When I had this article idea, I believed police procedurals were descriptions of the methods used by police to investigate crime. That’s only partly true. Police procedurals are a genre of detective fiction that follows actual police procedures.
If you are only going to follow one detective in your book, you can almost dispense with proper procedures. Some detectives ignore the rules. In making your protagonist true to life, they will follow their own path. On the other hand, they will still need to work with a police force.
Novels in this genre usually have several crimes under investigation at the same time. That’s the reality of police work.
The criminal or criminals will usually be revealed early.
Police procedurals also narrate many police-related activities such as forensics, autopsies, the collecting of evidence, search warrants, and interrogations.
List of Police Procedural Authors
I’ve listed a few well known police procedural writers based on date of birth. The list is short because it only includes authors I’ve read.
John Creasey / J. J. Marric (1908 – 1973)
P. D. James (1920 – na)
Ed McBain / Evan Hunter (1926 – 2005)
James McClure (1939 – 2006)
James Patterson (1948 – na)
Kathy Reichs (1948 – na)
Michael Connelly (1956 – na)
Joe Nesbo (1960 – na)
Ian Rankin (1960 – na)
Police Procedurals – The Files
The best place to start learning is with books on police procedures. Be sure they’re on the jurisdiction you’ll be writing about.
There are also websites. While you won’t have great luck searching for police procedure manuals, there are resources. Here are a few I’ve found.
Between books and websites, you can get a good idea of police procedurals for the scene of the crime. If you get stuck while writing a procedure, you can always research the details.
Article by Ivan Izo.