Ever wonder what happens if you’re assaulted on a cruise ship? Or if you’re mugged while on vacation somewhere in the Caribbean? Who handles the investigations and what are their policies? Author John Lindermuth recently had to deal with these dilemmas. No, fortunately John was not mugged or attacked while on vacation. But at least one of his characters apparently was. And John had to get his facts straight.
John is here to share some of the things he learned. But, first, meet the man behind the words: (He’s a shy guy, so I improvised a little.)
The author of 11 novels, including five in his Sticks Hetrick mystery series, J. R. Lindermuth is a retired newspaper editor. He lives in Pennsylvania and currently serves as librarian of his county historical society where he assists patrons with genealogy and research. His short stories and articles appear regularly in a variety of magazines. When not writing, he enjoys spending time with his two children and four grandsons.
Twitter: http://twitter.com/jrlindermuth or @jrlindermuth
Here’s a look at John’s new release:
Trouble follows Sticks Hetrick when he and Anita Bailey, the new woman in his life, go on a Caribbean cruise. Though he has no jurisdiction, Hetrick assists a Jamaican police inspector investigate two murders which have roots back home in Pennsylvania.
Meanwhile, Officer Flora Vastine, Hetrick’s protégé and the team in Swatara Creek, are probing mysterious assaults on young women which will put Flora’s life in jeopardy.
Both Hetrick and Flora will learn the past has consequences which can’t be denied.
Now I’m happy to turn the microphone over to John:
Though they realize a story is fiction, most readers demand a semblance of truth. They want what they’re reading to seem realistic. Should they note something they know to be false, the writer is certain to hear about it.
Writers resolve this problem through research—either through experience (the best kind) or by other means.
Since the previous four novels in my Sticks Hetrick mystery series were set in a town of my creation I was free to lay out the streets, describe the homes and other structures and develop businesses as I saw fit. Occasionally my characters cross the Susquehanna River to visit Harrisburg, Pennsylvania’s state capitol. Since I’m reasonably familiar with the environs of the city, that hasn’t proven a problem either.
Practice To Deceive, fifth in the series, involves crimes at sea and murder on foreign soil. Getting those elements right required research. Some people hate research. Personally, I love it. I owe it largely to a strong streak of curiosity about what makes people and things tick. It became second nature through my background in journalism and later as a genealogist. The only problem with this is it often leads me astray and into tangents away from my initial goal. But that’s another story.
I’ve cruised and I’ve visited Jamaica. That gave me personal experience and a leg up in describing those aspects accurately. Like most of us, though, I had no idea how a crime aboard ship or on Jamaica would be investigated. The best way to find the answer to any question is to ask people who’ve confronted the issue.
Cruise ship officials, understandably, are reluctant to discuss certain aspects of their security efforts. I was able to get answers from some personnel and the Internet and other sources filled in the blanks.
The cruise ship lines have security personnel on board, though the size of the staff may vary with the type of vessel and destination. Military background predominates among personnel, while some may have previous law enforcement experience. The focus is on assuring a safe environment for both passengers and crew. Security cameras play an important role and, in addition to uniformed officers, plain clothes personnel are also used on many lines.
The governing law at sea is the International Maritime Law. The FBI is the only U.S. law enforcement agency empowered to investigate major crime, but only if it occurs in international waters. The FBI decides whether an agent is dispatched to the ship or waits until the return to a U.S. port. Otherwise crimes are reported to the jurisdiction of the nearest port of call and the embassies of the victims.
Law enforcement on Jamaica is the responsibility of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, which has the motto “To serve, to protect and to reassure.” Officers receive basic training at a police academy in St. Catherine after which they undergo two-years of on-the-job probationary training at assigned police stations or courts. Though crime remains a serious problem and there have been incidents of both excessive violence and corruption involving police, things seem to be improving under the administration of the new commissioner, Owen Ellington. In fact, statistics show a continuing decline in both violent and property crimes on the island since 2009.
I visited Jamaica way back in the late nineties. The island is gorgeous, but the poverty was heartbreaking and the crime terrifying. Good to know things are getting better there.
Here’s a look at John’s books on Amazon, in both print and Kindle format:
I hope you’ll take the time to connect with John and his fictional world.
Thanks for reading.