I love private detective novels. But the biographies and autobiographies of real private detectives I find equally fascinating. I have a small collection of these books.
Finder: The True Story Of A Private Investigator is the autobiography of Marilyn Greene, co-authored with Gary Provost. In the book, Marilyn Greene relates her early interest in law enforcement and her disappointment at being turned down by the New York state police.
Sometime later she developed an interest in search and rescue and tells us how she became one of the best finders of missing persons using her air-scent trained dog. Because of limitations imposed on her work as a finder, due to her being a volunteer, she moved into licensed private investigator work.
We also get a glimpse into the personal cost of her pursuing her passion. The break up of her marriage and problems with one of her sons.
Marilyn Greene’s story generates anger at the bias and prejudice she faced being a woman in a field dominated by men, as well as heartache at what she had to go through to pursue her dream.
In one instance, she was asked by the State Police to look for a missing person. She found the body in a short period of time only to find out that the police only asked her to get the parents off their backs. She wasn’t supposed to find someone they couldn’t.
Another time she faced police hostility because her dog found the missing person, when the police dogs couldn’t.
Once, she was hired by the mother of a missing person. She discovered that the son’s best friend had killed the man because he was bullying him. It was a heartbreaking story of the victim suffering once again. This time in the legal system. Ms Greene’s point was that many real life stories do not have happy endings.
The book itself does not read like a thriller. In fact, it’s somewhat dry. Yet it’s packed with information telling us how a real private detective worked back before everyone had laptops and smart phones.
I recommend giving Finder a read. I read the book some 25 years ago researching what real PIs were like in preparation for writing my first mystery. For me, the book was fascinating and stayed with me all these years. Recently, I bought a copy and re-read it. It’s a satisfying, real life tale. Give it a read!
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