Everything Has Got a Little Price*

Confessions of a Mystery Novelist...

Witnesses and suspects don’t always want to give police information they may have. There are many reasons for that – more than there is space for in this one post. So, I’ll just focus on one: a witness or suspect may want to get something out of any agreement to give information. In other words, information is a commodity to be traded.

Detectives (well, at least fictional ones) make all sorts of arrangements with sources of information. Some are formal, as in cases where a suspect makes a plea bargain to give information in order to get a reduced sentence. A lot, though, are less formal (e.g. ‘You know, I’d really love a beer right about now.’) And we see them all through crime fiction.

For instance, in Agatha Christie’s Dead Man’s Folly, Hercule Poirot investigates the murder of fourteen-year-old Marlene Tucker. On the surface of it, there seems…

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