Thursday, August 11, 2011






When I first started writing novels, I had a tendency to run my protagonists through major character changing gauntlets. By the end of one of my early novels, the protagonist’s emotional and physical situation had changed completely. This made the writing of sequels very difficult.

As a result, when I created the main character of L.A.P.D. homicide detective Fey Croaker, I established a four book story arc even before the first book was written – let alone sold.

I knew each plot would stand alone, but I wanted to play out Fey’s personal journey across the first three books before forcing her to confront the demons from her past in the fourth novel. To accomplish this, I surrounded Fey with a squad of other detectives, whose lives and conflicts would help to expand the storylines.

Arch Hammersmith and Rhonda Lawless (known and feared as Hammer & Nails), Brindle Jones (a black female detective fighting for recognition), her partner, Abraham Benjamin Cohen (AKA: Alphabet), and Fey’s second-in-command, Monk Lawson, all get put through the ringer over the first four books in the series. So, while the books are definitely belong to Fey, the other regular characters helped to both enrich and add depth.

One reviewer assessed the series as Prime Suspect colliding with Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct. I couldn’t have come up with a more flattering, or better, comparison for what I was trying to achieve.

In the first book in the series, Croaker: Kill Me Again, I wanted to really put the pressure on Fey. I wanted to explore the cracks in her character, and I wanted to put the spotlight in the different and specific pressures brought to bear on women in law enforcement leadership positions.

I’ve been fortunate in my own law enforcement career where all of my long-term partners have been female. Without exception, they have been motivated, dedicated, loyal, and perfectly capable of kicking butt when the occasions arose. They did this while also battling the deeply male nature of law enforcement in general and the male dominated bureaucracy.

Having worked with female partners for so long – I’m in my 35th year with the Los Angeles Police Department, with over 25 years experience investigating sex crimes – I’ve seen firsthand all of the things women in law enforcement were forced to face – things that were non-issues for their male counterparts.

While still telling a good story, I particularly wanted to explore the reasons behind why the personal lives and relationships of females in law enforcement are often even more screwed up (if that’s possible) than those of the males on the job.

In Croaker: Kill Me Again, Fey and her crew are under pressure due to a string of unsolved, yet unconnected, murders. When a fresh homicide occurs, Fey can only hope it is a smoking gun case – something she can wrap up quickly. However, when the victim is identified as a woman thought to have been murdered 18 years earlier, it’s clear the case has taken a turn for the complicated and deadly.

Within this framework, I was able to weave in much of the material I’d experienced working with female partners, or discovered during the course of writing the novel. For me, gratification came when, after reading the book, female cops would approach me demanding to know how I knew these things.

I enjoyed the experience of writing about Fey and her crew. Being able to play out the character arcs over the larger canvas of four novels gave me something more to write about – something to say beyond who-dun-it.

I’m also grateful for the explosion of e-publishing that has made it possible for the Detective Fey Croaker L.A.P.D. novels to be available again to a new audience.

A thirty-five year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, Paul Bishop has twice been honored as Detective of the Year. As well as numerous novels, he has also written scripts for episodic television and feature films. As a nationally recognized interrogator, he appears regularly on the hit ABC reality series Take The Money And Run . . .

Paul blogs at and you can follow him on Twitter @bishsbeat


Paul Bishop said...

Thx, Patti!

Paul D Brazill said...

Sounds like a goodun!

Anonymous said...

Great interview. Enjoyed reading it this afternoon Thanks Patti and Paul!

Ed Lynskey