John Ball, who found the police work he researched for his Virgil Tibbs novels so fascinating that he became a reserve deputy in the L.A. County Sheriff's Office, eventually turning those experiences into fiction in THE VAN and THE MURDER CHILDREN.

    Gene Roddenberry, who was a sergeant in LAPD, working as Chief Parker's perosnal secretary, and the department's liason to Jack Webb. He broke into TV writing by turning case files into story treatments for DRAGNET that were then fleshed out into full scripts by Webb's stable of writers. Later, using a pseudonym, he wrote full scripts for shows like HIGHWAY PATROL. He'S better known for STAR TREK than for his cop show scripts, OF COURSE, but cop shows are how he broke into the industry.

    Former US Secret Service Agent Gerald Petievich wrote four novels about Secret Service agents in Los Angeles based on his own experiences, and one novel based on the experiences of his brother, John, as a detective in LAPD's C.R.A.S.H. unit.

    And that's just in the Los Angeles area.

    Still sticking to California, there's Inyo County Deputy Sheriff Kirk Mitchell, San Diego PD Detective Sergeant Jack Mullen, San Francisco Police Officer Jerry Kenneally, San Jose Police Chief Joseph McNamara. Oakland Police Officer Kent Anderson (though, strictly speaking, his NIGHT DOGS seems to be based on his time in the Portland, OR, Police, prior to his lateral transfer to OPD), and San Jose Police Investigator David Scannell.

    In Louisiana there's O'Neill de Noux and B.J. Bourg. In Texas, there's Anne Wingate and Richard Abshire. In Florida there's Cherokee Paul MacDonald. In Vermont there's Archer Mayor. In Tennessee there's David Hunter.

    And how about FBI Agents like Gordon Gordon, Paul Lindsey, Arthur Nehrbass, Christopher Whitcomb, and Gus Riehl?

    The rest of the world? There's Britain's John Wainwright, Basil Thomson, Joan Lock, Graham Ison, and Peter Walker. The Netherlands' A.C. Bantjer and Janwillem van de Wetering. The Soviet Union's Fridrikh Neznansky. Finland's Matti Joensuu. India's Yogesh Pratap.

    As for ex-cons, has anyone on this thread mentioned former FBI Top Tenner Albert Nussbaum or white-collar criminal and Edgar-winner Paul Erdman? How about Malcom Braly, who was the subject of a very recent thread?

    Finally, regarding the writer who started this thread, who was neither a cop nor a criminal, David Goodis, if you don't think he was capable of writing with verisimilitude, with what a famous mystery editor once called "technical verity," check out his pioneering, and quite well-researched, police procedural novel OF MISSING PERSONS. Untypical, I grat you, but damned good.

    Longest-winded I've been in a while. Hope you didn't mind.



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