Lie detector demonstration, author visit planned at Forbidden Barrel Thursday
Forensic psychologist and mystery author Frank F. Weber will talk about forensics, investigations and true crime.
WORTHINGTON — Lies, murder, writing and true crime will bring a little extra meaning to the “forbidden” in “Forbidden Barrel” during forensic psychologist and mystery author Frank F. Weber’s signing and speaking event there Thursday.
The writer will be at the business from 5 to 8 p.m. signing his latest book, “Black and Blue,” and he’ll give a presentation on forensic work from 6 to 6:45 p.m., including a live demonstration of a polygraph examination — participants are even encouraged to volunteer a friend.
“I’ve been a forensic psychologist for 27 years, and what got me into writing is that you’ve got to get it out of your head sometimes,” Weber said.
He began his career in forensic psychology with a focus on victims, and eventually transitioned into working with offenders, training with the world’s foremost experts on psychopathy and profiling.
Weber liked mysteries, but said there weren’t enough really good ones out there, so he started thinking about some of the real-life cases in Minnesota that might make a good book.
That’s still part of his process, and in fact the book he’s working on right now uses Pipestone as a setting. Generally, Weber takes a real case that happened in Minnesota, changes many, many details about it in order to fictionalize it, and writes about it.
His lead investigator, Jon Frederick, is a fictionalized version of Weber himself, and Frederick’s love interest Serena Bell is based on Weber’s wife.
“I love Minnesota and the people in Minnesota,” he said. “All of us know people who would be really good characters in a book.”
While he was writing his first one, the aptly-named “Murder Book,” Weber chose a then-unusual format for his work, writing in the first person but switching perspectives from one character to another. People told him it wouldn’t work, but then “Gone Girl” came out, with a similar format, and the next publisher who looked at his manuscript told him to start working on a sequel immediately because it was definitely going to sell.
“I think I have an advantage that a lot of authors don’t have,” Weber said, pointing out that he knows how offenders “rationalize their behavior and how they justify things. You get an understanding you wouldn’t otherwise have… even killers are heroes in their own stories.”
Sometimes it’s convenient for predators to be nice to others, and they’re often seeking an angle or advantage. They’ll make excuses for themselves and their self-centered, irrational behavior too, Weber pointed out.
He also emphasized the toughness of victims and said he tries to portray the healing process well, showing how people deal with trauma.
During his presentation at Forbidden Barrel, Weber will talk about the reality of forensics and how it differs from the fictionalized version shown on television. For example, he will explain how investigators preserve footprints made in snow, and speak about some of the limitations of DNA evidence.
While it may seem unusual to have a book event at a brewery, Weber said he’s had great crowds and a lot of fun at many previous events.
“I think everybody kind of looks at us as a bar, but we’re really a social gathering spot,” said Brent Droll, who owns the Forbidden Barrel with his wife, Cheryl. “It’s about interacting with people.”
Previous events at Forbidden Barrel have included music, belly dancing and trivia nights, and Droll said he was interested in doing more events there in the future.
“Come on out and meet him,” Droll said, encouraging people to stop by Forbidden Barrel on Thursday.