tv Book Discussion on A Good Month for Murder CSPAN September 5, 2016 10:15am-11:01am EDT
the tokens represent, if you remember lou for those who believe that the oceania officials should be held liable for their actions against with an infinite and that they should not be held liable. [applause] >> this concludes wednesday in the oceania presented by their shakespeare bar association. enjoy the rest of your evening. [applause]
my name is del wilber. i'm the author of "a good month for murder." i've always been intrigued by police and homicide detectives and how they do their jobs. with my data, i grew up reading hardy boys mysteries growing up. i still crime novels from baghdad. there was a time i thought it wanted to be a detective myself or do work like that. and i changed course as they went through high school and said i want to be a writer. i've always been intrigued by crime and curly spurt and how they do their jobs in mysteries. i've gotten into this kind of work and i worked for the "baltimore sun," covering the baltimore police department. i have a job not long after david simon had the job. he's the guy who wrote homicide, life on the street and the wire. i want to do something like he
did. and so he reached out to the son of a secret service agent of my first book. would you mind if i trailed your homicide squad around russia and the there pretty good at what they do. he is like, sure. i only made one provision, i sat back someone from the department to review the manuscript before it's published to raise objections, but only objections to information that might harm a witness are in danger of prosecution. that is what i was hoping to get out of bed. the only thing that came up with that they didn't like was the couple minor things like some information that might identify a potential witness which is why i is why i have them do this. i got rid of that and i got one detectives eye color well. i think green eyes, not hazel
eyes. i said there seems to be a difference. and so i think pg county is a fascinating place. what a great place to set the book. they are set in the inner city. gritty, urban environments. pg county is literally this fascinating place that is so diverse that just culturally, ethnically, racially, but landscape. one day i was at a homicide scene in farm country in two weeks later -- two days later i was at a homicide scene in bradley park in like an illegal apartment that was like an illegal brewhouse where they were giving away here in everything. and then -- my editor is calling
me. today i covered a bunch of stories and i'm a reporter at "the l.a. times" now. today i was covering the mass shooting in florida. i'm a little frazzled, that might be why. the day after that i met in district heights, in capitol heights. you can tell a difference in those neighborhoods across the d.c. line. if you look at the street sign they had northwestern or not. i loved that. what a great place to set up a good add-on know what the book is. i'm going to hang out and see if they investigate cases and how to homicide detectives do their jobs today. as i did that i spent six months and i couldn't figure out what the story was. i was really struggling. i ran out of money for my publisher and then i realized i love stories where you test characters under intense stress and circumstances and then see
how that reveals their character. in my first book, i wrote 80,000 words about one day in u.s. history. i wrote 3000 words in about three minutes about these men and women pushed it on the period this book i didn't really have that over six months. i started looking at my last february 2013, some of your police officers. we had 12 murders and 28 days, three police shooting and that is when you also had two of the final six high school students were killed at school year and the last two were killed in february 2013. i looked at my relays the first day of the month they interrogated either they think may have killed amber stanley. amber stanley as this gorgeous, smart 17-year-old honor student who was probably destined to be
a geneticist or send them. she was dutiful, too. she was a model and she was killed in august it they finally get the guy they think may have done it and they get them in the box. they interrogate him all that day like february 1st, but they don't break them. they spend the whole rest of the month trying to build a case against that guy. the final days of the month the dna comes back not to the main suspect. they have to get rid of him. the very next day they get dna to a serial. they get him. and they interrogate him all day. i'm not going to reveal. you have to get the book to know what happens to him. nevertheless, that's it happens at the end of the day. i had geraldine mcintyre, partially paralyzed for $40 television set.
