tv Book Discussion on A Good Month for Murder CSPAN September 3, 2016 9:15pm-10:01pm EDT
american presidential campaigns. and this weekend, georgetown university law professor, rosa brooks, describes the expand role of the u.s. military around the world. >> guest: one of the thing that blew my mind when i got to the pentagon -- you have spent longer in that world but eni got there i, like many americans, assume that essentially what the military does is prepare to fight wars in the traditional sense of blowing stuff up and shooting at people, and obviously the pentagon does do that but it was just amazing to me how much else people in the military now do, whether it's planning programs to prevent sexual violence in the congo, to programs to encourage microenterprises among afghan women or training judges or producing radio call-in shows. you name it. somebody at the pentagon was dog doing it. was half amazing and half
inspiring and half a little built scary. >> "after words" airs on booktv every saturday at 10:00 p.m. and sunday at 9:00 p.m. eastern. you can watch all previous "after words" program. s on our web sitement booktv.org. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> all right. are you ready for me to start? might as well. i'll talk for, like 20 minute order so and then maybe 25 minutes, take some questions. if you have any. i almost feel like shy interview you guys.
but so my name is del wilber, and i'm the author of "a good month for murder" and i've always been intrigue bid police work and homicide detectives and how they do their jobs. server interested in that all my life. my dad -- i grew up -- i read hardy boys mysteries growing up. stoled crime novelled from the dad. there would a time i thought i wanted to be a detective myself, or do work like that and can i changed course as i went how to high school and saud i want to be a writer but i've always been intrigued by crime and police work and how police do their jobs and mysteries, and so i kind of got into this. and i worked for the baltimore sun, covering the baltimore police department. in fact i had the job not long after david simon had the job. the guy who wrote "idaho had, live on the streets" and "the wire." so i was like i want to do something like he did. so i reached out to chief
mcgow, who is the son of a secret service agent in my first book; i said, chief, would you mind if i trailed your homicide squad around? i hear they're pretty good and very serious and they're a cass cast of characters. he said sure. and i only made one provision, i said like someone from the department to review the menu script before it's published to raise objections but only objections to information that might harm a witness, or endanger a prosecution. and that's what i was hoping to get out of it. and they did that and like the only thing they came up with that they didn't like -- a couple millionor things i was able to tweak, like there's some information they were worried might five a potential witness and they -- i got rid of that and got one detective's eye color wrong. he had green eyed. not hazel eyes. don't know the difference but
the did, and i was like, okay, make sure i get that right. and so i think pg county is a fascinating place and what great place to set a book. all these books are set in inner city, gritty, urban environments and pg county is this fascinating place that is to diverse, not just culturally, ethnically, racially, but landscape. one day i was at a homicide scene in farm country and then two weeks later two days later i was at a homicide scene in miami park, in like an illegal -- an apartment that was like an illegal brew house where they were giving away beer and everything. then -- [cell phone ringing] --
>> any editor is calling me. >> anyway so, the day after that i met an -- i'm in district heights, cappal heights. you can't tell the difference between the two neighbors across the d.c. line. the only way to tell is look at the street sign. does it have northwest or not? and what a great place to set a book. i come here and i don't know what the book i. i'm going thanking out with the homicide detectives and see what they're look like and how do they do their jobs and i spent six months, and i couldn't figure out what the story was. i was really struggling. had run out of money and i realized i love stories where you put -- you test characters under intense stress and circumstances and then see how
that reveals their character. so in my first book "rawhide down" i tell -- i wrote 80,000 words about one day in u.s. hoyt. i wrote about these men and women pushing their limits to save the life of the president of the united states. this book dish didn't have that over sick months -- i started looking and realized february, 2013, murders in 28 days and thrice police shootings and two of the final one remember the six high school students were killed that school year and the last two were killed in february 2013. i looked at that month and realized the first day of the month they interrogate a guy the think may have killed amber stanley. amber stanley is the gorgeous, smart, 17-year-old honor student who was probably destined to be a general set cyst or
