Tuesday, September 6, 2011






I am a very lucky guy.

For over twenty years, I've been able to pursue two careers that continue to excite me and reward me—putting villains in jail, and putting words on paper. As a detective with the Los Angeles Police Department specializing in sex crimes, I continue to chase bad guys and solve crimes. Under the cover of darkness, however, I slip into my writer's cloak and find cathartic release by telling stories in the form of novels, screenplays, and short stories for a (hopefully) growing audience.

Such a deal.

There is no doubt each profession feeds the other, occasionally colliding in a mix of coincidence no fiction reader would ever accept. The first time it happened, I was the investigating officer during the trial of a child molester. In court, potential jurors were being asked if they knew anybody connected with the case. A frail, older lady in the back of the jury box answered by stating, "Does it matter if I'm reading Detective Bishop's book?" With that, she reached into the stereotypical knitting bag at her feet, removed a copy of Citadel Run, and waved it over her head with a flourish. The defense attorney immediately removed her from the jury. Order was eventually restored and the trial proceeded. After the lunch recess, however, five other jurors and the judge returned to the courtroom with copies of the book and asked for signatures. The defendant didn't stand a chance.

On another occasion, my partner and I responded to a suspect's residence to arrest him for rape. It was early by dirtbag standards and we were forced to rouse the suspect from his slumbers. Wearing only a tattered robe over his birthday suit, the suspect failed to follow the rules (admit nothing, deny everything, demand proof) by helpfully acknowledging his guilt and effectively talking his way to jail.

Since he was cooperating, the suspect was given the chance to get dressed before being unceremoniously dragged off to his reservation at the Gray Bar Motel. This involved having the handcuffed suspect stand in the doorway to his bedroom while directing my partner to what clothing he wanted to wear. Attempting to retrieve a pair of grubby undershorts from the far side of the bed, my partner (a trained observer) noticed a paperback copy of my novel Kill Me Again splayed open on the nightstand. He held it up and showed it to me with an amused look on his face. We both knew it would be at least twelve years before the suspect had a chance to finish the final chapter.

How strange to be reading a book by an author at night, only to have him turn up to arrest you the following morning. How much stranger for the detective/author to attempt to get additional charges filed for cracking the book's spine. Some things deserve severe punishment.

As a detective, I often get calls from other writers looking to enhance their knowledge of police procedures. I experienced a twist on this scenario after reading The Devil's Waltz by bestselling author and child psychologist Jonathan Kellerman.

The morning after finishing the book, I began an investigation of a bizarre child abuse case. Fresh in my mind was Kellerman's detailed description of a rare disorder known as Munchausen by proxy (a parent who purposely and repeatedly injures or makes a child sick in order to get sympathy for themselves). In short order, I realized what I was up against and called Jonathan for an expert's confirmation. The collaboration led to the arrest and conviction of the suspect, and a new life for the victim. Satisfaction doesn't get much better.

In November of 1993,1 sold the second book in my Fey Croaker series, Twice Dead, based on a twenty-page outline. The storyline, which was set in the LAPD's West Los Angeles Division where I work, involved a series of murders possibly committed by a black ex-football player turned actor. I was halfway through writing the book when, on June 12,1994, the O. J. Simpson case exploded. Not only were the inner workings of the virtually unknown West Los Angeles Division suddenly thrust into the national consciousness, but the parallels between the two stories would make the book look like nothing more than a headline rip-off by the time it was published.

I scrambled to restructure the novel. The black ex-football player turned actor became an NBA star rookie, the victims male instead of female. As this was the second book in an ongoing series about a female homicide supervisor assigned to West Los Angeles Division, the background of the character had to stand.

Near the end of the book, a subplot involving audio tapes of my main character's psychiatric sessions being made public has a bearing on the outcome of the story. The day I turned the book into the editor, the controversy over the Mark Fuhrman tapes broke in the OJ Simpson case. As usual, fiction couldn't stay ahead of real life.

Inspiration also strikes at inconvenient times. During the LA riots in 1992, all detectives were back in uniform, working twelve-hour shifts, three to a patrol car. We spent our time confronting looters, facing down angry mobs, and racing up ladders behind firemen to protect them from snipers (as we had body armor and they didn't—a situation since rectified). I was in more physical confrontations in those five days of civilian rage than any other intense period during my career.

Four days into the debacle, I found myself in the passenger seat of the patrol car scribbling madly into my two-inch by three-inch officers' notebook. When my partners demanded to know what I was doing, I tried to explain I had to do a brain dump—get the images and impressions of the prior days onto paper—so I could continue to focus without fear of losing my writer's edge. They thought I was nuts, but by that time in my twin careers, writing had become a habit. Four days away from the word processor and I was going through withdrawals.

