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Practical Handbook for Professional Investigators, 3rd edition

​Practical Handbook for Professional Investigators, 3rd edition. By Rory J. McMahon. CRC Press;; 580 pages; $99.95.

Author Rory McMahon began his career as a probation officer in 1973 and he hasn’t stopped since. Today he is a successful investigator in the private sector and his book, Practical Handbook for Professional Investigators, displays his expertise. His style, approach, and methodologies reflect years of hard work and immense experience. Without reservation or any sense of hesitation, he puts his extensive knowledge to excellent use. Starting with the fundamentals, he walks the reader through topics ranging from interviews and interrogations to ethics and the operation of one’s own investigative agency. Though in places a tad disorganized, the book is a compelling and largely useful work. 

McMahon boldly states in his preface, “This book is designed for individuals studying to become investigators, as well as investigators of all types and with all levels of experience.” [Reviewer’s emphasis]. That’s a promise he clearly has some trouble fulfilling. Indeed, this is an excellent reference for those studying to become professional investigators; however, those with extensive experience may be disappointed. For example, in the chapter titled “Fraud Investigations,” he offers “10 basic rules in fraud investigations.” The first rule is “Never overlook the obvious!” and the last is the useless “Detecting fraud is hard work.” Such banality will certainly bore some readers. Later on, McMahon attempts to sell the reader a prescription for investigating “boiler rooms” and “telemarketing fraud”—really. 

Aside from these minor shortcomings, the author does a good job. He effectively lays out the fundamentals and guides the reader through the many types, forms, and methods of professional investigations in the private sector. As a reference and text for the novice or student, it is an excellent resource, but for the experienced fact-finder, there is a lot more to choose from. 

Reviewer: Eugene F. Ferraro, CPP, PCI, CFE (Certified Fraud Examiner), SPHR (Senior Professional in Human Resources), is a member of ASIS International and currently sits on the ASIS Standards and Guidelines Commission.