Friday, 13 December 2013

Familiarise Friday...It's Catriona King and her brand new release THE BROKEN SHORE

It's Familiarise Friday again and I extend a huge welcome to fellow Crooked Cat author, Catriona King. 

It's a very, very special day for her since today is the launch day of the fifth novel in her D.C.I. Craig detective series set in Belfast, Ireland. 

I've so far only managed to read the first of the series and loved it, though I've been taking advantage of the Crooked Cat sale to stock up on the others on my kindle! 

There are so many excellent Crooked Cat books to read!
Congratulations Catriona, it's a major achievement to have had five novels published in such a very short time.

Right now, 13th December, Catriona is celebrating on FaceBook. Why not join the party?

It's not Catriona's first visit to my blog, but it's been a while since she came to share something with me.

So over to Catriona..
Crime-writing doctors. A prescription for murder?

Thank you for inviting me to guest on your blog today, Nancy. When you invited me I wondered what to write about, then I finally decided on two things that I know a little about as a doctor who writes crime novels; crime-writing and medicine.
When you analyse crime-writing and medicine they’re remarkably similar. How? Well…for one thing many doctors write crime novels or thrillers; Michael Crichton and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to name just two. It is well known that Sherlock Holmes, Conan Doyle’s famous fictional creation, used his powers of observation to make informed deduction. 
Wikimedia Commons
He was modelled on Dr Joseph Bell, Conan Doyle’s former physician-mentor who used the power of observation to deduce mundane things like occupation and recent activity in patients.  

But how else are crime-writing and medicine similar? 

Well, all doctors learn about forensics during their medical student days, attending lectures, gawping horrified at the exhibits in the forensic museum, meeting with police officers to learn what detail they expect from good witness statements; something every doctor has to deal with from the day they qualify, when victims of crime attend A&E or in General Practice. 

The doctor’s next involvement in crime is often as an expert witness, testifying in court. Or perhaps they do the training as a Forensic Medical Examiner, gathering specimens and learning about the chain of evidence, examining prisoners or victims of crime and seeing at first hand the work the police and crime scene investigators do. 

That is the level of my experience in forensic medicine, but some doctors opt to go further, studying forensics in more depth, or even undergoing lengthy training as a pathologist, like John Winter in the Craig Thriller Series. Pathologists may carry out port-mortem examinations and identify the cause of death. In all of these areas medicine and policing work hand in hand, but there’s another area where doctors’ and detectives’ work has similarities. Diagnosis. In essence, the clues to making a medical diagnosis lie in careful understanding of the patient’s story and observation of the physical clues.    

Every time a patient walks through their doctor’s door they present a puzzle to be solved. The puzzle of what is making them ill. Sometimes it’s very obvious, but more often than not it requires the doctor to piece together a series of clues, just as a detective gathers clues from the scene of a crime.
A doctor’s clues come from the patient’s story of their illness, elicited by  asking questions such as how long has the illness lasted, have they recently travelled abroad or do they drink or smoke?.  More clues come from their symptoms, such as feeling feverish or having a cough and finally from the doctor’s examination, listening to hearts and chests with their stethoscope or feeling for a pulse, then tests, sending blood away, ordering X-rays and other tests. All of these finally provide an answer; the cause of the patient’s illness and how it has made them ill.

Consider then the work of a detective scrutinising the scene of crime, the objects taken or the body left behind. Examining the prints, fibres and video footage and finally testing for DNA, matching  fingerprints  and using post-mortem results to find the answer; a cause of death for the victim and how the crime was committed, leading to the person who caused it and their arrest. 
Naming a criminal and naming an illness is all a matter of following the trail of clues that the crime or illness leave behind. Both require enquiry and an eye for detail, so perhaps that explains why doctors often write about crime?

Thank you for such an interesting post, Catriona! I'm not sure why so many doctors write crime novels but I certainly hope they are only involved AFTER the crime...if you know what I mean. 
(At any Crooked Cat get together that we both atttend, I might sit far away from you ...just in case...of course, I'm just kidding!)

Catriona King trained as a Doctor and Police Forensic Medical Examiner in London. She worked closely with the Metropolitan Police on many occasions. In recent years, she has returned to live in Belfast.
She has written since childhood: fiction, fact and news reporting. A Limited Justice was her first novel – and the 1st in Belfast’s Modern Thriller series – and follows DCI Marc Craig and his team through the streets of Belfast in the hunt for the murderer of three people.
She currently works on the fifth in the series as well as a novel set in New York.

Have a fantastic launch day, Catriona, and the very best wishes to you for your series. 


1 comment:

  1. Hi Catriona! I agree entirely with your reasoning as to why doctors are so proficient at writing crime. I wish you every success with your newest release.


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