When crime writers try to draft the perfect novel, they want all of the elements to play together. They want the crime of the century to rattle the readers, they want the officer in charge of the investigation to be personally affected by the Case, or they want him to be the only one who solves the case, winning the respect of his department and colleagues. Maybe they want a young detective to solve the case on his or her own merit and surprise everyone in the novel, including the readers.

But in reality, nothing is like the novel that we strive to write.

In fact, it is rare that only one or two people work the case as you often find in some stories and even on television shows. In small towns, officers from out of town are often called in to help investigate the case. The reality is that if a murder case was to be investigated by one or two people alone, the case might take much longer to solve. A real-life police officer and writer Lisa Cutts opens up about what crime novels often get wrong. It sounds like one of the major things is actually how the police work on a case and the team behind it.

It's a team effort

Lisa explains that it is common for novelists to focus on the main detective, perhaps an inspector, and the sergeant. These two work together to solve the case, possibly with the help of a young detective who knows absolutely nothing about solving a homicide.

But Cutts explains that this is nothing like reality. She explains that the number of officers who are involved in solving a case often go above 100. There are many officers involved in solving a case, as every officer plays a role.

Perhaps one team goes out to talk to the neighbors and canvassed the entire neighborhood to see if they can find anything.

One team may be in charge of locating the missing person or perhaps the body of a deceased person. Some of the investigators may be specialists in combing through a crime scene and collecting evidence. It is rarely just one or two people who are working on the case. But Lisa understands why novelists choose the direction that they do.

It would simply drive people crazy

She explains that in reality, there are over 100 offices working on a single case but she understands that it would be quite a headache for an author to keep track of so many characters. In addition, editors would have a fit trying to figure out who is doing what and what their importance is to the novel. Readers would have to take notes on the side to keep up with all of the officers while trying to figure out the importance of the crime. In reality, it's all about the team working together, and it's all about solving the crime together. But in a fiction novel, it's more about developing a few characters and learning what the crime story means to them. Maybe it's a personal connection to the case, or maybe the protagonist is truly affected by what he or she has experienced.

If it was simply a cop solving a case, closing the case, and moving onto the next, one could argue that the novel concept was lacking.

Are you surprised that authors don't keep crime stories close to what reality is really like for a detective?