Our guest today, Diane Capri shares what she learned researching her new book, Don't Know Jack where the villains tried the do-it-yourself-plan, with deadly results. I hope you enjoy this guest post by Diane Capri!
Licensed to Thrill: Crime Fiction
Crime writers are licensed to thrill, but how can we manage it when so many readers crave fantasy and science fiction? Human thrills are fueled by fear leading to flight and fight, and what is more thrilling than a speeding asteroid or fire-breathing dragons?
Crime stories don't have vampires, zombies, or warewolves. Missing from our thrill-creating toolbox are jet packs and light sabers. Bereft of rabid dogs, evil potions and carnivorous wolves, potential readers might think crime fiction is a bit too tame. Those readers just might be wrong.
Crime stories feature evil far more chilling than robotic terminators: all-too-real human monsters. The kind you'd never want to meet in a dark alley -- or the mall parking lot. Villains both writer and reader want to vanquish. Through crime fiction, we readers can prevail in a big way, even though the odds are stacked against us. And maybe we'll learn a bit about our own strength along the way.
Crime-fighting heroes are armed with determination and persistence, just like readers are. Is that enough? We crime writers are licensed to thrill, we've got the fortitude and permission. But we've got to make it happen. Do we have the tenacity?
As anyone who's ever watched an episode of CSI knows, technology has leveled the playing field in the high stakes game of law enforcement vs. criminals. While law enforcement agencies benefit from vast resources that even fictional criminals can't match, criminals possess such high-tech weapons as ubiquitous smartphones that do everything a government computer can do, and more.
Yes, criminals (and non-criminals alike) are being watched every minute of every day, but the overwhelming volume of images is a dense forest that conceals each poisonous tree from the most diligent of crime-fighters. The good guys have every advantage, but that doesn't mean the white hats are always bound to win.
FBI Special Agent Kim Otto will never, never, never give up. Her partner, Carlos Gaspar, has no choice but to follow her for another twenty years. But are they good enough to win against criminals who just keep on coming? Especially in the high stakes counterfeiting game?
Counterfeiters know that crime does pay, and has for centuries. But technology is leveling the playing field there, too, and helping the average criminal succeed more often than I realized before I started researching this book.
Did you know, for instance, that the United States Secret Service handles counterfeiting crimes, and they're plenty busy. Technology has made both counterfeiters and law enforcement more effective. Almost as soon as new currency is created in the ongoing effort to thwart these geeky thieves, counterfeiters find a way to copy the new designs. Neither player in this tense drama is likely to be finally defeated.
Consider the Superdollar. That sounds like fantasy, doesn't it? A superhero, maybe, able to multiply itself through mere exposure to the air, or some such? Nope.
As early as 1989, the first "supernote" or "superdollar" counterfeit was identified by the Central Bank of the Phillipines and submitted to the Secret Service for analysis. The quality of the ink, paper, engraving and printing were superior even to authentic U.S. currency. See what I mean about technology?
The Secret Service believed the Superdollar counterfeit operation was perpetuated by a single organization, perhaps even a foreign government. North Korea and Iran were the most likely. Pretty chilling, right? Arch enemies of the United States with unlimited U.S. currency? Imagine all the crime they could finance. *shivers*
By 1992, the value of Superdollars in circulation was estimated in excess of one billion. Today, Superdollars are considered one of the most serious terrorist threats to the United States and the world.
Perhaps the Superdollar controversy informed Lee Child's breakout thriller, The Killing Floor, which introduced us to Jack Reacher in 1997. I don't know. But it definitely plays a part in my new book, Don't Know Jack.
A lengthy article, published in the New York Times on July 23, 2006, lent support to the already researched facts in Don't Know Jack. If you're not already quaking, you can read Stephen Mihm's fascinating piece No Ordinary Counterfeit online at newyorktimes.com.
Maybe you think counterfeiting at the Superdollar level is too difficult for the average person to get away with, even temporarily? Nope. Examples surface every day.
Consider Albert Talton, dubbed The Most Notorious Counterfeiter when he was convicted of making more than $7 million in counterfeit bills using ink-jet printers. Before he began his business, he'd never used a computer. Counterfeiting has a short learning curve. After all, we're money experts, aren't we?
Talton's bills were first noticed in 2005 and by 2007, they'd travelled across the country in significant quantities. He was convicted and sent to prison--but not until 2009.
Privately, law enforcement conceded that Talton's counterfeits likely exceeded the $7 million estimate. But by how much? And where is that money now?
Feeling the thrill yet? No?
Well take a look and tell me: What's in your wallet?
About Diane Capri
Diane Capri is the bestselling author of six prior novels and a recovering lawyer. Diane says she writes mystery and suspense for the same reason she reads: to have fun, find out what happens, why people do what they do and to restore order to an unjust world. Diane's readers say her books emphasize everywoman's inherent strength and self-reliance. Diane's books are translated in multiple languages. She and her husband are snowbirds who divide their time between Michigan and Florida. Diane loves to hear from readers. Connect with her on the web: http://DianeCapri.com
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