Saturday, July 30, 2011

PI Mailbag - Answering Your Questions (or your money back)*

I recently received a query from a reader that I felt was worth sharing with everyone, since it's a topic that deserves some thought and even input from other readers.

That would be you.

Dear Anonymous PI,

You are pretty awesome and talented and obviously know a lot. I think it is sad that you are clearly undervalued by society.
I would really appreciate it if you would kindly share what other books you would recommend on both investigations and surveillance?

In return, I will name my first-born after you.

Regards, etc...
Well, firstly allow me to thank the writer. You are too kind, sir. No need to be naming your first-born after me. Your second- or third-born will suffice.

My reasoned response was as follows:


  1. "Surveillance Tradecraft: the Professional's Guide to Covert Surveillance Training" by Peter Jenkins (For reasons I have stated earlier, this is pretty much the surveillance 'Bible')
  2. "Secrets Of Surveillance: A Professional's Guide To Tailing Subjects By Vehicle, Foot, Airplane, And Public Transportation" by ACM IV Security Services 
  3. "Surveillance Countermeasures: A Serious Guide To Detecting, Evading, And Eluding Threats To Personal Privacy" by ACM IV Security Services


Well, now it gets a bit tricky since it is such a broad area, with different legal strictures in place depending on where in the world you are based, not to mention wildly differing capabilities to access various databases or public information. I personally find most US-written books to be not all that helpful on many subjects since I am not in that part of the world.

However, I do recommend, for various reasons -

  1. "Taking Statements" by Stewart Calligan
  2. "What Every Body Is Saying" by Joe Navarro
  3. "Process of Investigation: Concepts and Strategies for Investigators in the Private Sector" by Charles A. Sennewald and John Tsukayama.

The last is more geared towards an investigator working in a corporate environment but there is some worthwhile info in there for the average gumshoe as well, I think.

There are a bunch of ebooks by Michael Hessenthaler available at low cost here that I have heard good things about but not actually gotten around to getting myself yet. These are aimed at mainly an Australian market although may be just as relevant elsewhere.

Because of recent 'issues' I no longer own any books so will have to start my library again from scratch.

Anyway, for any other investigators out there, please feel free to add coments on any other books you may have purchased, or even on the books mentioned above. Or you may wish to email me directly instead.

On a slightly tangential note, on a (non-investigative) blog I sometimes read, I saw a declaration by the author detailing what various companies and agencies provided him with, gratis. Mobile phones, software, hardware, corporate boxes to sporting events, meals etc. (Quite frankly, he's a bit of a windbag, I used to argue with him on politics many years ago on USENET.)

The most I've gotten here is, well, nothing.

So, feel free to shower me with gifts such as books or gadgets to review, helicopter rides, a week in a Maui resort or the like. Seriously.

*Money back offer does not apply. Badly-written IOU may be tendered as replacement.


  1. Well since parents have named their children 'Apple' & 'Pilot Inspektor' I foresee no problem in 'someone' naming their first born 'Anonymous Investigator'.

    Just think how strong that name will make the child.

  2. I heartily concur. Plus, it may also prepare them for a later career in an exciting field, if they are so inclined.

  3. What I like about the second book is that it includes tracking suspects by airplane. Clearly they had a bigger budget than most.

  4. Ah, that elusive dream client with deep pockets.

    That section was how to maintain surveillance on a subject aboard a plane, not using an aircraft as aerial surveillance platform. Still, I wouldn't say no to my own personal Predator drone...

  5. I've just gone ahead and repurchased all three on my surveillance list from Amazon, plus another (recent) title from ACM IV Security Services. I miss having my reference library.

  6. I have been reading through 'Secrets of Surveillance' and you can really tell it was written in 1993. They talk about car phones and people using public telephones.

    Who still uses public telephones?

  7. Yeah, it certainly is a bit dated in some areas (ie technology) but the basic tradecraft principals haven't really changed at all.

    As to who still uses public telephones these days, according to every movie I've seen: kidnappers! And possibly terrorists.