Happy New Year from Pursuit Magazine!
We, the editors, celebrated our second anniversary at PursuitMag on Halloween of 2014.
It’s been a great two years! We’ve published plenty of pieces we’re proud of, on topics from art heists to white-collar psychopaths, profiles of fellow investigators, personal essays, interviews, and features about false confessions and the ethics of GPS tracking. We launched our podcast, the Sound of Pursuit, last spring, and produced a short video series featuring the secrets of great surveillance operatives.
We’re still learning how best to serve and inform the investigative community. With that in mind, executive editor Hal Humphreys has toured the country, speaking at industry events from Florida to Texas and getting to know this community of investigators and fraud examiners, defense attorneys and investigative journalists—in short, anyone who scours the shadows, interviews witnesses, and digs through musty archives in search of What Really Happened.
Click us, and click us often. In return, we promise never to serve you mere clickbait.
As for the best stories of the year, the results have been tallied. Our super-secret story-choosing algorithm combines page views, shares, comments, and a mysterious variable that factors in general excellence…to come up with our top 14 picks for 2014, listed in chronological order.
A big new-year’s thanks to our readers, who always demand more and better, and to our amazing contributors, who consistently deliver on both counts. Click us, and click us often. In return, we promise never to serve you mere clickbait—just great stories that fascinate you, make you think, and help you do your job better.
“When bail agents have to arrest someone who didn’t turn up on his court date, the arrestee always has an excellent reason for his failure to appear.” —Joe Stiles
Joe Stiles is a longtime friend of Pursuit. His years in the business make him an amazing resource for the rest of us. This list, full of wit and wisdom, was the most shared piece in PursuitMag in 2014.
“In my ‘research,’ I realized there are some tricks of the trade that dominatrixes can teach us.” —Brian Willingham
Brian Willingham always distills his wisdom into useful, succinct, and entertaining posts. He’s been a good friend to Pursuit and a great personal friend, as well. Brian is an out-of-the-box thinker with a gift for putting his ideas into words.
And we’re absolutely sure the pageviews on this story had nothing whatsoever to do with the photo.
“You may need to get friendly with the reference desk at your local library..” —Eli Rosenblatt
Eli Rosenblatt is one of the smartest guys on the tech side of our business. He’s an accomplished forensic analyst and Mac specialist. But he understands the necessity for low-tech as well. This piece is as full of useful how-tos as the rest of Eli’s archive, which is well worth digging into.
“You’re not out to kill people…You’re trying to get them to do something that you—as a patriot—would never do yourself.” —Lindsay Moran
This post caused Pursuit to spike a record one-day viral effect. A great interview by Kevin Goodman—one of our best regular contributors— with a fascinating woman. Her take on how real spies do their jobs makes for a fun read.
5. Sound of Pursuit: Perceptions 3/19/14
“We don’t have a particular allegiance to particular parties in cases. We have an allegiance to the facts.” —Eli Rosenblatt
Daniel Potter took the reins in hand and produced our very first Sound of Pursuit podcast. Thanks to Eli Rosenblatt, Brian Willingham, and Kelly Paxton for playing along with this story.
Useful information, and lots to think about on the subject of how the public views our industry.
“We don’t solicit this work of finding kids, but when we’re called, we never say no.” —Joe Carrillo
Joe Carrillo is a PI who doesn’t shy away from…well, much of anything, including stirring the pot on occasion. I’ve considered Joe a good friend since we first met. He’s a fascinating character—he speaks truth to power and, most of all, donates his skills to finding lost kids. Read on and get to know him.
“It’s great when pragmatism and ethics coincide—that makes the decisions easy. It’s when they don’t coincide that dilemmas arise.” —Kevin Macnish
Ethics. It’s a tricky topic. But Kevin Macnish tackles ethical quandaries in an entertaining and thought-provoking way…and reminds us that ethics may be the most important subject of all for us as professional investigators.
Check this out, then explore his entire archive.
8. Cell-Phone Pinging and Triangulation 5/7/14
This piece was inspired by L. Scott Harrell’s popular article by the same title, posted in 2008. It was so popular, in fact, we thought it deserved an update.
This American Life producer Sean Cole agreed to go down the rabbit hole to explore the legalities and possibilities of tracking cell phone signals. And thanks to his quirky and informative storytelling style, this podcast had the most downloads of all last year. Great story, great radio.
9. The Secret of Surveillance 5/27/14
“Surveillance has made me a much more patient person. I’m comfortable waiting.” —Matt Grotkowski
Everybody loves a good surveillance story, especially when it’s laced with practical tips and wise asides, as this one is. And for veteran investigator Matt Grotkowski, being a great surveillance operative isn’t just about patience and observational skills; it’s about sincerity and discretion—traits we should all strive for.
“Skills of observation are like a superpower, especially when you actually care about the person you’re observing.” —Kim Green
This one seemed to resonate with a lot of readers—it’s a lifehack-style piece, one that applies all those hard-won investigative skills to our personal lives. Emotional intelligence, folks—it’s at least as important as the other kind of smarts, especially on the home front.
11. Every Week, I Talk a Client Out of Hiring Me 7/27/14
“Saying ‘no’ to clients who are better off not hiring a PI will make you feel like a better human being.” —Keith Owens
Keith Owens is more than just a smart investigator; he’s a wise man. This is the guy you’d want on the other end of the line if you ever needed an investigator’s services. I wholesale endorse this philosophy of doing business…and of being a decent human being.
“I cheated on my wife…or so she thought. And I learned more about the PI industry in one day than I had in my last eight years as an investigator.” —Ruben Roel
Ruben Roel is not only a marketing guru, coder, and web-designer; he’s a fine storyteller, too. This article from Ruben is honest and open, and it really got us thinking from the client’s perspective. I like this piece because it tells a good story and makes a strong point. Nice work, Ruben!
13. The New Face of Resume Fraud 9/1/14
“Keep digging until it smells right. The truth will come out, if you look hard enough for it.” —Christopher Borba
This piece really hit a sweet spot for readers: It’s simple and informative, and written in a no-nonsense style—getting to the who and what, and what-can-we-do-about-it in short order.
We learned a lot from this article, and that, after all, pretty much defines the mission of Pursuit. Hopefully, we’ll see a lot more from Christopher Borba in 2015.
14. A Primer on Industrial Espionage 12/4/14
“Plenty of industrial spies have stolen secrets with their eyes wide open, motivated by the huge advantage conferred by inside knowledge.” —Kevin Goodman
Kevin Goodman seriously does his homework. His stories are like college survey courses—detailed, fascinating overviews of topics like deception detection and white-collar crime, painstakingly researched and cited. Digging into one of his articles is worth the investment—and then, you’ll most likely be tempted to dig into them all.