A Wicked Welcome to Alec Peche **plus a giveaway**

By Julie, decking the halls in Somerville

I’d delighted to welcome Alec Peche to the blog today! Alec and I met because of her work on the Sisters in Crime national board–she is the chapter liaison, which is a huge job. She also writes several books a year, and is here to tell us about her Jill Quint, MD Forensic Pathologist series. Welcome Alec!


Two years ago, I was fortunate to take a vacation to Australia and New Zealand. Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef was near the top of my bucket list or would be if I had one. I knew from the time I landed Down Under that I wanted to set one of my Jill Quint, MD Forensic Pathologist series in one or both countries.

The trouble was I had a wonderful vacation, and no one irritated me for seventeen straight days. Who could I kill in a future story? So I came away without a premise for a book. However, my back fence neighbor is an Australian fingerprint expert that works for my California County Sheriff. So I had this Australian echo coming over the fence, urging me to find a story premise. Then my neighbor was a guest speaker at my local Sisters in Crime chapter meeting. He was part of a forensic team sent by Australia to help New Zealand identify the 181 people killed in the Christchurch 2011 earthquake. He had amazing stories (and pictures) of how they identified the remains of people crushed by collapsed buildings. He also spoke of the two countries’ forensic society, and an idea was born in my head. What would a crime scene expert do to cover up his nefarious behavior? That idea cooked inside my brain until FORENSIC MURDER was born.

Other authors have discussed what’s it’s like to drop down the research rabbit hole. This book required my understanding of the organization of law enforcement in both countries. New Zealand has one police force for the country, the coroner is a lawyer, and hospital-based pathologists (in between their clinical duties) perform autopsies. There are no medical examiners with extensive experience performing autopsies on crime victims.

Australia has police forces by States as well as a Federal group. Their coroners are also attorneys as they conduct an inquest into a death. A forensic pathologist or a hospital-based pathologist will perform the autopsy, depending on the deceased’s location.

I’ve set my Jill Quint, MD series in the UK, the USA, Canada, Europe, and the South Pacific. As my stories have moved to each country, I’ve studied how law enforcement works and each country’s quirks. Australia has a deep sense of individualism, and it’s citizens object to being spied upon, so there are few road cameras. That fact hampered my ability as a writer to collect clues for Jill Quint to solve the case.

As for my writing process, when I start a book (I have 15 published novels), I love the first 1,000 words. It’s a new story and a new adventure in my mind. Then I get bogged down in the middle, wondering how I’ll solve the case, and my writing slows. The final 3-5 chapters fly by as I see how the story will end. If this sounds weird, it’s because I write by the seat of pants and start my story without knowing where it’s going. Writers who outline will shudder at my process, but I use it to complete 2-3 novels a year.  

Question – Have you noticed any quirks ascribed to a city, region, or another country that changes how law enforcement solves cases? I have one signed copy of FORENSIC MURDER to giveaway.

Biography

Alec Peche is the California author of fifteen books. Eleven releases in the Jill Quint, MD, Forensic Pathologist series feature a part-time PI, part-time vintner. Four books in the Damian Green series follow a modern-day MacGyver solving cold cases with a retired detective. I live in Northern California with my rescue dog and cat. AlecPeche.com

About Forsensic Murder

Forensic Murder takes place in Australia and New Zealand. Jill is a guest speaker at the Forensic Society Convention. She, Nathan, and Angela build some vacation time around her speaking engagement. However, from Auckland to Wellington and onto Sydney and all the cities she visits, there are people that die or become very ill. What’s going on?

34 Thoughts

  1. Your series sounds amazing, Alec! I’m not that familiar with how law enforcement differs in other countries, and I’m sure that makes for some complicated research. Lucky for me I simply get to learn by reading!

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    1. I feel fortunate to have the internet. I can’t imagine how slow the writing would be if I had to go to a physical library to do the search.

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      1. That makes me so amazed at how authors of old Traditional Whodunits like Agatha Christie got any writing done will all the research needed just to write mystery in your own town, let alone across the pond!

        I have never really paid attention to the differences in different states here in the US. (I know there are but never wanted to butt in and ask questions when I was younger.) Now, I would be so nosy they would throw me in a cell just to shut up! lol

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  2. Welcome to the blog, Jill. I write the same way you do! One of my series is set in southern Indiana, where they have lots of unincorporated towns, so law enforcement falls to the county, with state homicide detectives jumping in where are they needed. It took me a while to sort it out. The new book sounds fascinating – best of luck with it!