i had the murder of charles walker who was killed first 10 issues he was carried to his girlfriend. the murder of eight drug dealer, eddie flores, eyes as big because he wants to solve this so that. you can come join us. fine, sir. no tough questions. that's why focus on one month than i thought what a great month. they were dead. that month was exhausting for me personally. not that night trial center positions or is remotely as important as my characters. i pumped gas, fell asleep at a red light. i was dead to the world. my handwriting is not great anyway, but by the end of the month i couldn't read a word
i've written. i'm looking back a month later: what did i write? it was hilarious. what i really loved about this book or the characters. so i had a diet pill popping cheeseburger, a chain-smoking beacon, the female quarterback of a semi pro football team and a dude who bragged about the herbal remedies he was taking. and those were the detectives. so those guys overwhelmed -- helped overwhelmed the narrative. i thought i'm going to stay as close to them as possible in right their story as good as i can. and so that is how the book started to come about and how i got into it. what i really found interesting was the humanity i saw. i find really beautiful moments, really horrible things. people don't understand. there's no better time to write
a book about what it takes and why it matters to be a homicide detective or police officer than bright out. right now it's an important book to read because people can read and evaluate on their own terms as they had this big national debate about the proper way to police their communities. that's a really important debate to have frankly from a lot of things i saw. i think the booklet and i've been in were shut test for many people because i make very few opinions. i don't object to that opinion or analysis into it. i write what i saw. you are on the shoulder of your characters as they go through things. some of this at the detectives are not particularly happy made it into the boat. other things they were. everything he wrote was true. he was like well, the book is pretty good or something like that. but everything happening. that made me feel good. there is no one complaining to
me after insane that's not what happened or i didn't fall asleep in the interrogation room at the lab is interrogating someone. they actually fell asleep and i was in there with an interview in somebody. people won't understand why that happened so i think it's a good book that is informative for people right now. that is what i really wanted to write that story. and the job, let me tell you, it's really hard to get this job is hard. it wears down your soul. i don't want to get too depressing about it but a lot of police officers will understand it because they deal with the worst 10% of the worst 10%. and these guys out what the worst 10% of the worst 10% of the worst 10%. these guys who kill people are not pleasant people. there's a lot of talk about i never saw them break the law.
i never saw them bend rules. nothing that would remotely count as that under current case law or whatever because you can use d.c. and trickery in the used a lot of that to get confessions or try to get confessions. register member how hard the job was. going out on death investigations. someone had died and they are dead front of you and they're talking about business over this corpse. and you know, i saw, you know, i saw more than 25 hotties in my six months, maybe a few more. i stopped counting at that point. i flipped on brain matter. i ruined a pair of boots in a puddle of blood. this must happen to them all the time. they're kind of disconnected from it. there is a lot of gallows humor. these are some of the funniest people i've ever met. you have to kind of be in tune to the non-politically correct sense of humor.
the idea that superglue in a bumper sticker and your partner's wife's car that says i love to is funny. but you have to be in the right mindset to find that funny. i was because i was with them. maybe it's called stockholm syndrome. i understood after having god through it all appeared where the dead body of 48 hours by the medical examiner's joking about sex acts next to a heroin overdose. it made perfect sense to me at that time. not that anyone was callous or didn't care about these poor people because trust me absorbing it over and over again is very difficult. what i found most interesting is the worst thing was that the corpses were the bodies. for me, the worst thing was this guy niko killed and he is a witness. either way, solving the murder of a witness is the hardest case to solve because who wants to be
a witness to the witness of her murder. so he is trying to solve this murder. i went to the scene and the mother was there. her son is shot dead outside her apartment door. he had his 2-year-old son within that when he got to the scene there was a puddle of blood, the body was still dared and there is a juice box in the blood. the boy had been graced by the bullet. he was signed. i couldn't up staring at the juice box. we get inside and asked a question about what she couldn't get out of the house because her son was locking the door way. so he spent the next two hours interviewing the mother in talking to the mother and dealing with the crime scene. the mother was like looking at her son talking about it. he had only been doing the job a year, so are the lake three or four homicides under a spell. i probably should've gotten her
out of the house and done it somewhere else, but he did and to do that. i had permission from the mom to be there. you can't trespass as a reporter or a journalist, author. so we go back to the office. i was pretty bad. it was awful, sad. we get back in the next day he gives the security video and it shows him and he said getting out of the car and walking to his apartment and he disappears. as he is walking, these two guys ran after him and chase him up into the vestibule. two seconds later they run out. the kind of guy that clicks the mouse 300 times then suddenly the computer freezes. he's that kind of guy. ..
