If you’re going to write a series of crime thrillers about a private detective, you are going to need one or two main investigations and possibly a couple of minor ones in each novel. When I began thinking about my own private detective stories, I made myself a list of things that the detective might investigate – I’m sharing that list here as possible inspiration for your stories.

  • Missing person or disappearance
  • Acting as a minder or bodyguard for someone or something
  • Acting as a go-between in a blackmail case
  • Kidnap
  • Investigating employee theft – perhaps data theft
  • Investigating the theft of a bizarre object
  • Investigating a blackmailer or poison pen letter writer
  • Disputes between neighbours
  • Following a cheating spouse
  • Photographing welfare cheats
  • Repossessing a car or house
  • Finding a lost cat, dog, snake, or whatever
  • Providing security at an event
  • Investigating reports of a prowler/peeping tom
  • Tracking down an internet ‘groomer’ or child pornographer
  • Recovering stolen property
  • Investigating a client’s potential marriage partner or business partner
  • Investigating a young man’s past for the father of the bride-to-be
  • Investigating the theft of an incriminating or embarrassing object stolen during what seems to be a normal break-in
  • Helping an old friend who is the victim of extortion or blackmail
  • Conveying a person or object safely from one place to another
  • Locating a stolen object – and its thief
  • Advising a company on its security
  • Investigating racially-motivated attacks
  • Checking out an area where a client wants to buy a house or a piece of land
  • Helping someone prove they were unfairly fired from their job
  • Helping a client who wants revenge on a cowboy builder
  • Tracking a fly-tipper
  • Helping a client who wants revenge on a businessman who keeps going bust
  • Tracking the seller or maker of a dangerous toy or electrical product
  • Investigating arson
  • Investigating theft of lead from a church roof or copper pipe from schools
  • People trafficking
  • Sex trafficking
  • Illegal immigration or sham marriages
  • Political fraud
  • Medical experimentation
  • Business fraud
  • Industrial espionage
  • Terrorism or extremism
  • Animal rights activism
  • Anti-war protesters
  • Anti-nuclear protesters
  • Hunt saboteurs
    Illegal sports or hunting, e.g. bare-knuckle fighting, dog fights, animal baiting
    Former dictator’s henchman or torturer in hiding
    Selling babies
    Forced surrogacy
    Internet scams
    Conning old people
    Arms dealing
    Confidence trickster
    Drug dealers
    Illegal alcohol or cigarette sales