Where the Research Takes Us: Trapped Ghosts, Guns on Planes, and Killer Microphones

by Kassandra Lamb (on behalf of the whole gang) ~ We writers frequently encounter situations in our stories where we might not know all the necessary details to make the scene realistic. So we turn to research (which is a lot easier today with the internet). Where does the research take us? To some pretty interesting places sometimes. But also, occasionally, some frustrating and/or scary places!

Guns On Planes…Oh my!

When I was writing my last C.o.P. on the Scene mystery, I was sending Chief of Police Judith Anderson to Mexico to confront a murder suspect—a rich and powerful man who did not know that he was a suspect. She (rather emphatically) insisted on taking her Glock. I could hardly blame her.

where the research takes us -- gun safes for planes
(from Amazon.com)

So I researched if law enforcement officers (LEOs) can take their firearms with them when they travel. And I discovered that they can.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about that…guns on planes? Until I read on.

The gun has to be unloaded, packed a certain way and double locked. There are portable gun safes designed for just such a purpose.

The locked safe is then placed inside a locked suitcase (Judith used a hard-sided carry-on bag). But the LEO can’t carry it onto the plane. It must be declared at the check-in desk (where airline personnel may or may not inspect it), then it is checked and goes into the cargo hold.

So far so good, but then I hit a snag in my research. For a U.S. LEO to carry their guns into Mexico, they would have to have prior clearance from the Mexican Secretariat of National Defense. Okay, this was getting a bit complicated.

Which brings me to a confession…we authors may decide to leave some things out. I figured that little bureaucratic tidbit wasn’t really necessary and might bog down the story.

Mining for an Abandoned Mine

And sometimes we strike out with our research and/or go down interesting but fruitless rabbit holes.

photo by Raul Najera on Unsplash.com

Candace Carter set out to find a real abandoned mine in North Carolina, to use as a setting for part of her work-in-progress. Searching online, she found a couple of news articles about mining history—which led to a North Carolina Geological Survey from the 1990s. She discovered that the gold in that state petered out in the 1870s. After that most mines were going after iron, and then mica—a mineral used in a lot of products. Those mines were closed in the 1960s, when it became cheaper to get mica from foreign sources.

The survey report mentioned many “uncatalogued” mines in the area she was looking at, but did not mention specific locations. Since she needed an abandoned mine, she had to abandon her research and rely on a writer’s most important tool of all—her imagination.

Other Times, Results Can Be Shocking

As mystery writers, we are constantly looking for new and different ways to kill off our characters.

where the research takes us -- killer microphones
(photo by Nick Moore on Unsplash.com)

Vinnie Hansen was invited to submit a short story to a music-themed anthology. She wanted to electrocute the “bad guy” while he was performing on stage, so she did some research to find out if that was plausible.

Turns out not only could it happen, it has happened! Several times.

The first rock-and-roll star to die this way was Les Harvey, lead guitarist for Stone the Crows. In 1972, he grabbed an improperly grounded mic in front of 1200 fans in Swansea, Wales. And he was zapped into the “27 Club.” (Many famous musicians have died at age 27—Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Amy Winehouse, Kurt Cobain, and Jim Morrison to name a few.)

One caveat, it’s easier for this to happen in countries that, unlike the USA, use 220-volt outlets.

Setting “Casperina,” the Friendly Ghost, Free

Poor Les Harvey may very well have ended up a ghost who is stuck on the earth plane, similar to a ghost character in the romantic suspense story I’m currently working on.

My ghost character is benevolent. She’s protective of her living friends, but they want to help her move on.

When I set out to research a plausible way to do this, all I could find were articles on exorcisms or ceremonies to cleanse negative “ghost” energy from a space. I didn’t want to banish this poor girl; I wanted to gently set her free from the earth plane!

Where the research takes us -- releasing ghosts
(photo by Content Pixie on Unsplash.com)

It took awhile but I finally found such a ceremony. I included the less out-there elements of that ceremony—such as smudging the participants with smoke from burning sage—along with some made-up components.

It seemed to work. (Of course it did; it’s fiction!) “Casperina” was set free.

We hope you’ve found these tidbits from where our research takes us interesting!

Stay tuned! In a couple of weeks, Kirsten Weiss will be sharing some of her background info on reading Tarot cards, from her upcoming release, The Mysteries of Tarot. Check it out below. It’s now available for Preorder!

The Mysteries of Tarot (The Tea and Tarot Mysteries Book 7) ~ by Kirsten Weiss

When Tarot reader Hyperion Night sent his manuscript, The Mysteries of Tarot, to a friend to edit, it was a simple guide to reading Tarot. Hyperion couldn’t anticipate that his editor’s notes would evolve into a murder mystery, or that his friend would go missing. Shockingly, the annotated manuscript eventually made its way back to Hyperion, who forwarded it to the authorities.

Now this astonishing Tarot guide is available as a book. The Tarot guidebook features:

  • Tarot basics―How to manage different interpretations of cards in a spread, how to read court cards, and a clear and simple method for dealing with reversals.
  • Detailed card breakdowns― Keywords, flash non-fiction narratives, and a deep dive into the symbols of each of the 78 cards of the Major Arcana and Minor Arcana.
  • Questions to apply to the cards for transforming your life―Insightful questions for each card to help you dig deeper into your Tarot reading practice.

Bonus feature: the guidebook also includes his editor’s comments on the more esoteric and philosophical interpretations of the Tarot, as well as his notes on the baffling mystery that engulfed him.

Gain deep insight from the cards, transform yourself, and solve The Mysteries of Tarot with this work of experimental fiction that’s part Tarot guidebook, part murder mystery.


RELEASES MAY 31, 2023!

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington psychological mysteries, set in her native Maryland, the Marcia Banks and Buddy cozy mysteries, set in Central Florida, and the C.o.P. on the Scene police procedurals, set in northern Florida. She also writes romantic suspense under the pen name of Jessica Dale.

Misterio press produces an array of quality crime fiction. We post here twice a month, usually on Tuesdays, to alert you to new releases, to entertain, and to inform.

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  • Reply
    Pamela Meyer
    May 16, 2023 at 7:22 am

    This post was great fun! Thanks.

    • Reply
      Kassandra Lamb
      May 17, 2023 at 7:46 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it, Pamela!!

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