How to Find People

(and Not Just When You Want to Give Them a Carving of a Jade Dragon Left by Their Dead Relative)

I just started a new book. Here's what's happened so far: A lone stranger with a suitcase comes into town and before boarding his Greyhound bus, stops at a small-town shop. The shop owner reads his cards and sees death. He walks out of her shop, leaving his business card, crosses the street and gets hit by a speeding hit-and-run driver. In his hand he is holding an antique hand-carved figurine of a jade dragon. Before he dies, he whispers a few words, which she thinks express his desire for her to keep the dragon. I think he was trying to tell her not to keep it, that it brings death or something, but for now ... That's not the point.

The shopkeeper wants to find the dead man's family and give them the valuable carving. Now, this is where I start getting frustrated: she doesn't know a thing about how to find people. She has his business card, which means she knows his full name and address, even phone number! All she needs to do is input that information at the People Searches site, and she would have known a little more about this mystery man and his family and home. She would have found out his relatives' phone number and called one or all of them, and told them about the accident and the jade dragon.

More importantly, she would have learned about this amazing online tool that can find people ... but she didn't. If she did, she would have found out the man didn't have any family, and kept the carving until she wished she hadn't. She did eventually find out from the police that the man had no family, but ... Well, what do I want from the people who call the local store to find out if they have another telescope in stock - okay, her daughter broke her telescope, if you must know - instead of ordering one online! I guess patience is a virtue.