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Policing and detection in Inspector Ryga's world in the 1950s

Death in the Nets by Pauline RowsonDEATH IN THE NETS is the third in the Inspector Ryga 1950s set mystery series, published on 4 October 2021 in paperback, as an e book and on Amazon Kindle. It is set in the fishing port of Brixham, Devon where Scotland Yard's Inspector Ryga investigates the death of a man discovered tangled in fishing nets in the harbour.

DEATH IN THE COVE is the first in the Inspector Ryga 1950s set mystery series, set on the Royal Island of Portland, Dorset with DEATH IN THE HARBOUR number two, set in the port of Newhaven, East Sussex..

The 1950s is a fascinating period where memories of the war are very strong, and the fear of more world conflicts haunt people. Society and policing in the 1950s was vastly different to today, no mobile phones, no dashing about in high speed cars and no computers so it was extremely interesting to research and write.

Read about Scotland Yard's Murder Squad, crime scenes, analysts and the Murder Bag/Case.

Scotland Yard and the Murder Squad

Scotland Yard were frequently called in to investigate murder cases around the UK so rather than have the novel (and series) rooted in London this meant I could move my detective around the country to help solve crimes. At a moment’s notice detectives could be on a train heading towards a town, city or village where a crime had been committed that the local forces needed assistance with. This elite unit from Scotland Yard was created in 1907 by Home Secretary, Herbert Gladstone, and became known as the Murder Squad.

In my novels Inspector Ryga is part of the Murder Squad but I have played around with this fact by sending Ryga out alone rather than with an assistant on his criminal investigations.  In his first he is called out to the Royal Island of Portland in Dorset where he teams up with former war photographer, Eva Paisley who also joins him in subsequent investigations in Newhaven, east Sussex, in DEATH IN THE HARBOUR, in Brixham, Devon, in DEATH IN THE NETS and in Hythe, Kent in the soon to be published DEATH IN THE DUNES. Eva takes on the role of confidante and photographer taking pictures of the crime scenes and victims, utilizing the camera lens as her 'third eye' in helping Ryga to solve the crimes.

I also wanted to feature the sea in my crime novels - my trademark or brand if you like - so I Inspector Ryga is a former Merchant Seaman, and all the crimes he is sent to investigate are around the coast of Britain.

Crime Scenes, photographers, analysts and laboratories

In 1950 it was common practice for the police themselves to take photographs of the victim. Civilian photographers weren’t introduced until 1955 and then not in all places. So Ryga and Eva are trail blazers!

There were no specialist crime scene officers. CSI Specialists were introduced in 1968, although some forces had them before that time.

The Metropolitan Police Forensic Science Laboratory was set up in 1934 and there were small police laboratories in Cardiff, Bristol and Nottingham while in other places scientific support for police prosecutions was little used and consultants were called in on an ad hoc basis. These were usually public analysts. A Birmingham laboratory was established in 1938. The Metropolitan Police Laboratory was moved from Hendon to New Scotland Yard by 1949. And in 1950 Home Office Analysts were still being used until their role died out in 1954 when their work was taken over by the laboratories.

The Murder Bag/Case

In 1950, Inspector Ryga would take with him his Murder Bag. This was developed by Pathologist, Bernard Spilsbury (later Sir Bernard Spilsbury), who, after the 1924 high profile Mahon/Kaye case when he found detectives handling the dismembered remains of Emily Kaye (murdered by Mahon) with their bare hands expressed the view that police officers should wear gloves to save them being exposed to infection.. His concern inspired the introduction of the Murder Bag/Case.

In the Murder Case, Ryga has rubber gloves, a magnifying glass, a tape measure, a ruler, swabs, sample bags, forceps, scissors, a scalpel, and other instruments. The Murder Bag remained in use until Crime Scene Investigators were introduced in 1968.

The 1950s was a very different time and way of policing from today and a joy to research and write about.

The Inspector Ryga Mysteries

Death in the Cove an Inspector Alun Ryga MysteryDEATH IN THE COVE is Inspector Ryga's first solo investigation outside of London, where he is despatched to solve the mystery of why a man in a pin-striped suit is found murdered in an isolated cove on the Royal Island of Portland in Dorset. Here he meets war photographer, Eva Paisley, for the first time. Ryga quickly realises that her observations could provide the breakthrough he needs in a complex murder investigation and the answer to the haunting circumstances that have sent the man in the pinstriped suit to his death.

Death in the Harbour by Pauline RowsonThe second Inspector Ryga mystery, DEATH IN THE HARBOUR is set in the port of Newhaven, East Sussex where Ryga has to solve a puzzling and disturbing case of why an ordinary police constable was murdered and his sensible law-abiding wife has gone missing.

Death in the Nets by Pauline RowsonNumber three in the Inspector Ryga series DEATH IN THE NETS is set in the small fishing town of Brixham, Devon. It's a cold wet January night in 1951, the body of a man stabbed through the heart, is found tangled up in fishing nets in Brixham Harbour, Devon. After a series of startling revelations, Ryga is tasked to discover why the dead man who left the town eleven years ago has returned and why someone hated him enough to murder him.

The Inspector Ryga mysteries are published in paperback, ebook, Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Google Books and Apple Books.

DEATH IN THE COVE and DEATH IN THE HARBOUR are also available as audio books on Audible, and from B7 Media, narrated by Jonathan Rhodes.

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OCTOBER 8TH, 2021 @ 6:07:45 BST

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