Cover art for podcast Criminal Mischief: The Art and Science of Crime Fiction

Criminal Mischief: The Art and Science of Crime Fiction

55 EpisodesProduced by DP LyleWebsite

Crime fiction and criminal investigations are equal parts art and science. Creating compelling crime stories that ring true requires attention to character, plot, POV, voice, and so much more as well as an understanding of forensic science and criminal investigative techniques. Join me and let’s exp… read more

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Criminal Mischief: Episode #52: Forensic Science For Crime Writers: Autopsy

April 11th, 2023


An autopsy is a scientific procedure. Its purpose is to examine the corpse for evidence of the cause and manner of death. This is done through a …

50: Forensics For Crime Writers: Coroner

February 7th, 2023


This is a new series of podcasts that I’ve titled Forensics For Crime Writers. In it I will talk about various aspects of forensic science and how it might be used in crime fiction. The first episode deals with the …

Episode #49: Familial/Genealogical DNA

February 7th, 2023




CBS News (4-22-17):

Episode #48: Three Famous Toxicology Cases

October 26th, 2021


Poisons and drugs have been used as murder weapons for many centuries. Sometimes the poison itself does the killing and other times it simply …

Episode #47: Amnesia and Trauma

August 31st, 2021


Amnesia has been a part of fiction for many years. Jason Bourne in The Bourne Identity is a classic example. The character was apparently based on the real-life case of Ansel Bourne, who in 1887 was likely the first …

46: The Critical Opening Scene

August 3rd, 2021


Your opening scene carries a heavy load. It must hook the reader, introduce the story question—and often the protagonist/antagonist—-reveal the setting/story world, evoke emotion in the reader, and reveal the voice and …

Episode #43: Gunshot Wound Analysis

November 19th, 2020


In the criminal investigation or injuries or deaths from gunshot wounds (GWSs), the anatomy of the entry and exit wounds, particularly the former, …

Episode #42: Prior Bad Acts, An Author Reading

October 20th, 2020


“Prior bad acts predict future bad acts.”—Harper McCoy

Fear grips an isolated mountain town after drug dealer Dalton Southwell kills a rogue dealer …

Episode #41: Writing Great Thrillers

October 20th, 2020


My dear friend Gayle Lynds recently posted an excellent article on the Rogue Women Writers blog titled “10 Rules For Writing A Best-selling …

Episode #40:Nasty Deadly Poisons

October 20th, 2020


Crime writers love poisons. Even those who write the more cozy variety. I mean, arsenic and old lace? Arsenic, the queen of poisons, is often used as …

Criminal Mischief: Episode #39: Do Series Characters Change?

October 20th, 2020


Do Series Characters Change?

A better question might be: Should series characters change? Go through some upheaval that arcs their life into …

#38: PIs Make Great Characters

June 23rd, 2020


Cops are cool, and memorable fictional characters, but P.I.s seem to come in more variable and quirkier flavors. From ex-military types to everyday …

Episode #37: Who The Heck Is Jake Longly?

May 28th, 2020


Jake Longly is the protagonist of my series of comedic thrillers (DEEP SIX, A-LIST, SUNSHINE STATE, RIGGED).He’s an ex-professional baseball player. Pitcher for the Texas Rangers with an overpowering fastball. Until his …

36: Identifying Skeletal remains

May 6th, 2020


Identifying skeletal remains is no easy task for the ME and the forensic anthropologist.


35: Corpse ID

April 11th, 2020


Most corpses that are the victims of foul play are easily identified because they’re found in familiar places and reported by folks who knew them. …

34: Toxicology Part 3

March 17th, 2020


In the remote past, most poisoners favored botanical products such as hemlock, oleander, deadly nightshade, foxglove, hellebore, monkshood, opium, …

33: Forensic Toxicology Part 2

February 11th, 2020


The biggest problem facing the toxicologist is that there are literally thousands of drugs and chemicals that are harmful, addictive, or lethal if …


January 25th, 2020


This is the first in a 3-part series on Forensic Toxicology


31: Body Disposal Isn’t Easy

November 28th, 2019


Some criminals attempt to destroy corpses, the primary pieces of evidence in homicides. They think that if the police never find the body, they can’t …

30: Evidence

November 28th, 2019


If Locard’s Exchange Principle is the cornerstone of forensic science, evidence is the heart and soul of the crime lab. Indeed, evidence is the sole …


November 28th, 2019


SKIN IN THE GAME is the first story in my new Cain/Harper thriller series:

Raised as siblings by an itinerant “gypsy” family, knife expert Bobby Cain, trained by the US military in the lethal art of covert eliminations, …

28: The MacGuffin

November 28th, 2019


What is a MacGuffin? Since Alfred Hitchcock coined the term, his definition—such as it is—might be best:

“The main thing I’ve learned over the years is that the MacGuffin is nothing. I’m convinced of this, but I find it …

27: ABO Blood Typing

November 28th, 2019


By simply typing the blood at a crime scene, investigators narrow their suspect list and completely exonerate some suspects by using the population …

26: Storytelling In Dixie

November 28th, 2019


Here’s the thing about the South—if you can’t tell a story, they won’t feed you. They’ll simply deposit you behind the barn and let you wither away. That doesn’t happen often because everyone down there can spin a yarn. …

25: A Stroll Through Forensic Science History

November 28th, 2019


Let's take a stroll through the history of forensic science

24: Common Writing Mistakes

November 28th, 2019


Writers, particularly early in their careers, make mistakes. Often the same ones over and over. Here are a few pitfalls to avoid.

