As I say in the interview Edna Buchanan's incredibly great crime reporting was an inspiration for me as a reporter, and I was known to give a book compilation of her stories to other reporters in attempts to improve their game. If you have not read that collection, with the wonderful title The Corpse Had A Familiar Face, you need to read it to see just how good police journalism can be.
Buchanan covered the police beat for The Miami Herald for 18 years during which she covered 5,000 violent deaths including 3,000 murders. She won the Pullitzer Prize and the George Polk Award for Career Achievement in Journalism.
While her novels are good there's no substitute for The Corpse stories, sometimes, and this is definitely the case in the Miami she reports on. Fact is indeed stranger than fiction.
That said, her latest novel, A Dark and Lonely Place, is an entertaining yarn, mixing fact and fiction, playing with the idea of history repeating itself.
Buchanan agreed to let me interview her and this is the result. The conversation reminded me of one with another police reporter-turned-novelist named Michael Connelly, who also had a real-life crime compilation.Thanks again to Edna for letting me interview her.
Like many I first came to know you through your crime reporting. I was a police reporter at the time and I would give copies of The Corpse Had A Familiar Face to other reporters partly to inspire them, partly to show just how good police journalism can be. So I hope you are not tired of talking about those days because I'm going to spend the first half of this interview asking about your non-fiction work the second half on your new novel, ok? Do you get tired of talking and writing about those days, do you recall those days with pride or a bit of both?
I realize now, more than ever, how wonderful it was to be a journalist. There is something noble and exciting about venturing out each day to seek the truth. Every day was an adventure. The police beat is all about life, death, and human nature. It has it all: Greed, sex, violence, comedy and tragedy. It’s Shakespeare in the raw. Every day I met Othello, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet or King Lear. On some bad days I met them all. Some threw rocks and bottles, fired guns, or brandished knives. Many were tragic, doomed and dangerous, or on the brink. Sometimes you can reach out.