Bright Lights and Rubber Hoses: Interrogating Paul Bishop

Paul Bishop: a top cop who became a top author
Paul Bishop: a top cop who became a top author


PAUL BISHOP is one of our most popular and consistent columnists at Caleb and Linda Pirtle. A number of his previous novels have been serialized on Caleb and Linda Pirtle to popular acclaim. His latest novel, Lie Catchers, has been recently published by Pro Se Productions. Lie Catchers is the first novel in a new series featuring top LAPD interrogators Ray Pagan and Calamity Jane Randall. Paul is a nationally recognized interrogator in his own right, and it’s only fair he take a turn facing the bright lights and rubber hoses…

Lie Catchers is infused with many of your own experiences as an interrogator, but what was the actual inspiration to jump start the series?

As you know, I spent thirty-five years with the LAPD. More than twenty-five of those years were spent investigating sex crimes – fifteen of them running a squad of thirty sex crimes detectives with jurisdiction over twenty-five percent of the city. During that time interrogation became a more and more important part of what we did. By videotaping and critiquing every interrogation we did, it became clear which techniques worked and which didn’t. as a result, our unit consistently had the highest sex crimes clearance rate in the city.

I now teach week-long interrogation classes to experienced detectives at wide variety of law enforcement agencies, including my old stomping ground – the LAPD. Invariably, on Wednesday or Thursday, one of the more experience detectives will approach me because they are angry. However, the great thing is, they aren’t angry with me. They are angry because they didn’t understand the concepts taught in the class sooner. It is not the cases we crack that matter, it’s the ones we don’t crack that haunt us.

Having read voraciously in the mystery field as well as writing a number of cop related novels, I realized I’d never come across a novel that dealt with interrogation in a realistic manner. Books don’t get it right. TV certainly doesn’t get it right.

With the knowledge and experience I had with interrogation, I wanted to write a novel that would be as close to what an interrogator does as fiction would allow. Lie Catchers is the result.

Your character Calamity Jane Randall has a very special gift when it comes to Lie Catching. Without giving too much away how did you come up with her condition?

Jane was a very interesting character for me, particularly since the book is written in the first person from her perspective. I knew going in what her special gift as an interrogator was, but I also knew she didn’t understand her condition or how to use it. While Jane’s gift is very rare – it’s even an uncommon symptom within the condition itself – it is also very real. I had read about it a number of years ago and filed it away in my writer’s treasure box, knowing someday I would find the right place to use it in a book.

Enter, Ray Pagan. He recognizes Jane for what she is. He’s been searching for somebody like her. Ray has his own set of gifts, smoke-and-mirrors as he calls them, but also actually very real. Once I put the two characters together on the page, I felt I had something special as well.

Pagan and Randall use a number of different interrogation techniques in Lie Catchers. How much of what they get up to is fact or fiction?

Fiction often blurs the lines of reality, but everything that goes on in Lie Catchers I’ve either done myself or known somebody who has done it. The issue was real life is often less believable than fiction. I needed to present the techniques in such a way the reader would both understand and accept them.

You’ve recently retired after thirty-five years with the LAPD. What do you miss most about the job?

Working with my crew and cracking cases, putting villains in jail, pursuing the ever elusive truth in any given situation or crime. What I don’t miss is the never ending bureaucracy, second guessing, and mountains of paperwork needed to feed the beast of a big city police department and District Attorney’s office

At the end of Lie Catchers you’ve added some very special bonus material that is worth the price of admission alone. What made you think to add these pages in?

Creating the situations Pagan and Randall deal with in Lie Catchers, made me think about my own first arrest and interrogation. I then realized there was a big difference thirty-five years later when I made my last arrest and interrogation. I sat down one afternoon and the words to describe those two events just flowed out of me. When I was done, I shared the memoir pieces with several family members and friends. Their positive response, made me realize they could be added a bonus to Lie Catchers to give readers something they wouldn’t find in any other novel.

You’ve said Lie Catchers is the start to a new series. What can we expect from Pagan and Randall in the future?

The problem with finishing writing a novel is you have to start all over again. However, I’ve spent so much time in my head with Pagan and Randall they almost seem real to me and I’m anxious to get back to hanging out with them. The sequel, tentatively titled Lie Killers, is already percolating along and I already have a glimmer of an idea for book three.

Thanks to Paul for sitting down and confessing all without the need to skin our knuckles. Be sure to pick up a copy of Lie Catchers and dive into the world of interrogation with Pagan and Randall.


Novelist, screenwriter, and television personality, Paul Bishop spent 35 years with the Los Angeles Police Department, where he was twice honored as Detective of the Year. He continues to work privately as a deception expert. His fifteen novels include five in his LAPD Homicide Detective Fey Croaker series. His latest novel, Lie Catchers, begins a new series featuring top LAPD interrogators Ray Pagan and Calamity Jane Randall., Twitter @bishsbeat, Facebook, Amazon


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