I was watching Fugitive Chronicles the other day, and just like on fictional cop shows, it’s the one random comment that can make the case. In this particular instance, the fugitive had vitiligo—a skin condition characterized by mottled lack of pigment—on his man parts. The investigator learned of his vitiligo through a conversation with someone who knew him. Intimately, obviously. The “friend” just threw that information out there.
When the fugitive was finally captured in Italy, his unique condition was the means the police used to definitively identify him as the man they were looking for.
Research can be time consuming and frustrating, and not just when trying to solve a case. But when I put in the time, I often find what I need in unexpected places. That's the fun part.
For example, I was recently looking at tattoo ideas for one of my book characters. She had lost some important people in her life and I wanted her to have a memorial tatt. While looking for ideas, I found a blog by a guy who had a 9/11 memorial on his arm. Not what I was looking for, but during the blog post he mentioned cherry blossoms on someone else’s arm that–in Japanese culture–represent the beauty and fleeting nature of life.
I did a little more research to verify the association, looked at images of cherry blossom tattoos to find one I liked, and now my heroine has a tasteful symbol to remind her of those she’s lost permanently inked onto her belly near her hip bone.
And, of course, this will drive my hero to distraction when he catches a glimpse.