How to Be a Good Detective

Five Parts:Having the right attitudeDeveloping your detection skillsKitting yourself outFinding a teamGetting started

Are your heroes Sherlock Holmes, Philip Marlowe, and Miss Marple? Do you dream of solving mysteries? Well, being an amateur detective takes more than wearing a trench coat and fedora. You also need practice, skill and a bit of bravery.

Part 1
Having the right attitude

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    Take charge of the situation. You've got to have the right attitude to what you're doing. Before you think you can be any kind of good detective, you've got to be ready. Take notes and be ready to stick your nose into any business to get what you want.
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    Develop good interpersonal skills. This means being able to easily converse with people you don't know, putting people at ease and asking questions. You will also need to think logically and keep a track of the information you've been told in your head. While you can write down information later, it is always better to retain it first, as you may not find an appropriate time to write notes when questioning people.
    • Learn to ask lots of questions. Learn how to come back to the question when people reply evasively or try to throw you off topic.
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    If you know someone in the family or friends of the family with detective skills, have a chat. For example, if there is a detective, a police officer or an investigator in your circle of family or friends, ask them about their work and the sorts of things a good detective should be on the lookout for.

Part 2
Developing your detection skills

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    Train yourself for an upcoming situation. Be ready to take risks and get ready for anything. Make sure all your evidence is correct or people will get the wrong idea and you'll get in a big mix.
    • Have a friend train you on finding small details or play a thinking board game such as; Mastermind, Cluedo, Cluedo (Masters), etc.
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    Read detective books. Learn what small details to notice and follow through on. How does the detective in the book think? Use the fictional character's approaches to help you learn how to stand in the shoes of other people and work out how they think, looking at things from a different perspective. That is the value of such fiction, learning to place yourself inside other character's feelings and motivations.

Part 3
Kitting yourself out

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    Get your outfit. Make sure it is something you find easy to move in or most comfortable. That way, it's easier sneak around and get into tight positions..
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    Get your gear. You'll need a magnifying glass, a notepad and pen, a brush - to maybe find fingerprints, etc. Sunglasses can help keep you less conspicuous, while a hat or hoodie can help you look like just one of the crowd. A flashlight is a definite must-have and a digital camera for images that you can study later, back in your room.
    • Gloves and resealable bags come in handy for handling evidence which might have fingerprints. Handle objects with clean gloves do you don't mess it up. You can also use a handkerchief. Use either to put important evidence into a small or large sized resealable bag.
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    Make a base. Make sure it's a safe place to keep all your evidence and clues. You must keep them safely, because no evidence means you're just telling tales.

Part 4
Finding a team

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    Get some friends (It's not fun without them!) side kicks are very helpful too. If you'd rather be independent,it's always nice to get a little help once in a while.
    • Get your own Dr. Watson! You can get a smart friend to help you solve a case (it is more fun)!
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    Don't be shy to ask for help. Just because you are an amazing detective that doesn't mean you can't ask for help. Even Sherlock Holmes needs help sometimes!

Part 5
Getting started

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    Find a mystery. What strange happenings are going on around you? Maybe a family member has lost something important. Perhaps a cat has gone AWOL. Or there might be a mystery at school, your local sports club or at a friend's house.
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    Look for clues. Inspect the area where the theft, loss, incident, etc. is thought to have happened. What can you find there? Do things look as they should or can you see small details that don't gel with normality?
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    If you really do find something that seems to break the law or is dangerous, contact the police immediately. The steps in this article are just for fun and for mainly helping people find things or fix small issues. They are not intended to involve you in anything that requires real detective and law enforcement skills.


  • Remember to act natural around the suspects.
  • Learn to theorize.
  • Everything is evidence from people's professions, to where they have been.
  • Try some brain teasers and logic puzzles.
  • Don't copy everything your favourite fictional detective does. Have your own style to how you work and act upon things.
  • Learn how to tell if someone is lying.
  • Learn how to interrogate someone properly. Ask open-ended questions instead of yes-or-no questions.


  • Never hurt or intimidate your suspects with anything, because you may have the wrong person and you will be acting outside of the law.
  • Never go up to a serious crime scene unless you properly qualified to attend such a scene.

Things You'll Need

  • Gear (flashlight, motion detector etc.)
  • Team
  • Base
  • Outfit
  • Computer (optional)
  • Bag (to hold stuff in)
  • Belt
  • Camera
  • Detective kit

Article Info

Categories: Spying