Adventures in research

The other day I mentioned that I’ve purchased a book called How to Disappear. As research for my next novel, I want to find out if it’s possible these days to go off the grid for good. But the book is only one facet of my research. The beauty of the Internet is that I can sit at my desk and survey articles about how, exactly, you go about vanishing from one life into another.

Some of these articles are from well known publications — Wired, the Economist, the New York Times. Others are posted on the web sites of outfits that offer to help you pull the vanishing act. These outfits include private investigations agencies, former skip tracers, and law firms. As a writer, I’m fascinated to see their advice, and to find out how much they charge for their services. ($20,000 to $100,000, and that’s just up front, honey.)

And as a writer, I’m after accurate, helpful, trustworthy information. So I try to evaluate how authoritative all these sources are. And this is where my research crosses streams with a bit of business advice to these outfits: Don’t sound insane.

I spent some time reading a long article on one site, outlining the basic requirements for taking on clients who want to disappear (nobody who’s wanted on criminal charges will be accepted) and basic methods (to prevent being tracked by forensic accountants, funds should be transferred into attorney-client trust accounts and then into new corporate accounts; clients should aim to move to a country with robust privacy laws). Though unsettling, it sounded well-reasoned and professional.

That is, until I clicked a link to the outfit’s blog. Hello, 4,000 word screeds! The blog was a depthless pit of hysteria, lambasting the Kenyan muslim usurper in the White House and “exposing the truth” that the Saudis bribed Columbia and Harvard Law School to plant fake academic records claiming he’d attended those Ivy League schools when in fact he’s an illiterate psychopath who’s this close to destroying America’s defenses in preparation for the looming Arab invasion…

Just my opinion, but if you want folks to hand you a hundred grand up front, try not to sound like you’re swinging from the rafters in a tinfoil Batman suit.

One response to “Adventures in research

  1. Absolutely. That was soooo last year.

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