he just saw the police, right? on death notifications i learned that when you drop a death notification you don't just tell the person. a calm your son died, i'm sorry. you ask them 10 minutes of questions first. where was your last son your son seen. what did he do, who is he with? >> why are you asking me all this? do you know the code to his phone? all these questions. only then do they tell them their relative is dead because they will be incoherent and get no information. i was at one early on, a recording process and it didn't make the book area they tell this woman and she knew who i was down in austin hill, i believe. and they tell her her son was dead, he was a drug dealer. he had been shot in his car. great piece of detective work that didn't make it in the book. and she, they do all this but
she's getting upset and they tell her ma'am, i'm sorry, your son was shot. he didn't make it. she was really upset, obviously. crying and all this stuff but the detectives allowed the phone. that's when i knew how hard the job was. they're not trained to engage or give hugs or love. their job is to solve the murder. they don't want to be part, they can't leave. but they don't want to be part of that horrible experience. they can't absorb all that grief all the time because they are on their phone. they'll do their jobs in tough circumstances. now this detective bill watts on that death notification on the phone, i saw him lose it in a way, his own way.
the fatal fire, they do fatal fires too. for members of the family died. we're in the exam room where a four-year-old is dead and an eight-year-old girl, his sister is dead under a gurney. we go in and check it out. billy is now working in a week into the night, has a cold, hasn't slept more than a couple of hours. then the brown, his partner partner did get rest and woke him up two hours later to say ma'am, i'm sorry your son has died. they get to the scene.and do the work at the scene and billy goes to the hospital and the medical examiner is there. pulls back the sheets covering the body, the whole room is saturated in smoke. their bodies were so saturated in smoke that the whole room smelled like a campfire. and billy is sitting there and i could tell this bothered him, particularly when it didn't have a kid sized name tag for the four-year-old, it was a big sized name tag, it was awful. no one did it on purpose,
it was just this big thing. he went and took his notes, talk to the grandmother and says i've got to go. the father had died trying to save the kids, he bled out, broke a window and cut an artery. they screwed up at health, hospitals, not the police but everyone can't be in public service. they don't know the date of birth, they plug on randomly in the computer. because they don't have the right date of birth they can't send him with his name to the medical examiner, they sent him as a john doe really doesn't want him to go as john doe because he saved this kid's life. he goes back to the office to get the photo to properly identify the guy, get the record set straight so that i can go to the hospital as who he really was, his real name. and he gets in the car, we walked, we trudged out. he leans backin his chair . just, like that. pulls out his phone, hits speed dial. a dad, how's it going. i asked him, he said i can put distance between the double homicide related to drugs or the robbery or something.
my kids could die of a fire. the, like i said, so i watched a lot of good police work and i was fortunate, if anyone here is an author, they'll understand that you choose your characters, they kind of choose you too and you get to, i had 25 to choose from so i chose the ones i wanted to write about the most and i watched a lot of good police work. i watched them work really hard to figure out how to solve the case which was this tragically awful murder. that was really powerful to see. eddie florez, watch him try to serve the murder of a drug dealer. no one cares. he's not even local. there are going to be no vigils for celine adams. he's killed without an id on him and he's skipping over
bodies, might as well be a pile of bones. work hard to solve it, he every everyone wants to solve their first murder. andre brooks . i can't say the exact quote to use because book tv is here but every other word was expletive crackhead. that squirrel john mcintyre was killed by a handyman heroin addict who stole her tv, that's when he suspected read every other way he was so angry about it, he said why would he want to kill this innocent lady? it's not worth it. human life meant nothing,he just wanted to solve the case . so their human, we talked about it some and it was fun. the characters and the detectives all came across as very caring, smart, decent people. especially the ones i decided to write about. i don't usually read my own
book. i usually let people ask questions but there was one particular funny scene in the book where these guys are talking about facebook and i've got to remember ... let's see. all right. remember i was telling you early about how a detective fell asleep in an interrogation? that happened. i'm going to read that section because i want to leave everyone in an up note. you've got to disabuse yourself, i think there's police and the audience so you know it's not like the tv shows. it's not like csi.