Even minor career crossovers can cause problems. In 1988, while assigned to a nationwide terrorist task force, I was interrogating a suspect with the assistance of a southern FBI agent. After the suspect had told a particularly bald lie (we knew he was lying because his lips were moving), the southern FBI agent moved in close and drawled, "Son, that hound just won't hunt. And if you don't tell me the truth you're gonna find yourself taking a dirt nap." What did he say? What a great couple of lines!

I knew I'd forget the verisimilitude of those statements if I waited any length of time before writing them down, but I had an obligation to concentrate on the interrogation—not on the perfect place to put the words. Thinking fast, I unobtrusively excused myself from the interview room and scribbled down the lines of dialogue on the back of a candy wrapper. I then returned to the continuing interrogation safe in the knowledge my two masters were being served.

And so we come to the stories in this collection. A couple are from the early days of my fiction career, when I struggled under the misconception that writing short stories was a good way to learn how to write a novel (in actuality the reverse is true). Most are from other points along the way, with the title novella written especially for this collection. Many, however, were conceived from an idea or a what if? generated by a scenario from my day job career crossover of the best kind.

As you read, remember truth is always stranger than fiction, and the realities learned on-the-job are the strangest truths of all. Enjoy.

Paul Bishop
North of LA


I’ve been a runner all my life, or at least as much of it as I can remember. At one point, I became obsessed with marathoning, putting in 120 mile weeks in preparation for qualifying for and then running the Boston Marathon for my 50th birthday. I still squeeze in five to eight miles a day, every day. A day without running and I get pretty prickly to be around. I’d always wanted to write a story around a runner, but it wasn’t until a real life incident involving an LAPD officer who went running in the Santa Monica Mountains and never returned that I found the heart of Running Wylde…



"Where are you, Dev?"

"Out here," Devlin Wylde called.

Following the sound of Her husband's voice, Hanna stepped into the enclosed patio at the back of their house. Beyond, their backyard swept through a natural meadow to the base of the Santa Monica foothills. Deer often grazed at the edges during twilight.

"Let's go," Hanna said. "Before the phone rings."

"Almost with you," Devlin said. He popped heel inserts into his Brooks, slipped the running shoes on and pulled the laces tight. "Any last minute glitches with the race preparations?"

"That’s an understatement. What was I thinking when I started this project? It was supposed to be a simple 10-K fun run to raise money for the cougar habitat, and it has turned into this monster with a life of its own." Hanna was wearing a brilliant white t-shirt with a stylized line drawing of a cougar on the front. The words 1st Annual Cougar Run were emblazoned on the back across a simple map of the Santa Monica mountains. Hanna worked the area as a park ranger. Below the t-shirt, she wore pink running shorts cut high on tanned, muscled legs. Her own running shoes were battered veterans of the trail. With short, chopped hair, she looked fast even standing still.

"I told you not to volunteer," Devlin chuckled. ignoring the gibe, Hanna stretched her thighs, alternately pulling each foot up behind her buttocks.

"Let’s run up Old Boney,” she said. “ I want to be sure the trail is clear. It shouldn't take over an hour."

"No problem," Devlin said. He bent slowly from the waist, placing his palms flat on the ground. He was lean and wiry, his legs sun-hardened, gnarled muscles. "But let's stretch it out, do ten or fifteen. I need to get some distance in."

As he stood up the phone rang. He looked at Hanna.

"Don't answer it," she said.

"I have too. I'm on-call."

"You're always on-call."

"It's a small unit."

"Let another homicide detective handle it."

Her words came too late. Devlin had already entered the small house and picked up the kitchen phone.

"Wylde." His voice moved an octave lower to its professional range. He listened. "Okay, I'm rolling." He checked his watch. "Forty-five minutes." He hung up.

"Hanna, honey, I'm sorry --" Stepping back into the enclosed patio, Devlin cut his apology short. Through the screens, he saw his wife sprinting away, her legs moving with the speed of anger.

With a rock in his heart, he stood watching as she disappeared into the mountains like Jonah down the whale's gullet.


MAY 30, 2008


SANTA MONICA (AP) -- After three months, the search for a missing woman has been called off by authorities. Hanna Wylde, 30, wife of Los Angeles Police Department homicide detective Devlin Wylde, disappeared February 18th in the Santa Monica Mountains Recreational Area while running. A park ranger, Ms. Wylde was training for an upcoming 10K race she had organized.

Extensive searches of the trails and surrounding regions did not recovered a single trace of the missing woman, and a police spokesman stated resources are currently being redirected to other pressing issues. A number of possible reasons behind the disappearance have been investigated, but have also met with negative results.

The 10K Cougar Run conceived and organized by Hanna Wylde was run on schedule earlier this month. Responsibility for the event, produced to raise funds to protect the local cougar habitat, was assumed by several of the Santa Monica Mountain park rangers with whom the missing woman worked. The event was staged as both a fund raiser and a way to keep the fate of Hanna Wylde at the forefront of public attention.

At this time, the missing woman is feared dead, however, foul play has not been indicated, but has not been ruled out . . .


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