Research Tool Alert: The Criminal Law Handbook
Ever write a scene involving law enforcement or legal action and fear getting your facts wrong? Then I have a book that should be on your shelves.
As an author of crime fiction, I jumped at the chance to pick up Nolo's The Criminal Law Handbook, by Attorneys Paul Bergman and Sara J. Berman, as an aid to my research. In the past, I've found guides written for the average personal too generic or slanted to be helpful, but this one is helpful, practical, and sensible, with a wealth of plain English examples to help clarify complex issues and enough depth to make it indispensable.
The book is sensibly laid-out with a detailed table of contents and index. The language of the explanations is easy to understand and has no obvious bias. Instead, it counsels restraint while clearly helping the reader understand his/her rights. I also love that www.nolo.com offers free legal updates, along with a variety of other services.
This is a terrific resource for anyone going through or having a loved one go through the legal system as a defendant, witness, or victim, or anyone who wishes to understand his/her rights. The handbook is an invaluable starting place for those writing fiction that touches on police/legal activity (though you shouldn't forget to carefully check the jurisdiction where your story's set.) And even more surprisingly, it's interesting reading with touches of humor that will keep your eyes from glazing over while researching the issues.
For a look at what's included, check out the table of contents here, at Nolo's website.