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Crime Fiction: The Purpose of a Post-Mortem by R.C. Bridgestock

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RG Bridgestock

RC Bridgestock

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RC Bridgestock is the name that husband and wife co-authors Robert (Bob) and Carol Bridgestock write under. Between them they have nearly 50 years of police experience, offering an authentic edge to their stories. The writing duo created the character DI Jack Dylan, a down-to- earth detective, written with warmth and humour.

As they say themselves: ‘When we put pen to paper we have one goal, to keep our readers entertained. Our books will hopefully educate our readers as well as making you laugh, cry, keep you on the edge of your seat. Our books will frighten you and sometimes make you look into the darkest corner of your heart. Our books will challenge your emotions and make you turn the page – sometimes it is easier for a reader to digest our fellow man’s inhumanity to man in fiction…’

Here, they give us the benefit of their huge experience in detailing the purpose of a post-mortem and how such a scene should be used in crime fiction:

A mortuary was never a place on my ‘wish list’ to visit but as a police investigator it was a necessary part of my role. Some senior investigators choose to delegate this task – not me. It is my view as a SIO you need to see this procedure first-hand to know what you are dealing with.

We have all no doubt heard the word post-mortem or an autopsy as the procedure is sometimes known in the various media. But what is it?

The coroner is bound by law to carry out a post-mortem when a death is deemed to be suspicious, sudden or unnatural. The coroner will also decide if an inquest is necessary.

Forensic pathologists are the experts who perform the procedure to ascertain the cause of a death. Causation is a term readily used. They will have strong medical backgrounds.

Studying the dead obviously isn’t for everyone.

The post-mortem is of paramount importance to the investigator during homicide investigations and a great catalyst in bringing the perpetrator(s) before the court.

As a young police officer attending a post-mortem for the first time was somewhat overwhelming due to what was taking place accompanied by the lingering smell. It was not an easy task to cope with. However during my thirty years experience as a police officer it was a place I would be required to visit on numerous occasions, even more so in my latter years as the S.I.O (senior investigating officer) taking charge of numerous murder investigations.

As a detective superintendent I have stood alongside some eminent pathologists as they have diligently carried out these procedures which can take hours and enquiries into multiple deaths take days. Body tapings, samples of hair cut and pulled, blood, urine samples, nail scrapings, swabs taken etc, but each case is dealt with as an individual one and location discovered may dictate other samples. I.e. soil, pollen, water.

Equipped with the knowledge of how, when, where and what caused a persons death is a great catalyst for the investigators. Understanding what type and size of weapon caused an injury, coupled with the angle of the blade used the attack is of paramount importance. Also to know whether an injury was caused prior to, during or after the death of the victim.

On occasions forensic pathologists are called to the ‘murder scene’ to examine the body in situ, before it is transferred to the mortuary for a post-mortem. This is to assist/interpret, what is likely to have taken place before the corpse is moved to the mortuary and of course if this is the ‘murder site’ or the ‘dump site”?

When the pathologist does not attend the scene the first time he or she sees the body is at the mortuary. The senior investigating officer will narrate the identity if known of the victim, also when and where found and in what circumstances.

Even when a murderer(s) are believed to have been meticulous in the planning evidence will be
be found.

Investigations are a transparent search for the truth, a post-mortem assists in proving innocence as well as guilt. When a person is charged a second post-mortem is carried out by the deference to ensure the facts are as previously discovered.

(c) RC Bridgestock


About When a Killer Strikes:

“Boss, we’ve got a body”.
Detective Sergeant Vicky Hardacre, greets him at the scene, but what awaits them behind the blood red door of Colonial House is undoubtedly a murder. The approach identifies several prime suspects. But who is telling the truth; and who is lying?
Before the killer can be caught, another body is discovered, this time in a putrefying mixture of mud and slime, lain among the remnants of decaying food within a waste-bin shelter. Now it’s the task of the man in charge to make the call.
Are the two murders connected?
There’s only one way to find out, and that’s by working long hours, within strict budgets, and the usual pressure from above to obtain quick results.
However, Dylan is distracted by personal matters, with Jen being keen to seal the deal on a renovation project. He suggests they delay finalising the purchase; until he discovers the significance of the house, and that it’s about to be demolished.
In his absence, Jen’s pleas for help from his estranged siblings are answered, resulting in hidden secrets coming to light, as Dylan continues, through a twisting and turning plot, to ensure justice is done in respect of the murder victims, whose bright hopes for the future were cruelly snatched away.

Order your copy of this and the previous books in the DI Jack Dylan series here.

The RC Bridgestock website is www.rcbridgestock.com
We also blog @ www.blog.rcbridgestock.com
Twitter @RCBridgestock
LinkedIn @ Bob Bridgestock
Facebook RC Bridgestock

About the author

Bob Bridgestock was a highly commended career detective of 30 years, retiring at the rank of Detective Superintendent. During his last three years he took charge of 26 murders, 23 major incidents, over 50 suspicious deaths and numerous sexual assaults. He was also a trained hostage negotiator dealing with suicide interventions, kidnap, terrorism and extortion.
As a Detective Inspector he spent three years at the internationally acclaimed West Yorkshire Police Force Training School where he taught Detectives from all over the world in the whole spectrum of investigative skills and the law. On promotion to Detective Superintendent Bob was seconded to a protracted enquiry investigating alleged police corruption in another force. He worked on the Yorkshire Ripper and Sarah Harper murder, and received praise from Crown Court Judges and Chief Constables alike for outstanding work at all ranks, including winning the much coveted Dennis Hoban Trophy.
As a police civilian supervisor Carol Brisgestock also received a Chief Constable’s commendation for outstanding work.
The couple are the storyline consultants on BAFTA winning BBC One police drama Happy Valley and series 3 of ITV’s Scott & Bailey. Carol started and chaired the Wight Fair Writers’ Circle in 2008, along with Bob where she created an annual charitable community writing competition to inspire others of all ages.
The couple pride themselves on being up-to- date on past and present day UK police procedures, and as a result Bob is regularly sought by UK television, radio and national and local newspapers for comment on developing major crime incidents etc. And they have taken part in Radio 4 (Steve) PUNT P.I.
Together they can be regularly seen as speakers at a variety of events in the literary world and work with colleges and schools in providing writing seminars and workshops. Three RC Bridgestock trophies are annually achieved by students.

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