My second book is based in Sète and centres on my character working as a detective.
Simple you might think. We've all watched enough episodes of Morse, Midsomer Murders and CSI to figure out what a detective does. Now, if you have to translate that to France, you have to figure out just how their system works and it is very different. Who gets jurisdiction on a murder for example, the Gendarmes, or Police Nationale? What is the rank of a French detective and who is responsible for what? How much does the Magistrate get involved with say the murder scene and just what is a Juge d'instruction?
I know most of the answers now, not from internet research (my usual first call), but from a good family friend who is a French judge. She works in the family courts, so had to put her thinking cap on when describing how it works on the penal side. In fact, over dinner, I popped my first few innocent questions, and it took the Judge, her husband and her daughter, many hours to come up with the answers. They admitted, it is a very complicated part of the administrative process and one which is 'fluid.'
I've also been an avid watcher of the French series 'Spiral' - to see how les flics in Paris operate. Not the best role model perhaps, but it gives me a good lead.
And all this just to get the background right, so that my character has the right rank and can investigate a murder in the right way.
It's exhausting and I hope my readers will understand the phrase, poetic licence - because I'm going to have to be a big user!
Alain Bru, author of the Eddie Heany crime books, available on Amazon.