This week's topic is "Cops," which is a little problematic for me. I write about an archaeologist, and I write mysteries. I like for readers to feel like they're still in reality, even when they're really in my imaginary world. Thus, I put a lot of thought into whether my plots are plausible, or even possible. Any one writing a series about an amateur sleuth is going to face a particularly knotty problem: Most people do not stumble over dead bodies every year or so.
By choosing an archaeologist for my series character, I avoided some of that problem. Faye is out there digging for buried stuff all the dang time. It's not completely impossible, or even implausible, that she might encounter a corpse or a treasure big enough to inspire murder. Still, just because someone finds a buried skeleton does not mean that the police are going to involve her in the investigation or spill their guts about what they've learned. Faye's dealings with law enforcement are necessarily going to be at arm's length.
Or are they?
After a few books in which there were good reasons for Faye to be involved in the investigation, I found that she had built up something of a resume'. She had built a track record of working with police who were dealing with a specialized kind of crime. On occasion, this resume has even gotten her hired to help as a consultant. I can't say I planned it, but as I begin the eighth book in the series, I'm working with a character that a cop might want to have hanging around his or her investigation. This is incredibly freeing as I think of plots for books I might want to write in the future.
For those of you who enjoy amateur sleuth mysteries, what do you think? Do you enjoy the book more when there's a good reason for the protagonist to be involved in yet another murder? Or do you suspend your disbelief to the point where you don't really care if there's a good reason, as long as there's a good story?