ln his long police career, Bob Bridgestock spent his days, and many nights too, dealing with true crimes - murders, suspicious deaths, sexual assaults, drug busts - in Calderdale and Kirklees.
During 30 years of service, he policed a string of distressing, horrific and high profile cases.
Bob may now have retired to the relative peace and quiet of the Isle of Wight, but he hasn’t completely escaped the world of crime; it’s just that these days the grisly and gripping cases he is involved with belong in the works of fiction he writes with his wife, Carol.
As the crime fiction duo RC Bridgestock, Bob and Carol have just published their third novel, ‘White Lilies’ and have also been working with acclaimed scriptwriter Sally Wainwright on a new series, ‘Happy Valley’, for the BBC.
They recently visited St Joseph’s RC Primary School, Brighouse - where their seven-year-old grand-daughter Hermione Bridgestock is a pupil - to talk to the children and encourage their writing ambitions. There was even time for a warning from the former top-ranking detective with West Yorkshire Police about the dangers of bullying.
After a career dealing with the most savage and brutal instincts of human nature, he is enjoying the surprising turn that his life has taken since he retired at 51 - the school visits, the book signings, the promotion, all of it.
“We went to the Isle of Wight because I had quite a recognisable face around here and we wanted a break,” said Bob. “Carol had been a police support officer and we thought it was time for a complete change.”
Though he had never been a keen reader, Bob decided to embark on a writing course at college in 2008 - and signed Carol up too. The result was their first novel, ‘Deadly Focus’.
“I’m one of those people who watch TV crime dramas in frustration because so often the police procedures are all wrong. I’m sitting there saying, ‘That would never happen!’ I’m not just talking about Midsomer Murders - it happened in Broadchurch too.
“At least in our books I try to make sure the police procedure is correct. Coming up with the plots is not a problem - though our books are works of fiction and DI Dylan is an invented character, I have this vast reservoir of knowledge to draw on to ensure they are authentic in tone and observation.”
That first-hand knowledge includes working on the notorious Sarah Harper case - the little girl who went out to buy a loaf of bread and never returned - the Yorkshire Ripper enquiry, the murder of have-a-go hero Kevin Jackson in Halifax and the horrific arson attack on a house in Huddersfield which caused the deaths of three generations of the Christi family.
He became a hostage negotiator, worked in suicide intervention and won numerous commendations for his diligent police work. Throughout it all he relied on good old-fashioned Yorkshire common sense and his sense of humour to get him through but after 30 years he’d had enough and felt burnt out.
Now he is enjoying police work with a renewed relish - this time coming up with the plots for the books he co-writes with Carol.
Carol said: “Bob tends to sit down and write the plotlines out from start to finish. It’s down to me to flesh out the characters. I always knew Bob could tell a good story because of the way he talked about his experiences in the force. I nagged him to write them down but I didn’t think he was taking any notice until he completely surprised me by enrolling on a writing course.”
Carol now chairs a writing group and promotes writing competions for all ages. She is particularly passionate about encouraging reading and writing in children.
“The literary world was totally foreign to us,” said Bob. “There has been an element of serendipity in all this but it’s very humbling when people say they’ve enjoyed our books and give us positive feedback.
“We’re both very proud to come from Yorkshire and to return here with our books.
“At the end of the day human nature is a fascinating subject and people are interested in crime stories.”
l ‘White Lilies’ is published by Caffeine Nights Publishing. Bob and Carol are now visiting book shops in West Yorkshire.