"What you will be privileged to witness will not be an interrogation, but an act of salesmanship as silver-tongued and thieving as ever moved used cars, Florida swamp land or bibles. For what I am selling is a long prison term to a client who has no genuine use for the product." ~ Frank Pembleton, Homicide Life On The Street
"If a murder is committed in Baltimore and no homicide detective takes the call, did that murder occur?" ~ John Munch, Homicide Life On The Street
Did I say that last part out loud?
|Grover, back in his days as a prime suspect|
|The first ever game of murderscotch|
I've been writing an interrogation in the last few days. It's a pivotal scene in my work in progress. My group of protagonists have come to question a terrorist suspect. They're already armed with a good deal of information. They need more. And so writing the passage has been about goading the suspect into giving that information up.
Given my genre of the spy thriller, torture might be an option, but not for me. I have issues with use of torture, and I don't particularly think it's effective in getting information. In fact, one of my main characters would have issues with its use, given that he's been tortured himself. That's to be left to the prequel, of course, which is yet to be written.
So torture is out. Instead I've been writing the sequence as a psychological battle of wills, and so the Pembleton Techniques (memo to Barry Levinson: why didn't you trademark that?) have been on my mind as I've been writing. One of my characters does most of the talking, and not the one you might expect. Others haven't said anything yet. The point of view shifts between prisoner and protagonists. I've been combining both accusation and empathy in the interrogation. I've used cold hard facts. And I'm using fear and intimidation. It's all meant to wear down the terrorist, to bring him to the point where he gives up.
I did face one challenge early on. My terrorist is in a sedated state, coming out of it as my protagonists arrive. There was the possibility that it might mirror a similar scene in the Tom Clancy novel Rainbow Six, where a terrorist gives away a whole lot of information while under the influence of sedatives, tricked by the protagonists. I didn't want to go that route, and I knew it might be a problem. When I got to that point, I had come across a way to write it so that it didn't mirror that book. Besides, unlike Tom, I don't feel like writing where the sedatives were made, how they're distributed into the bloodstream, who the custodian is on duty that night, how long ago the hospital bed was made...
Now while I might not use torture as a means of gathering information for my characters.... it can still be funny. Assuming you're not so easily offended, that is. And so I leave you with these...
By the way, confidential to the crew: they've got my confession! Run to your bolt holes and take as much of the loot as you can!