something --en jet nickist put she cass killed in august display worked so hard and they finally get the guy and get him in the box, interrogate him and interrogate him all that day, like, february 1st. they don't break him. they spend he whole rest of the month, these detectives, trying to build a case against that guy, the final day of month, the dna comes back, not that main suspect. they have to get rid of him and the very next day they get a dna hit back to a serial rapist and has now pled guilty to two rapes. so they get him. and they interrogate him all day. but i'm not going reveal if you get the back to know what happens to him, but nevertheless, that is what happened at the end of the day. and within that month i had the murder of geraldine mcintyre, a 71-year-old lady-for he $40 television set. had the murder of 15-year-old charles walker, who was killed
for his tennis shoes he was carrying to his girlfriend. had the murder of a drug dealer, a rookie detective, edie flores, and he wants to solve and it edie flores -- you can come join us. fine, sir. >> no tough questions. >> none at all. >> and so that was -- that's why i focused on one month. they were exhausted. that month was exhausting for me personally, too not that my trials and transcribe layings are remotely as interesting as my character us but i fell asleep pumping gas. i fell asleep at the red light, which i shouldn't have been driving. was dead to the world. by the en -- my hand writhing is not great but by the end of the month i couldn't read a word i has written.
i was busted -- sleep deprived. the two difficultywash i love about the book were the characters, so i had a diet pill popping cheeseburger eaterrer, chain-smoking vegan, the female quarterback of semi prefootball team and dude bragged about the herbal erection rem advertise he was taking and those were the detectives. so those guys overwhelmed, helped overwhelm the narrative in some way. said i'm going to stay to to them as close as possible and write their story as good as i can. and that how the book started to come about how i got into it. what i really found interesting is the humanity i saw. i saw really beautiful moments. really horrible things. i think people don't understand in this -- there's no better time to write a book bat what it takes and why it maries to be a
homicide detective or a police officer than right now. i think right enough is a really important book to rite because people can read it and evaluate it on their terms as we having this big national debate about the proper way to police our communities and that's a really important debate to have from a lot of the things i saw. so i think the book will end up actually being a rorschach test for many people because i make very few opinions. i joint inject a lot of opinion or analysis into it. just write what i saw. love narrative storytelling where you're on the shoulder of your characters and some stuff you hear detectives were not happy made into a book. other things they were. they said you -- everything you wrote whereas true. one poweest posts of facebook, the book is pretty good, but everything happened. and that made my feel good. no one complained to me after and said, well, that not what happened, or i didn't say that, or i didn't fall asleep in the
interrogation room with you while is was interrogating someone, which mike did. he actually fell asleep why was in there interviewing somebody. and people won't understand why that happens until you live it. so i think it's a good become that is inform tim for people right now -- informative for people huge you and why i really wanted to write the story. and the job, let me tell you, is really hard. this job is hard. it wears down your soul. and i don't want to get too depressing about it but a lot of police officer polices will undd this. they deal with the worth 10 parts of the worst 10%. the guys debt with the worst 10% of the worst 10% of the worst 10. people who kill people are not pleasant people. there's a lot of talk about -- i never saw them break the law, never saw them bend rules, never
saw them -- nothing that would remotely count as that under current case law or whatever, because you can use deceit and trickery and they used a lot of that to get confessions or try get confessions. just remember how hard the job was, going out with them on death investigations. someone just died. they're dead in front of you and they're talking about business over the corpse, and then i saw more than 25 bodies, i believe in my six months, maybe a few more. i stopped counting at that point. i slipped on brain matter. ruined a pair of boots in a pile of blood. this must happen to. the all the time and they're kind of disconnect. ed from it. i remember they all dealt with it in their own way. a lot of gallows hum your but they're some of the funniest pipe i met it but you have to be intine with their politically
incorrect -- glueing a bumper sticker on your partner's wifes card to say i love to masturbate. i understand after having -- i understood why after you're 11th body in 48 hours wife the medical examiners investigator is joke about sex acts next to a heroin overdose victim. it made perfect sense and i hope the reader understands that insight and not that anyone was callous or didn't care about these poor people. absorbing is over and over against is difficult. what i found interesting was that the worst thing wasn't the corpses or the bodies. for me the worsted thing was the guy nico mayhew was killed and he is a witness. and solving the murder of a witness is like the hardest case to solve because who wants to be a witness to the murder of a witness.
