Deadly Focus: A FORMER top West Yorkshire, English detective who took charge of the investigation into 26 murders in just three years of his thirty-year career, and his wife – a retired police civilian worker are having their first crime novel published.
Deadly Focus is the first in the RC Bridgestock series and will be out in paperback an e-book in May 2011. The second book, Consequences, will follow this summer.
One-time Senior Investigating Officer and retired detective superintendent Bob Bridgestock and Carol Bridgestock have harnessed their 45 years of police service to write the crime fiction series.
The book, set in the imaginary town of Harrowfield, centres on the hunt for a young girl called Daisy Charlotte Hind who vanishes without a trace as she goes to show her grandmother her bridesmaid’s dress.
How autobiographical the experience of lead character SIO Jack Dylan is, as he confronts his worst nightmare when Daisy’s body is discovered and another child goes missing, is not clear.
But the knowledge of how serial killer investigations are carried out and how they affect the principal characters has the ring of authenticity.
Dylan is attacked on the job and finds his health under increasing strain as he struggles to find a balance between his passion for his job and his love for his partner Jen. Will he be able to catch the killer and secure justice for the victim’s families?
West Yorkshire born Bob, 59, retired to the Isle of Wight with Carol five years ago after 30 years service, all but two as a detective.
The ex-Morley Grammar School pupil had worked on the horrific abduction murder of Morley schoolgirl Sarah Harper and later headed many high-profile cases including the house fire in Birkby, Huddersfield in 2002 which killed eight members of one family. He also worked for a short time as a young detective on the Yorkshire Ripper murders. He was for five years a skilled hostage situation negotiator, successfully diffusing deadly situations.
“My police service was an incredible experience, which helped me to prepare for most things that life throws at you. In every walk of life, it’s the people who make the workplace an enjoyable environment, and Carol and I both miss the banter and our friends,” he said.
But he recalled, “A previous SIO once told me that three years in the role was saturation point and after five I knew he was right. In my final three, I dealt with 26 murders and 23 major incidents including shootings and attempted murders, plus more than 50 suspicious deaths – many in Leeds – and numerous serious sexual assaults. So the truth is it was time to go before my whole being was taken over.”
“The smell of the mortuary has now cleared from my nostrils and I have found the freedom that retirement offers – no pagers or phones to disturb our sleep or incidents dictating days off,” he said.
After cajoling from friends and family who enjoyed the police anecdotes, the couple made a life-changing decision and enrolled in a Write Your First Novel course.
Bob managed to turn out 120,000 words in six weeks – in longhand – in his own conversational style of writing.
Bob explained: “Deadly Focus is a detective novel and we cannot deny we have drawn on our extensive knowledge of police work.”
Carol said: “You’ve probably heard the saying, ‘there’s a book in everyone and for years, Bob has had people both laughing and crying with all the tales he has told. But whenever anybody said he should write a novel, he always said no, so you can imagine my surprise when he enrolled us on the writing course.”
Now they work as co-authors under the name R C Bridgestock.
” We thought it added to the conspiracy by making it look like it was one author. Bob writes the structure of the story and I write the emotional side of it and ‘craft’ his work for him. It works really well for us and we have both really enjoyed writing Deadly Focus and are now working on book 5.”
Carol said: “Our family and friends have all been involved and they are all intrigued by the books. But very few people have read the finished pieces and we want to keep it that way until they hit the shops. It all adds to the mystery.”
Talking of his move down south after retiring, Bob said, “We were asked ‘Why the Isle of Wight?’ Carol once took me to visit her childhood home on the south coast from where, across the Solent, I saw the Isle of Wight. Sitting on the spit head at Hurst Castle she told me of her young childhood dreams about the island and we decided to visit.”
“Neither of us has any doubts it is the place for us. Lovely countryside, nearby beaches, fresh air – the list is endless. The pace of life is idyllic and crime is low – utopia for a retired policeman.”
“We kept very busy for the first couple of years by renovating our home plus walking our golden retriever along the beaches and through the woods. We also bought a Springer spaniel and she had five pups. It took a while to realise that this was now our life.
“We consider ourselves to be very fortunate,” Carol said.