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    1. Thanks, Edith. It’s is doing well so far. I’ve even had a few readers ask for another book to be set in Australia. Once our quarantine is over, maybe it will be time for more research (don’t I wish).

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  3. Fascinating. I write stories based in Florida where I am familiar with the legal processes. I also live in Maine which has a completely different system and one I need to study. I cannot imagine going international! Kudos on that and getting it right.

    I’ve recently become an outliner because of that danged middle. Your process sounds delightful, and best of all – it works for you.

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    1. Still, I wish I could outline. I’ll be stuck for days trying to think of where the story should go. At the same time, I have new characters enter that I simply can’t think of at the start.

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  4. Welcome, Jill! Another pantser – well, mostly – here. So yes, your process sounds familiar.

    Like Edith, the setting for my Laurel Highlands series is a lot of small towns where the State Police is either the only police force or the one that gets called when there are major crimes, like murder. I don’t know how much it affects crime-solving, but some counties have medical examiners (who are physicians) and some have coroners (who can be anything and are frequently funeral home directors) who have to hire out pathology services.

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    1. It’s interesting how the various counties in the U.S. do the coroner. In some regions, it’s an elected office with no prior experience required. I was astounded at that. Also from all the cop shows on TV, you would think everyone gets autopsied, but it’s actually a pretty low rate.

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      1. Yep. That is exactly the case in several counties near me – including ones where my Laurel Highlands series is set. That’s why they hire out pathology. Many of them aren’t doctors.

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  5. Welcome to the Wickeds, Alec! I am so glad to find you here. My husband and I have been binging Australian police procedurals all fall, so I picked up some of the things you are talking about. I’ve been to Australia three times, always for work, but I always managed to tack on a few days for travel. I loved it there.

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    1. Try the series “Mystery Road”. It features the Outback. I was on the fourteen-hour flight home from Auckland and was so riveted by the series that I watched every episode until I landed in SF.

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    1. I did the Citizen’s Police Academy in my hometown a few years ago. One of the questions that I asked the detective was how often they worked with the FBI or other agencies. He called it an extremely rare event. Then again, we haven’t had any strange crime here so I guess that’s a good thing.

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    1. Dru, I would think that in living in NYC, it’s hard to see beyond the NYPD. I have never seen another law enforcement branch in the city. I did a quick Wikipedia search and there is a Sheriff in NYC with 150 officers compared to the 38,000 officers of the NYPD.

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  6. I cannot answer your question specifically; however, I have always found it interesting that in the United States the state of Louisiana bases their laws on the Napoleonic Code rather than English Common Law like the rest of the states. It is always fun to learn about how other places in the world are different from where we live. I remember the first time I every heard a police siren on a TV show or in a movie occurring in European location and thought how strange it was, so different from the sirens in the United States. Little things like that are fun to notice. Good luck with your book!

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    1. I know what you mean the sirens are very different. Louisiana is different in that you have parishes rather than counties. Alaska uses the word – ‘boroughs’, and the other 48 States have counties.

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  7. I grew up in Michigan and I now live in Chicago and I haven’t really noticed any differences in law enforcement. But, I really haven’t thought about it before.

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    1. One thing I think about in California is who can pull me over for speeding. Sadly I’m almost always speeding. Different roads are under different jurisdictions, though I believe any agency can step in if you’re behaving recklessly.

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  8. I’ve written about the differences between small town and big city law enforcement, the differences in responsibilities between various USA agencies, a bit about Irish law enforcement (as a result of a vacation there) but never about law enforcement Down Under. I can’t wait to read “Forensic Murder.” Fascinating journey. 🙂

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  9. I’m not up on procedures on law enforcement, but I do know this books sounds like a terrific read. Thanks for your great generosity.

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    1. Hi Linda,
      Since you’re from NoCal, my next book in this series is set there and features a female arsonist starting wildfires and leaving behind victims. Embers of Murder will be released on February 1, 2021.

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  10. I live in Cleveland, OH, and the FBI has an office downtown and get involved in certain cases. When I was growing up in a suburb, a teen set fire to the field behind our house and they eventually got the kid. Mom was out back with a garden hose to save the bushes at the edge of our backyard. The fire department used the street behind us to stage the firetruck and hoses. I enjoy reading about police procedurals and sleuths trying to solve crimes.

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  11. A quirk, not particular to any region, of some bad-apple officers to look for suspects only outside their own racial/ethnic group.

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