so mike, many people in pd county know, was trying to solve a murder, and i went to the scene, and the mother was there, her son is shot dead, outside her apartment door, he had this two-year-old son with him and when i got the seen there's a pud of blood. to the body is still there and there's a little juice box in the blood. the above had been grazed by the bullet and i couldn't stop staring tet juice box and we get net but but she was trying to get out of the of the house but she couldn't because her son was blocking the doorway. the mother was like looking at her son and talking about it. he said, like -- he was a rookie, three our four homicides under is held. said i should have gotten her out of the house but the didn't think to do that.
i had permission from the mom to be there. i asked her if i could be there. you can't trespass as a reporter or journalist and book author. and so we good back to the office and that's bad. the brains, it's awful. fat. you get back and like the next day he gets the security video, and it shows two guys -- like him get -- mayhew and his son getting out of his car and walking to his apartment, and the mom's apartment. and he disappears as he is walking walking into, the two guys run after him and chase him up into the vestibule and two second late are they run out, and mike is the kind of guy that -- he is the kind of gave that clicks the mouse 300 times and then the computer freezes. and so of course he is going to want to watch this 100 times and i'm there i had to watch the video must have been three or four dozen times and by the end of it, i was watching this video and i was almost screaming for nico to get out of the way.
run, i wanted him to leave. i still dream about that. know the detectives have this distance. and they have this tough exterior but i've seen it break down. i've seen them, like, kind of lose it. in their own way. billy watt, very decide indicated detective. hyperactive. high blood pressure. the kind of guy whose leg jack hammers under the desk, and he double homicide, two 18-year-olds killed. at the hospital. one is dead on the gurney already. the other is dying. the alarms are going off and his stuff is oozing out of his head and heat not going to make. watt is all business. sir, can i get the code for his phone? he has to solve the case. on death notifications learned when you drop a death notificationous don't just go
make it. she is really upset, crying, my baby, i checked the text messages like that and that's how i knew the job was. they're not train today love people. their job is to solve the murder. they can't leave but they don't want to be hard of that horrible experience so they're on their phone. that's a telling detail how people do their jobs in tough circumstances. now detective billy watts was on and i saw him lose it. the 4-year-old was dead and 8-year-old was dead, their sisters under a gurney. he went home early, ben brown
let him two early to get some rest, ma'am, i'm sorry, we had four people die in this fire, you have to come in. they get to the scene and the medical examiner person is there and pulls back the sheets and the room is saturated with smoke. their bodies saturated with motor smoke and billy sat there and bothered him particularly, seemed so awful. no one did it on purpose, this was a big thing. he took his notes and talked to the grandmother and i could tell it bothered. all right, i have to go. and the father had died trying to save the two kids. broke win and cut artery and they screwed up -- not police
but everyone can be in public service, they don't know the date of birthday and plugged one for the computer for the dead father at the hospital and they don't have the right dead of birth they can't sent him with right name and billy doesn't want him to go at john doe, he goes back to the car, get the photo mva. he gets in the car. he sits in the car and leans back in his chair. he's like that. speed dial. hey, dad, how is it going. he called your son. i can puttys tans between hock
-- homicide-related drugs but my kids can die in a wild fire. like i said, i watched good police work. if anyone here is an author they'll understand, by choosing characters, they chose you to and i had 25 to choose from. i watched a lot of good police work. i watched them hard to figure out amber case. eddy flores, i watched him solve a murder of a drug dealer. no vigil for adams. he was killed without any id on them. might as well be part of bones. he worked hard to solve it. everybody has a different
motivation, you know. andray brooks, i can't say the exact quote he used because book tv is here but every other word was crack head, was killed by a heroin addict who stole the tv. he was so angry about it. it meant nothing. he just wanted to solve the case . their humor we talk about some was fun. they all came across caring, smart, decent people.
