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Books, Crooks and Counselors: How to Write Accurately about Criminal Law and Courtroom Procedure

Overview

Addressing the misunderstood and misrepresented aspects of the law in today's writing, this reliable guidebook demonstrates how to use legal concepts, terminology, and procedure to create fiction that is true to life and crackling with real-world tension. Examples from actual cases are provided along with excerpts of authentic courtroom dialogue. Topics covered include criminal and civil law; differences between federal, state, and Native American jurisdiction; police and private investigation; wills and ...

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Overview

Addressing the misunderstood and misrepresented aspects of the law in today's writing, this reliable guidebook demonstrates how to use legal concepts, terminology, and procedure to create fiction that is true to life and crackling with real-world tension. Examples from actual cases are provided along with excerpts of authentic courtroom dialogue. Topics covered include criminal and civil law; differences between federal, state, and Native American jurisdiction; police and private investigation; wills and inheritances; and the written and unwritten codes that govern the public and private conduct of lawyers and judges. Providing a quick and simple legal reference, this handbook is the key to creating innovative plots, strong conflicts, authentic characters, and gritty realism.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Thorough, well-organized, and authoritative, this excellent reference also has touches of humor." —""Mystery Scene"" (June 2012)
From the Publisher
"Thorough, well-organized, and authoritative, this excellent reference also has touches of humor." —""Mystery Scene"" (June 2012)
Library Journal
Budewitz, an attorney-at-law who has been published in mystery magazines, wrote this book to help crime writers wade through the time-consuming and often confusing process of legal research. She provides an insider's perspective on often overlooked legal concepts and pinpoints common errors writers make when incorporating criminal and civil law into their fiction. The book covers 160 topics, including proper legal terminology, realistic courtroom behavior and dialog, proper procedure (both at the state and at the federal level), and the legal system as a whole. The frequently asked questions featured in each chapter are also arranged by topic within the table of contents, enabling readers to pick and choose the legal aspects most relevant to their writing. The final chapter offers guidance on conducting legal research, and the "Book Links" section references useful URLs listed throughout. VERDICT Budewitz's material is straightforward and user-friendly. Her content will help shave off hours of research time and enable writers to focus more energy on craft, plot, and character development. Highly recommended for aspiring writers of crime fiction. [Quill Driver also published Carolyn Kaufman's The Writer's Guide to Psychology.—Ed.]—Karen McCoy, Northern Arizona Univ. Lib., Flagstaff
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781610350198
  • Publisher: Linden Publishing
  • Publication date: 10/1/2011
  • Pages: 205
  • Sales rank: 855,940
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Leslie Budewitz is a practicing lawyer with more than 25 years of civil and criminal experience. Her short fiction has been featured in "Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine," "Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine," "Fish Tales: The Guppy Anthology," "Thug Lit," and the "Whitefish Review," and her nonfiction has appeared in the anthologies "Comfort for Cat Lovers" and "Cup of Comfort for Dog Lovers, Vol. II." She lives in Bigfork, Montana.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 7, 2012

    Some writers depress with their brilliance, making an aspiring w

    Some writers depress with their brilliance, making an aspiring writer feel they've sucked up all the great ideas and left nothing for the rest of us. Leslie Budewitz provides a great antidote to this problem. Her legal reference, "Books, Crooks and Counselors," teems with ideas for writers based on the realm of criminal law and courtroom procedure. She inspires with abundance of detail -- it becomes clear that all the writers in the world couldn't use up the infinite material coming out of court cases.

    Budewitz provides evocative examples of putting legal knowledge to use in fiction -- for example, the relentless plot line of "Winter's Bone" is driven by a teenager's desperation to find her missing father before his bail is forfeited. She draws us to an appreciation of the use of both famous and obscure cases in developing new story lines and provides cautionary notes that almost anticipate a writer's potential blunder.

    This is by no means a dry reference manual, although law students would doubtless become more engaged in learning if it became a standard text. Budewitz lets us in on some of the seriously funny things that happen to lawyers, the real you can't make this up stuff. She tells a hilarious story about the person she was deposing becoming so irate with her tactics that he lunged across the table at her, causing the court reporter to knock over her machine. And then ..... Well I'll let you read "Books, Crooks" to find out for yourself.

    I could have really used Budewitz's explanation of the discovery process the year I represented myself when my small claims suit got appealed to district court. The judge didn't rule me in contempt for my bumblings but I know he was stifling a big chuckle as he tried to keep me straight regarding the rules of evidence. I can't say that I recommend representing oneself in court (too painful and time consuming although I did win my case) but I do highly recommend that writers and other interested parties rush out and get a copy of "Books, Crooks" as an essential reference for any number of criminal and civil purposes.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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