Friday, February 18, 2011

Handy Tools for a Would-Be Private Eye, Magical or Not

by Megan S.

All of my favorite urban fantasy heroes solve mysteries.  Some are detectives like Kelley Armstrong's character Paige Winterbourne, others are debunkers/investigators like Stacia Kane's Chess Putnam, but all of them have three things in common: they go where they are not supposed to, get stuck in unfortunate jams, and all carry choice pieces of gear to help in either situation.  Their gear is usually something like an enchanted bracelet or their own blood but, as a norm (read: muggle,) I'd have to rely on more commonplace tools.

So, what tools should a would-be (and totally magic inept) private eye carry in her purse just in case she ever gets in a sticky situation?

A LED Light on a Flexible Stem with a Clip
Action shot! That's the LED light illuminating the contents of my purse.

Why Would a Private Eye Need It:

This teeny tiny flashlight will come in handy in all sorts of situations including skulking in an office looking for incriminating pieces of evidence during a Black-Tie affair at the Mayor's mansion.  The clip allows you to use both hands while quickly rifling through papers.

Why You Should Carry It With You Anyway:

I don't know about you guys, but my purse is a black hole that I blindly shove my hand in to groping for my keys or my earphones.  It'd be nice if I could actually see what I'm doing.

A Swiss Army Knife on Your Keychain
One of the smaller Swiss Army Knives.
Why Would a Private Eye Need It:

If you ever spot an air vent while on an investigation, there is bound to be something hidden behind the grate and you'll need a screwdriver to get to it.  It's a universal law, like gravity.  The blade will come in handy if you have just escaped from the villian's lair and the bastard has implanted you with a tracking device.  Hold the blade over a flame or douse it with liquid from a conveniently located bottle of alcohol to kill the germs and deftly take that sucker out.  Reserve some of the alcohol to drink as an anesthetic.

Why You Should Carry It With You Anyway:

Swiss Army Knives are always good to have on hand. The gadget will prove useful even if it is because you just need to open a bottle while out or something to pry gum of your shoe.  The only time I ever find the tool inconvenient is when I have to slip it off my key ring for a plane ride.

SurvivalStraps Survival Bracelet
If you legitimately used the bracelet to survive, the manufacturer will replace it for free.
Why Would a Private Eye Need It:

Let's face it.  You will get in to some hinky situations in your new career as a PI.  There will most likely be times you will have to tie someone up  and how often are there sturdy lengths of rope just laying around?  Never.  If you have this problem, you'll be glad you had a SurvivalStraps bracelet.  It unwinds in to a 14 foot length of rope that will support 550 pounds of weight.  Try wiggling your way out of that, creepy intruder I have temporarily stunned with a knock to the head via paperweight.

Why You Should Carry It With You Anyway:

I am convinced (CONVINCED, I SAY!) that some emergency will pop up and I will need this bracelet.  It may involve me being stranded in a forest or rescuing someone from a very shallow well, but one day I will actually need to have a 14 foot length of rope and I will be proud of my foresight.   You should carry one, too.  Just in case.

Tool Logic Survival Card
Think Geek rocks!
Why Would a Private Eye Need It:

Remember when I mentioned having to sterilize the blade to remove the tracking device?  You can start that flame with this card.  No need to worry about it getting wet during your swim to safety, just wipe it off on some absorbent moss or on dry rags if you were lucky enough to find some.  (Save those!  You will need kindling!)  You will also be able to saw through some small branches or let out a piercing whistle using the card.  See?  This thing is awesome!

Why You Should Carry It With You Anyway:

As with the SurvivalStraps bracelet, I'm convinced I will need this someday.  It may be to start a small fire (banked, of course, by rocks because I don't want to set a forest ablaze) when I have somehow managed to get lost in those woods.  Anyway, it's small and takes up very little room in my wallet.  Be prepared, people!

Swarovski Lock Pendant
Oooh, sparkly!
Why Would a Private Eye Need It:

This shiny little pendant hides a flash drive.  Everyone knows a PI will need to covertly download files from a computer when the sheriff has stepped away from his desk to talk to the deputy about the crime when the two do not want to be overheard.  Rifling through your bag for a flash drive will draw unwanted attention.  Slipping off your necklace will not.

Why You Should Carry It With You Anyway:

Sparkly pendants are always good in my book as are having a handy USB flash drive with you.  Flash drives are necessary when your printer breaks and you need to run to Fed Ex Office right before it closes in order to print out your report or downloading music from a friend's band from their computer. (See what I did there, Recording Industry Association of America? The hypothetical situation I referenced would be a completely legal download.)

An iPhone Loaded With Apps

Why Would a Private Eye Need It:

Carrying a smart phone is a no brainer. All PIs need to snap photos, make calls and use GPS to find the warehouse where the contraband is being stored.  Two additional apps will be helpful in your quest to take down the villains.  The Genius Scan app takes photos of documents and digitally adjusts the image so it's easier to read.  This will be perfect after you've used your LED flashlight to find the incriminating documents at the Mayor's mansion.  The QuickVoice Recorder app is a much better one than the program Apple installed.  It will come in handy when you need to covertly record a confession.  Oh and both apps are free.  A good PI is also a frugal PI.

Why You Should Carry It With You Anyway:

Apps like these are always handy.  A document scanning app is perfect when you need copies of receipts or reports but no photocopier handy.  A voice recorder is good for taking memos and recording lectures to refer back to later.

So, there you go.   Carrying all of these will barely take up any room in a purse but I will always be ready should I be forced in to a dangerous (and sexy!)  situation where I must become a detective in order to save helpless innocents... or more mundane circumstances.
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  1. Love this!

    Hilarious AND informative. I particularly like the Swarovski Lock Pendant/flash drive.


  2. Excellent post. So funny and really informative. I loved your description of the SurvivalStraps Bracelet.

  3. I covet the Swarovski pendant! So sparkly, yet so useful!

  4. Does it count that I have big knife in my purse?

  5. Nara-


    Remind me never to cross you.