>> i usually let people ask questions. these guys are talking about -- all right. that actually happened. i'm going to read you that section because i want to leave everyone in an up note that this is what it's really like. do you ever disabuse yourself and i think there's police in the audience, it's not like the tv shows like csi, i can't think
of a tv, maybe the wire, but maybe. that's what our experience with police and crime and books, but but i just found this particularly funny moment where guys were picking on their feet and it's real and really happened and it was, you know, it have just interesting to me. sawn deer is pressing his brother and rest his head against the wall, his eyes closed, spring open, closed again and finally stay shut. he snorts and begins to snore. the brothers are in the middle of explaining that he hasn't seen buck for months and he turns to deer, detectives always watch a nap in the box. that's what they call thing the
interrogation the box. he was snoring pretty loud, let me tell you. no fights the witness said, in the last few months? no. he also asked whether he heard about the rain of denise or anything about everybodier stanley's mother. the brother shakes his head. he glances whose oversized head is 4-inches down the wall. so he is breathing deeply and bople head is pressing awkwardly against and shaking his head blames wildly, what did i mis, was i really asleep. he actually did those dislocated his thumb, i believe.
the witness said perplexed. like i said through facebook. facebook, he repeats trying to think of something to say. watching scramble is too enjoyable. he checks his nose but sees nothing that might get him back on track. might as well have fun. what is this facebook, emphasizing the word if unknown criminal enterprise. the brother rubs his hands in his slap. social networking. ceo says nothing, deer says nothing, they stair at the witness unshifting uncomfortably in the chair. i know that, i check my watch so you read books on it? no. oh. you keep in touch with people, the man says. like e-mail, i get it. no. like text messaging says deer.
no facebook, it's facebook, it's social. how do you know what these people -- how do you know what these people are talking about on these facebook, asked deer. the man drops his head into his hands. he eventually gave up his dna. probably i can't be in this room with these people anymore. anyway, if you have any questions, i'm happy to take them. this is a famous author. >> thank you. how much being around these detectives, how long was it before they started ignoring your presentation or how much did their actions change because you were there and then second part of that, how much have you changed having been around them? >> all right. so those -- the first one i think maybe after a month or two they forgot i was there. i heard a lot of stuff that had nothing to do with what i was writing about that you wouldn't mention in front of a reporter if you were start. i read -- you read the book,
someone here said they read it. there's not a lot of nonsense going on. it was pretty clear that i was honest, what you say as going in, if you get me suit for liable. i know, it's kind of silly, and then it changed me greatly, like it gave me. after i was done that it gave me tough time putting the book together, i think it was because like trying to render these characters in full environment, trying not to be absorbed by the evil in it, like i dedicated the book not to these particular detectives but the men and women who are in darkness so that we don't have to, i'm not a school teacher, i'm not any of those
things. i'm a reporter. i spent all day in a briefing with james comey today, the fbi director and wrote a story. i have a really greet appreciation how rough life can really be and i will be honest, i get annoyed sometimes when you'll be like a thing and hear people talking about urban and suburban america and they talk and in this kind of condescending way. i can't handle you anymore. just one month. i did it for six, do it for a month and when you come out you come out a different person. did that answer? >> quick question, actually a comment before the question. >> sure. >> i retired from pg county police. i spent five years in homicide and you mentioned the book
homicide by david sigh month and i remember that book came out, we use that had book in the homicide unit as a bible, something that we could learn from, that was in '90 or '95. i wanted to thank you for writing the book because this is the real deal. i mean, from what i read so far, i read a quarter of it so far, it's truly as you said, it's to the point and it's a true story. i didn't see anything there so far that was made up. i can tell that that's the real deal, the language that they use, the way the mannerisms, everything. congratulations on that. >> thank you very much. >> so the question -- >> that means a lot. thank you very much. >> as homicide by david seemon went onto become a tv series, do you envision something like that for your book? >> so some friends and i were