i can't think of a tv show, maybe the wire is as close as it gets but not really. you can encapsulate the realityparticularly well in television but that's whatever experience is with police now . but i just found this particularly funny moment where you guys thinking on his feet and it's real and it really happened and it's just interesting to me. sean dear is pressing the brother about jeff buck and his crew. his eyes grow heavy and he gently rests his head against the wall. his eyes closed, spring open, close again and finally stacia. he snorts and begins to snore. the brother is in the middle of explaining that he hasn't seen bob for months when he pauses and looks over at the slumbering investigator. then he turns to dear shrubs as if to say a detective always catches a nap in the
box. that's what they call an interrogation room, a box refusing to be distracted by the snoring , he is snoring pretty loud, let me tell you. no fight, the witness says. last few months. >> market no. he asked if he seen jeff buck with a gun or whether he's heard about the rape of denise or anything about and lee's murder. the brother shakes his head. dear glances at kroll's oversize head is 54 inches down the law and is for all on his hand. a lot of bubblegum on his lower lip. his bobble head like cranium is pressing awkwardly against his thumb. kroll at least snapped awake. he blinks wildly thinking what did i miss? was he really asleep? hechecks dear . a blank eating grin behind his notepad. kroll furiously flips his ballpoint pen trying to clear his foggy mind. christ, my thumb hurts, is it
dislocated? >> he did dislocated his thumb i think. he opens his eyes as white as he can. how did you ask your girlfriend? >> the witness seems perplexed. >> i just said, facebook. trying to think of something to say, the iti dear but the investigator offers no help. watching kroll travel is too enjoyable. kroll furloughs his brow, checks his notes and sees nothing that might get him back on track. might as well have some fun. what is this a spoke he deadpanned, emphasizing this word as if a heretofore unknown criminal enterprise. the brother rubs his hands on his lap. it is social networking. dear says nothing. the witness now shifting uncomfortably in his chair. 10 seconds passes in utter silence, i know because i checked my watch. you read books on it?number
do keep in touch with people, the man says? >> like email kroll says, i get it. >> no.>> like text messaging. >> know, it's facebook. it's facebook, it's social. how do you know what these people are talking about on this facebook asks dear. the man sized and drops his head into his hands. he eventually gave up. probably because he's like i can't be in this room with these people anymore. if you have questions i am happy to take them. yes, i think this is a jesse holland, famous author from the town. >> thank you. how much being around these pictures, how long was it before they started ignoring your presence or how much did their actions change because you were there and second part of that is, how much you changed having been around them? >> 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 reporters if you were smart and you read the book, someone here said they read it. there's not a lot of censoring going on so it's pretty clear that i was very honest. what you say going in, you could be sued for libel. that was my rule. and it changed me greatly. after i was done with it, i had a really hard time trying to put together, wentthrough a rough stretch their . i think it was because trying to render these characters in their full environment while trying not to be absorbed by the people in it.i dedicated the book not to these particular detectives but the men and women toil in the heart of darkness so we don't have to. i'm not a cop. i'm not a soldier. i'm not a firefighter.
i'm not a schoolteacher. some schoolteacher jobs are hard, you know? and i'm not any of those things, i'm a reporter. i spent all day breathing with james coney today and the fbi director and wrote a story. i got a really great appreciation for how rough life can be and i get annoyed sometimes when you will be anything with chevy chase and bethesda and you hear these people talking about the problems of urban and suburban america and they talk in this kind of condescending way. you're just like you know, i can't handle you anymore. i love for you to detail with the homicide squad for one month. when you come out of that, you're a different person. >> actually a comment before the question. i retired from police work, spent five years in homicide and you mentioned in the book
homicide, i did an assignment and i rent remember when the book came out we use that book in the homicide unit as a bible, as something we can learn from. that was in 90 to 95 i was there and so i wanted to thank you for writing the book because this is the real deal. from what i've read so far, like 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 in there so far that was made up, i can tell that's the real deal, the language that they use the way the mannerisms, everything so congratulations. >> thanks very much. >> the question is as homicide by day deciding what went on to become a cheesier tv series, do you envision something like that for your book ? >> some friends and i and
this is no reflection, some friends and i were emailing back and forth, i'm not going to say which friends they maybe actually here about 14 or 15 things you cannot ask an author. one of was never asked when is it goingto be a tv show because all is going to do is make the author really depressed . there's so many things. like, i don't know. i think that it would be great if it was on but i can't, it's really hard and the reason i ask that is the cause in the time that i've known about the unit and work, i spent 27 years, this is the first time we had a book written about the unit with an apartment like this and four years i've thought about writing something and telling the story because as you stay down in the book and
it's here, you talk about prince georges county, the diversity and you're right. you could be down in a cost go, it's a completely differentenvironment than langley park or district heights or whatever . and it's a beautiful story. so again, thank you for writing the book because it tells the story of not only the unit but about a little bit about prince georges county. >> i felt e.g. county, i say pg and i know officials in pg who don't like same pg but i have yet to make a pd resident who didn't call it pg county, mri on that? someone warned me, be careful when you go to the community and use pg county because they really don't like it and i said i've yet to meet a single resident of this county call it anything but pg, i'm sorry. it's not derogatory, it's just short order. >> i don't see the district of columbia, icbc.
