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A Guide to Business Organization, Management, and Basic Investigative Skills for the Private Investigator

Basic Private Investigation: A Guide to Business Organization, Management, and Basic Investigative Skills for the Private Investigator. By William F. Blake, CPP. Charles C. Thomas Publisher,; 320 pages; $39.95.

While accessible to readers at all experience levels, Basic Private Investigation targets law enforcement retirees and other professionals considering investigations as a second career. Entry-level investigators seeking to identify an investigative specialty will also find this book to be a helpful guide. No reader will find the book to be a sole source of information, but every reader will find something useful.

The first part of the book goes through the process of starting a new career. Among the subjects touched on are regulatory requirements, marketing principles, and fiscal issues as well as psychological readiness and working in the private sector. The concept of conducting investigations without the intent of charging a perpetrator—which is often the case in the corporate environment—is addressed as one of many considerations a former law enforcement professional will want to ponder before deciding to become a private investigator.

The second part of the book deals with basic investigative skills presented by experienced contributing authors. Novice investigators will benefit from sections on civil and criminal law, planning an investigation, and formal reporting. It might have been better if the author had provided a more thorough discussion of report writing—often a client’s first and most enduring impression of an investigator—and given less attention to international investigations, which would be better reserved for an advanced book. The book concludes with a discussion on using subcontractors, a necessary but frustrating practice.

In the end, readers will gain insight into investigation as a profession, and investigative professionals will benefit from gentle reminders of what makes them successful. Frequently asked questions, checklists, sample reports, and real-world anecdotes underscore and highlight topics presented. The author and his contributors have produced a book worthy of shelf space in every practitioner’s library.

Reviewer: Ross D. Bulla, CPP, PSP, is president of the global security risk mitigation firm The Treadstone Group, Inc., in Denver, North Carolina. He is a member of ASIS International and has served on the ASIS Physical Security Council.