Angel's BiddingI’m Patricia Delaney, a private detective in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Of course, private detectives, though an odd breed, aren’t particularly unusual. Even in the mean streets of a Midwestern city.

But I have a specialty… using computer research (always the legal kind, never hacking—I can’t abide that!)… to do much of my sleuthing.

Again, these days, that’s not particularly unusual. After all, with Twitter and Facebook and “just Google that,” it’s not even difficult for your everyday Jane and Joe to dig up the goods on lovers, ex-lovers, employers, employees. These days, in fact, your everyday Jane and Joe makes it easy for just about anyone to unearth their goods, so to speak. (Every time I see some kid tagging him/herself on Facebook in a goofy ‘selfie’ that includes a bottle of booze or some questionable substance, with a comment like “what up, b@#ches!” I wish I could leap through my laptop screen, grab him/her by the shoulders, administer a good shaking, and say, ‘you do know your future employer may well find this, right? Even if you delete the photo? Or think you have? Because nothing is ever really deleted from the Internet…’)

But I digress.

You see, when I first started using computer research as a detective… I was, in fact, the first. You might say I put the ‘e’ in eGumshoe. Back in 1993, when my first case was documented, no one was adjoining the letter ‘e’ as a prefix to words to indicate ‘electronic.’ And no one was quite sure what to call me… so my title kept changing. I was a Cyber Detective. A Computer-Whiz PI. An Investigative Consultant.

These days, I stick to eGumshoe. Or just private detective.

But in those days, though there was email, there were no ebooks. There was no “i” anything—no iPhones, iPods, iPads or iTunes. There were no cell phones as we know them, nor the internet as we think of it now. Definitely no Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, Google or Wikipedia. There were laptops, but they were relatively rare for individual users, and not at all what we think of now; in fact, a 1990s era laptop might just squish the user’s lap. I couldn’t simply look up an address on the GPS on my (not-yet-invented) iPhone, or even on a car GPS. I couldn’t text. And a “notebook” meant a spiral bound pad of paper.

So, I was pretty cutting edge back in the day, with my 286 PC, pushing the limits of news and legal information databases and online chat rooms and so on to conduct much of my research, while still, of course, going on good old-fashioned stake-outs and doing face-to-face interviews. (I still do both of those from time to time.)

But these days, the write-ups of my first cases are a bit like historical fiction, technology-wise, anyway.

However, as I’ve continued my work as a sleuth, I’ve come to realize that though technology changes, human nature is amazingly consistent. Humans are motivated by love, lust, greed, fear, self-doubt, egotism—then, now, and forevermore. Humans forget that all actions (even inaction) have consequences. Sometimes good. Sometimes not so good. Humans also forget that what seems like a fun, cool idea in the moment may, later, seem regrettable. (Exhibit A: Aforementioned selfies, posted on social networking sites, that come back to haunt…)

One might think that the technology that once seemed so unique becoming ubiquitous might make work easier for eGumshoes like me. It certainly provides me with more opportunities. (See again Exhibit A.) But it also makes my work more detailed and tedious. I have to sort through and double-check so many sources now; our eAge makes it easier to put out half-truths that masquerade as the whole truth. As with all tools dating back to the wheel or your basic-rock-used-as-hammer, there are positives and negatives to technological tools, and thus to a world that’s leaped from a 286 PC being an unusual and expensive tool, to the power of the original room-filling computers being only a fraction of that on the iPhones in many people’s pockets.

I’ve enjoyed my career, though. Since my last documented case, I met and married a nice man, Charles, a high school math teacher. My business has grown to include two partners, and our company—Delaney, Lane and Ross Investigators, Inc.–specializes in computer forensics (searching computer systems for white collar crime, mostly for businesses rather than for individuals.)

Charles and I have two beautiful daughters, now grown. I’m not a grandmother just yet, but I am a great-aunt; Lucy, who played an important part in my first documented case, has a delightful son named Trevor. I still love beagles; our current beagle is named Roscoe. Charles plans to retire in three years, and at that point, I’ll sell off my part of the business to my partners. Charles and I have found the perfect vacation cabin on a lake in northern Canada, where we plan to spend many enjoyable summer.

Not only does it have spectacular views… it doesn’t have wifi.

So I’ll have plenty of time to relax, read, and enjoy the scenery!

Sincerely yours,

Patricia Delaney

GIVEAWAY: Comment on this post by noon March 10, and you will be entered to win (winner’s choice):

  • a free copy of either an autographed print version of Angel’s Bidding (the Kindle version is currently available free through March 12), OR
  • the Kindle version of your choice of the next two Delaney novels (Past Pretense or The Death We Share) OR
  • Sharon’s newest novel, My One Square Inch Of Alaska (print version or eBook, your choice), which doesn’t feature Patricia, but does include a mystery subplot!

Meet the Author
In addition to having written the Patricia Delaney mystery series, now re-released as ebooks and in the process of being re-released in trade paperback and audiobook formats, Sharon Short is the author of the novel My One Square Inch of Alaska (Penguin Plume, 2013) in which a pair of siblings escape the strictures of the 1950s industrial Ohio town on the adventure of a lifetime. Opening chapters of this novel earned Sharon a 2012 Ohio Arts Council individual artist’s grant and a 2011 Montgomery County (Ohio) Arts & Cultural District Literary Artist Fellowship. Sharon’s other mystery series is Josie Toadfern Stain-busting mysteries, available in paperback and as eBooks, published by HarperCollins.

Sharon is the Literary Life columnist for the Dayton Daily News and is the Executive Director of the renowned Antioch Writers’ Workshop in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Additionally, Sharon’s book Sanity Check: A Collection of Columns, (available in print, eBook and audiobook formats) includes 100 reader-favorites of her weekly humor and lifestyle column that ran in the Dayton Daily News from 2002-2012. She’s also the author of short stories and essays. Sharon and her husband live in Ohio; they are the parents of two adult daughters.

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