The author characterizes this book as a reference book, “A Manual for Armchair Detectives,” and it is that, but it is much more. It’s also a fun, entertaining read. Williams is both a retired FBI Special Agent and a crime novelist. She understands the need to tell a good story or make a good movie and the resulting necessity of condensing, conflating, and exaggerating. She also shares a certain dismay with me and other FBI retirees over the gross inaccuracies that crop up in the entertainment world about the FBI. One of the reasons I wrote my crime novels was to correct some of those misconceptions, but I admit to falling prey to some of the same cliches and shortcuts that a good narrative requires.
What Williams has done that makes this book work so well is to include specific examples from the movies and television to illustrate her points. Then she shares the real life story as told by guests on her podcast, and lastly she provides a cracking good review of the show. She not only writes great reviews, and includes whether she enjoyed the movie, but then she applies her own rating scale as to how accurate it is. She throws her shoes at the worst offenders, so we hear a lot about her footwear. I got a kick out of that, no pun intended.
The bottom line is that she educates as what is false and what is true, but also refrains from criticizing or ranting. She’s not trying to spoil our fun. I do hope this book helps to prevent a few people from falling prey to the CSI effect.