Wickeds, continuing our discussion of June bugs, let’s talk about surveillance and spy craft. Do your characters use technology to help with their sleuthing? Are you tempted to use ring doorbells or tiny cameras? How about in your own life? True confessions, do you have any interest in spying on people?
Edith/Maddie: The only surveillance I do is from my second floor office windows, monitoring what goes on on our quiet street, which is kind of spying on people (we get a lot of walkers). I do love to people watch and listen in on conversations, but with my restaurant-going still not quite resumed, I miss that. In Murder in a Cape Cottage, Mac installs cameras at the back of her shop and Tim’s bakery after a rash of thefts on Main Street. None of my characters has ever bugged an office or attached a tracking device to a car.
Barb: I wrote a book about digital gaslighting (Jane Darrowfield and the Madwoman Next Door), which caused me to delve into the uses and potential misuses of home security systems. We do have one at our house and that was part of the inspiration for the book. Often with a couple, one will take charge of the system and really understand it and the other will be, “Whatever. As long as I can get in and out of the house.” I am that latter person. So it was creepy to me how a lack of knowledge like that could be used against someone.
Liz: Barb, that would totally be me too…and I agree it’s creepy! None of my characters have ever used any kind of digital tracking device, although it’s probably something Maddie would enjoy very much. In the Full Moon books, Violet was the victim of magickal electronic surveillance – which is a plot thread that will likely be revisited.
Sherry: In one of the Sarah Winston books she used a thermal-imaging device to see how many people were in a house when CJ had been kidnapped. And the upcoming Rum and Choke has a thread about locks and security systems. As for me? I’ve always been curious about people’s lives and loved people watching — is that spying? Nope — at least that’s what I tell myself.
Jessie: Since I write historical mysteries the technology is of an earlier era and I can ignore things like surveillance cameras for the most part. I I have to admit that I prefer it that way! I am not all that interested in alarm systems and am like Barb in preferring to be the one who isn’t the expert! That said, I did use a photographer with a hidden camera gadget in one of my Change of Fortune novels and found it rather fun. I also loved a visit to the Spy Museum in Washington D.C. with two of my sons a few years ago! I loved creeping through an air duct like a spy in a movie!
Julie: In The Plot Thickets, a doorbell camera plays a role in the plot, as does Lilly’s inability to access the camera. Delia and Roddy are there to help. My condo is installing a new buzzer system, and I’ll be able to see people and buzz them in with my phone. I love technology, but will admit that the widespread use of cameras freaks me out a bit. I watch a lot of British television shows, and I’m not sure how anyone gets away with anything these days.
Readers, how do you feel about tech in your mysteries? Is it a cop out, or do you love gadgets coming to the rescue?