e-mailing back and forth 14 to 15 things you cannot ask an author. never ask when is it going to be a tv show because all it's going to do is make the author really depressed. [laughter] >> there's so many things. i don't know. i don't know. i think that it would be great if there was one but i can want -- i don't know. it's really hard. >> and the reason i ask that is because, you know, in some that i've known about the unit, i spent 27 years, this is the first time we've had a book written by, you know, about a unit within the department like this and, you know, for years i've thought about writing something and telling the story because as you started out in the book, it's in here and you
talk about prince george's county and the diversity. yeah, you're right. you can be down and it's a completely different environment where districts heights are or bowie and it's a beautiful story. so, again, thank you for writing the book and it tells the story of not only the unit but a little bit about prince george's county. >> i say pg and i know officials in pg who don't like pg, so -- >> you're right. >> be careful to use pg county because they really don't like it. i yet to meet a single resident. it's not derogatory. it's just shorter. i don't say the district of colombia, i say dc and you don't people at dc getting about it and i do know i'm going to take some heat. [laughter]
>> he's a count executive on book tv. urging national boycott on my book which will give me more press but he can do that if he wants but he probably won't. >> how are you? >> this is cynthia, you want to come up here for a second. >> well, i'm on lunch, so no. [laughter] >> okay. sorry. >> cynthia is the mother of nick, the detective that went -- thanks for coming. >> you spent six months with the unit, how long did it take -- how long in that process did it take you to figure out who those characters were going to be. how long did it take you in the six months to figure out who your main characters were going to be? >> i did this completely
opposite. i spent six months. followed two units in particular going forward the year. no, no, we are not giving you anymore more, man, i have nothing. i was talking to a guy at the washington post. how do i wrestle and get around this issue, how many notebooks do you have, 150 filled notebooks. you have a notebook and go back. i wrote down everything. anyway, and so i went back on february, oh, my gosh. when i started thinking about it, a lot of people like the title of the book and some people haven't. i like it because it came from an actual genuine moment in the book. it's december and there's been like five murderers in december and i'm struggling, like, i'm not having a great case, i
wanted a really great case to follow, not in the sense that -- i just want a compelling difficult case for them to try to solve and billy is kind of a hard-living funny guy, you know, billy rail and he's a liewnt in the squad and knows everything about everything, the homicide gods and talk to him in sleep. billy rail, what am i going to do. my hope that there's an interesting case that comes along, how do you do this? he said, we'll catch a few more this month. he didn't actually tell me this, other guys -- he was talking to other guys. february watch out, be ready for february, it'll be a great month for murderer.
i said why, there's a lot of pent-up anker on the streets. oh, my gosh, i had all of this stuff and i had to go through as an author will appreciate 120,000 words and i had to cut 40,000 words for the book to make sense and you would be oh, my god, this is a bad metaphor for the setting so please forgive, you have to kill babies, killing your babies, because you love the characters and scene and whack, whack, whack, gone. one afternoon, three hours, 40,000 words. that took me four months to do. the book made a lot more sense to me and i can play more with the characters and i could emphasize certain characters. i could load on that in some ways, that character. mike crowe, i got to start the book with him, driving around trying to get this guy only to have sean get him.
billy watts and andray. and mike, he's a little nutty, executes his own dog because he broke his back and stuff. he's a kind of guy that admits that he went skinny dipping, naked, got stung from a jelly fish where he shouldn't have been sunk. no filter. i had so keep some of that out. no, that's half. [laughter] [inaudible] >> if you go to my facebook page, i have been posting some pictures so you can see them. i took some photos for note-taking purposes.