23: Apollo 11 & Me

November 28th, 2019


It’s hard to believe that it’s been 50 years. Exactly 50 years.

This show has nothing to do with crime writing or the science of crime. It is rather a step back in world history. And in my personal history. Yes, I was …

22: Common Medical Errors in Fiction

November 28th, 2019


Too often, fiction writers commit medical malpractice in their stories. Unfortunately, these mistakes can sink an otherwise well-written story.

21: Autopsy OF A Thriller: The Terminator

November 28th, 2019


THE TERMINATOR just might be the perfect thriller. Here it is dissected scene by scene to see why.

20: Elements Of A Thriller

November 28th, 2019


What elements make a great thriller? Let's explore them.


November 28th, 2019


From Publishers Weekly:

In Lyle’s ingenious third mystery featuring retired major league pitcher Jake Longly (after 2017’s A-List), Jake, who runs a …

18: Gunshot To The Chest

November 28th, 2019


Gunshot wounds (GSWs) come in many flavors and those to the chest can be particularly dicey. Yet, a chest GSW can be a minor flesh wound, a major …

17: DNA and Twins

November 28th, 2019


For years it was felt that the DNA of identical twins was indeed identical. Since they come from a single fertilized egg, this would seem intuitive. …

16: Arsenic: An Historical and Modern Poison

November 28th, 2019


Toxicology is a relatively new science that stands on the shoulders of its predecessors: anatomy, physiology, chemistry, and medicine. Our knowledge …

15: Introducing Characters

November 28th, 2019


You never get a second chance to make a first impression. The same is true for your fictional characters. So, make them vivid and memorial. How do you do this? There are many ways. Let’s explore a few of them.

14: Rules of Writing

November 28th, 2019


There are many "Rules" in writing. Fortunately, most are like STOP signs in Italy--merely suggestions.

13: Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

November 28th, 2019


One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small

And the ones that mother gives you, don't do anything at all

Go ask Alice, when she's ten feet tall

White Rabbit, The Jefferson Airplane

12: Fentanyl—A Most Dangerous Game

November 28th, 2019


Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is as much as 300 times more powerful than morphine sulfate. It can be injected, ingested, inhaled, and will even …

11: Civil War “Limb Pit” and the History of Infectious Diseases

November 28th, 2019


Here in the 21st century we know a great deal about infectious diseases. We can treat bacterial infections with antibiotics, immunize people against numerous diseases, understand how viruses work, and have a huge fund …

10: Rattlesnakes and Murder

November 28th, 2019


All sorts of weapons are used for committing murder. Guns, knives, poisons, explosives, ligatures, drownings, and gentle pushes off buildings or cliffs. Oh, don't forget rattlesnakes.

09: The Mysterious Human Brain

November 28th, 2019


The physical and psychological corners of the brain can malfunction and create an array of character problems

08: Mood and Tone in Crime Fiction

November 28th, 2019


Setting the mood and tone in crime fiction should be done up front.

The opening passages tell the reader the type of world they are entering and what …

07: Famous and Odd DNA Cases

November 28th, 2019


The history of forensic DNA analysis has involved some fascinating cases

06: Is It Harder To Write Crime Fiction Today?

November 28th, 2019


Do modern forensic science and police investigative techniques make creating compelling crime fiction more difficult? Are there simply too many balls …

05: Making Characters Compliant

November 28th, 2019


Bad guys, and girls, seem to always need some way to overpower or control another character. There are many ways to that.

01: Murder Motives

November 28th, 2019


Motives for Murder:

Financial – – insurance, inheritance, business takeovers, avoidance of alimony

Property disputes



Cults & …

02: Cause and Manner of Death

November 28th, 2019


MANNERS OF DEATH: For what purpose and by whose hand

NATURAL: Natural deaths are due to the workings of Mother Nature in that the death results from …

03: Time of Death

November 28th, 2019



Determining TOD is critical
Both an art and a science
The sooner after death the more accurate the estimate

04: POV in Crime Fiction

November 28th, 2019


Who is telling the story?
Is he/she also the protagonist or an observer?
Is he/she reliable?
How many POV characters is too few/too many?
Which characters know too little to drive the story/or know too much and might …

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