K. Daniels: Working at The Firm

Writing for The Firm


It took me nine months to land the job. I had a friend who had a daughter that worked for a private investigation firm, and I wanted to work there too. Now that the kids were in school full-time, it was time to go back to work, but I wanted something interesting, something challenging. I made a point of asking this friend each month about any job openings, and finally, there was one. I knew they needed someone to write and edit their reports so during the chatty part of the interview, when they said, “Tell us something about yourself,” I made sure to mention my weekly participation in a writer’s group for authors trying to complete a novel. I was hired later that day, pending a clean background check, of course.

What I love most about The Firm is that I never know what will be on my desk any given day. Insurance fraud? Cheating Spouse? Company Theft? All three? One of my jobs is to go through each new case and write a synopsis for the investigators, making most read like the back cover of a novel. My biggest writing lesson was learned when my boss told me to watch my adverbs. In the report he was critiquing I had described a house as “severely dilapidated.” Severely was subjective, and I needed to do a better job of describing what was in the photos. My words had to give the scene concise clarity. The home’s broken windows, missing patches of roof and knee-high grass would paint a picture that allowed the client to assign the level of dilapidation.

Working at The Firm improved my research skills as well, giving my story-lines and characters more authentication. And nothing is more real than a residential fire. I always gravitate toward these cases, though I’ve never written about an arsonist. But the amount of desperation a person must feel in order to burn down their family home captivates me. I learned though, just because a person constantly rubs the back of his neck or paces around a room doesn’t make him guilty. (At least not in a court of law.) It makes him human. I’ve never seen a fall-to-the-ground confession from anyone we’ve investigated, though several people have withdraw their claims after speaking with us.


Ten years later, I still love working here. I’m a licensed private instigator now, and though it doesn’t come with a cool badge (my I.D. card looks like I made it at Kinko’s) I love the suspense of going through each case file, figuring things out, strategizing a plan. I’m grateful for the insight this job has provided me with the complexities of human nature. In times of extreme stress, showing the way a person reacts is something that happens to every character worth reading about.

K Daniels GlassesKaren

K. Daniels is the author of Three Days in Purgatory and the recently released A Reason to Run. She combines her love of suspense with women’s fiction. In addition to working at The Firm, she is also a freelance reporter for her local newspaper covering education and politics. Currently she resides in Sugar Land, Texas, with her husband and three children.