if i wanted to describe -- i don't want you to have to -- what i would love for it to happen is for you to read the book and have a sense of what mike crowe is like and nailed him, and then someone sees a photo of him and says, oh, my gosh, that's him or maybe you see that it becomes a tv show that we will not talk about that, though. anyway, that's not him. that's not who i envision. as i put that in your head. in my first book i had photos. i could always describe, almost find a photo to describe how something looked like. i don't know how people like jesse write like history, jesse has written two books, one about how the sleighs lived in the white house called the invisibles and he wrote another book about how slaves built the
u.s. capitol and filled with rich language and encourage everyone to get it. that's hard. and you're relying on newspapers clippings, was he short, was he tall, was he bald, you don't know, i got lucky that way. because the pictures i took were for note-taking and helping me purposes, i'm not a professional photographer. i think you probably get that so my pictures were not awesome. i posted some. i posted a few and i am going to keep posting but some of them you're going to find boring and on twitter delwilber at twitter. any other questions? sure. >> i have a question. >> yes.
>> so i came in and i was expecting to have all the homicide cases in the chapter and i was talking to these ladies and i was saying, wait a minute, it's not like traditionally you have a case and you talk about a case and you talk about the case and i was going to read about the case, i wanted to read and that was going to be it and i wasn't going to read the rest of the book. [laughter] >> so you must have known that people had their mind set because she explained to me that you talked about all the cases on all the different throughout, so you have to read the whole book to get everything. so you intertwine all the cases in the book? >> that's the way it really is. there were so much that it became overwhelming and i had to pull stuff out. i mean, you're sitting -- i wasn't there for everything in the book obviously. you can't be at all 12 murderers but i was there all of the time. i was following mike crowe and
sean deer. a detective mike could not figure it out but he has gotten a tip, a really good tip. he doesn't know what to do, he forgets about it and scattered. they spent the previous day at a murder-suicide in college park, you may remember when the guy killed the student and killed himself and shot the other guy and it was awful. that took -- the guy with backpack. that was at 2:00 in the morning. they were pretty tired but he still has to solve the case and if he doesn't solve it they can't use grand jury testimony in the trial of his own nephew who was accused of killing him, thought killed him. niko is a witness in a double hock side in which his own nephew is charged. niko's murder. but his grand jury testimony is pretty damming for the nephew. if mike can link the nephew to the murder of niko can get the
grand jury testimony out. so the clock is ticking. he has to solve the case and now jeremy, encyclopedia and he bumps to him at a crime scene and says can you come to my desk and watch the security video to see if you recognize any of the guys in there and maybe the one bad actor, comes over and watches it, don't recognize anyone. mike, sorry. play it again. don't recognize. i'm watching it but focusing on another thing that's happening so my eye is there, i'm listening. this is kind of interesting but my mind is focused on what mike crow and sean deer are nothing. i have bit, he used bad language, i tried very hard and doesn't make any sense.
i don't know. are you dumb? stanley got locked up for carjacking. hooks up the fbi, gets somehow they get the phone off the carjackers. the jail calls from the jail to the carjacker. they cull the tapes and listen to them and it's the nephew orchestrating the murder. you need three things, dogginess, creativity and luck, you don't get luck without the first two. you don't solve many case ifs you're dogging. you're pretty good at putting report together and knocking on doors, if you're creative you're not going to get it either because you have to knock on the doors to get the luck. people don't appreciate that. solving it in 60 minutes or
something, but i don't know where we started. we started about how the book was organized. [laughter] >> and because that's the way it happened to me i couldn't tell it like chapter by chapter and everything is overlapping and swimming and one day a detective is working on this, not just my case, i will help you on your case and then they are there. it made it very hard for me, this is so cool. is that cooler? i felt like a guy at the party with the date who was not super pretty, that girl is prettier, that girl is prettier. cutmae hat, but yeah. [laughter] is that it? i'm happy to sign books but if anyone has another question, i'm happy to answer. >> he asked my question. >> likely excused. thanks for coming. i really appreciate it. [applause]