I hope this don't irritate anyone, and I hope it's in the right forum. I'm not a police officer - I'm a writer currently working on a screenplay that involves a murder investigation. I've never written crime fiction before, and I could do with a hand creating a plausible murder investigation case. It needs to match my plot requirements while still being realistic. I've read the relevant parts (detaining and arresting suspects) of the Guide to UK Law, and a very useful account of a "typical" US murder investigation (http://www.essortmen...orks-15335.html). However, my story requirements mean I can get a lot more out of talking to people who can answer my questions specifically. I'd be really grateful to anyone who could help me out.
My story is set in a remote Orkney island (pop. 500) in the early 90s, which means some of what I've researched (modern UK law) might not necessarily fit; however, I'm OK with fudging some of the smaller technical details as long as the whole thing feels more or less realistic. I'm sure you real-life police people get fed up seeing policework constantly misrepresented on TV, so this is your chance to fix that. (Though it wouldn't surprise me if some other writers have been along before with their pens and pencils...)
What happens in my story:
A teenage couple make a suicide pact. The boyfriend shoots himself. The girlfriend is about to do the same, but realises at the last minute she can't do it and wants to live. Plagued by guilt, and feeling she should have stopped him - not to mention fearing assisted suicide charges - she decides to hide the incident. She destroys their suicide note and goes to the police saying she found his body. (Note: the method of suicide can change if helps the story.)
Although it looks like a suicide, the lack of suicide note is suspicious. The local police investigate and find the girlfriend's fingerprints on the gun. This is sufficient grounds to make her a murder suspect (as I understand it?) and they arrest her. At the same time, body is sent to the mainland to undergo an autopsy.
After a short time (a day or two? how long is realistic?), the police release the girlfriend due to lack of evidence. (This is my first hurdle: I need to structure the case in such a way that they have to release her without clearing her name. She's STILL a suspect and being investigated, just not in custody. It's important the character can roam around the island while the main investigation is going on.)
Because this is all happening on a tiny island with an inexperienced police force (how many people might this police force employ?), a detective is sent from the mainland to investigate the case. He is sent a week or two after the death - in fact, he arrives on the day of the funeral, by which time the autopsy has been completed and the body returned. (Is this timeline realistic?)
The detective talks extensively to the girlfriend and the friends of the dead boyfriend, and finally decides that the death was indeed a suicide (what might lead him to this decision?), but he never discovers that it was a suicide pact she backed out of. The detective leaves the island (how long might this investigation plausibly last? A timeframe of a few months is ideal, but is it realistic?) and the case is closed.
That's it, so far. Any help pointing out unrealistic elements or answers to the bolded questions would be highly appreciated. Thanks!
Edited by PrazzoT, 17 November 2011 - 01:56 AM.