you'll see anyone in dc getting upset about it but i also think he and i waited for the letter from baker saying is the county executive of book tv, i'm waiting for the letter from him urging the national boycott of my book and it would probably get me more press he could do that if he wants but he probably won't. miss mayhew? how are you. do you want to come up here for a second? it's on tv. >> i'm on lunch so ... [laughter] >> okay. >> cynthia mayhew is the mother of nico mayhew, the dick detective there, miss mayhew, thanks for coming. >> yes. >> you spent six months with the unit. how long of that process did it take you to figure out who those characters were going to be? you said you have 25, 26. how long did it take you to
figure out who your main characters were going to be? >> if someone were to say how should i do this book i would give them the opposite advice. i spent six months and i put in a proposal to get more time and money for my publisher, all of two units in particular going forward the rest of the year. he said no. we're not giving you any more money. you got to come up with a story. i said i have nothing and i was talking to a guy at the washington post and i said how do i wrestle withthis, how do i get around this issue . he said how many notebooks do you have and i said 150 notebooks. he said you have a book in there somewhere, just look back and i've got to tell you, i wrote down everything. anyway, so i went back and in february and i was like i started thinking about it and i said a lot of people like to tell book from people having. i looked at because it came from a genuine moment in the book in december and there had been five murders in december and i'm struggling. i haven't got a great case yet and i wanted one really
good case, not in the sense that, i just wanted a really compelling tentpole to solve it and i go to billy rail, billy rayle is a hard living, fun-loving guy and he's lieutenants, knows everything about everything. he's a homicide god prop probably. billy rayle and i go billy, what am i going to do? i'm not sure, what's going to happen? it's been kind of slow and i hope that there's an interesting case that comes along but i don't know, what am i going to do? you do this? he said we will catch a few more this month. he didn't actually tell me this, other guys were sitting around and he was talking and
in january it will get busier but february, be ready for february it will be a good month for murder. he said there's too much pent-up blood and murder on the street and that is when it will get let out. i thought back to that quote and i said i've got all this stuff and i had to go through and i wrote that under 20,000 words and realize one afternoon that i had 40,000 words to have the book make sense and he would be like, this is a bad metaphor for the setting so forgive me that you have to kill babies, that's what they call it,kill your babies . you love these big characters and you love the scene. laugh, laugh. one afternoon, three hours, 44,000 words. and then the book a lot more sense . then i got to play more with the characters and i could emphasize characters in different ways like andy florez was the rookie and i could load up on that in some ways, that character. mike kroll, the outlandish hardcharging guy, i start a book with him driving around trying to get this guy. i want to have john deere get him which upset him because
he so competitive. he's a hard-nosed investigator who should be a historian and billy watts and andre brooks, one of my most favorite characters and mike t bob, he's in not. executed his own dog because he broke his back. and stuff. he's the kind of guy they'd admit may be the kind of guy that admits he went skinny-dipping, went skinny-dipping and got stung by a jellyfish somewhere he shouldn't have. he has no filter. i want to keep some of that out and i was like oh my gosh, so much of that i go, that's half. >> does this bring to mind anything you had with the pictures? >> no pictures. if you know my facebook page, it's just my first and last name . i have been posting pictures. >> one, i took some photos
for notetaking purchases like if i wanted to describe the words, i don't want you to have to , what i would love to is for you to read the book and have a sense of what mike kroll is like or looks like, and i wanted to see the total of him saying oh my gosh, that's him. or like you see, he may be becomes a tv show that we will not talk about and that's not him. that's hawaiian vision but i put that in. and that's, i was lucky because i saw these guys. went in my first book i have a lot of documentary history, a lot of photos. but i always describe paul's always have a photo to describe what something looks like. i don't know how people like jesse here righthistory and render it. jesse's written two books , one about how slaves lived in the white house called the invisibles and he wrote another book about how slaves
built the uscapital . that's got this rich language and i encourage everyone to get it. that's hard. and i'm relying on newspaper clippings and genealogy texts. he's short but he's tall. it was involved, was he not? i got lucky that way. i didn't want to. it was because the pictures i took were for notetaking 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 now i'm going to keep posting but some of them you will find boring. now twitter which is del wilder at book tv. any other questions? sure.
yes. >> i came in and i was expecting to have all the homicide cases in the county and i was talking to these ladies and i said wait a minute, it's not like traditional where you have a case and i was going to read about the case, i wanted to read it and that was going to be it. so you must have known that people have a mindset that she explained to me that you talked about all the cases and all the different throughout so you've got to read the whole book to get everything. you intertwine all the cases in the book . >> that's the way it really is. that's the speed of it. it shouldn't be hard to tell because there was so much that it became overwhelming and i had almost 1000 soap i didn't see, it wasn't there for everything in the book obviously, you can't be at all perfect but i was there all the time so i was following micro and sean
here, there's a key moment in the investigation of the murder of nico mays where a detective cannot figure it out. he's got this really good kid and he doesn't know what to do with it. he kind of forgets about it, he's very scattered and they spent the previous day at a murder suicide in college park, you remember when the guy told the student and kill himself, shot the other guy and it was awful. the guy had was in his backpack and all these potential applications, it was at two in the morning or something so they're pretty fired but he still has to solve this nico mays case and time is running out if you solid then they can't use nico mays grand jury testimony in the trial of his own nephew who was accused of killing him, they thought kill him. so nico mayhew is a witness in a double homicide in which his own nephew is charged. nico's murder. by his grand jury testimony is damning. if mike can link the nephew
to the murder, of nico mayhew then get the grand jury testimony so the clock is ticking. he has to solve this case and he is now, now jeremy will if anyone here knows jeremy bolick, it's encyclopedic. on pg criminal. and so he bumps into him at a crime scene and he says can you come to my desk and watch the video of the security video for the 1000th time he recognizes any of these guys in there and maybe this one bad actor. comes over, watches it and recognizes anyone, i'm sorry but again , i'm not there watching, i'm watching it but i'm actually focused on another thing that happened. my eyes there, i'm listening and it's kind of interesting but my mind is focused on what mike kroll and sean here are doing. then i hear mike go, i've got this kid. he's like i got nothing, i've got some bad language, i've
got nothing. i'm trying hard, it doesn't make sense. i got this car and sam carjacking thing. bull looks at him and says are you dumb? john and stan winston. stanley wilson got locked up for carjacking. being. looks up at the fbi, somehow they get the phone off the carjackers. find out the jail to the carjackers is not from the nephews account but another guys account at the jail. old tapes, listens to them and if the nephew orchestrating the murder. and it's serendipity, to be homicide that if you need three things, doggedness, creativity and lot area don't get locked without the first. you'll solve many cases if you are just dog. you're pretty good at putting your reports together and knocking on doors. if you're just creative, you're not going to get either because you have to knock on doors toget locked. people don't appreciate that .
they think su solving it or something but i don't know where we started, we started with some question about how the book was organized. yes. so because that's the way it happened, i couldn't tell it like chapter by chapter and everything about the laughing and swimming in one day a detective is like, i am working on this, not just my case i'm working on your case and then there there and it made it hard for me as a storyteller. this is so cool. wait a minute, is that cooler? i felt like the guy at the party with the date who is not super pretty. that girl is prettier or that girl. maybe we can cut that. is that it? i'm happy to sign books but if anyone has another question i am happy to answer. likely excuse. thanks for coming, i really appreciate it. [applause]
>> if you purchase mister wilderness book, go ahead and get some side. if you purchase it you must do so before the signing. >> thank you for reading it. [inaudible conversation] >> cynthia mays. now, linda green has is one of the supreme court best and most experienced observers. she covered the court for the new york times for decades and now writes about it for