Crime writing is GP’s panacea for retirement

Dr Richard Cartmell with his publisher Sarah Williams and locals from Castor celebrating his book launch in the Royal Oak. Photo: David Lowndes
Dr Richard Cartmell with his publisher Sarah Williams and locals from Castor celebrating his book launch in the Royal Oak. Photo: David Lowndes
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A former Peterborough GP is using three decades of medical experience gained from his city patients to fuel his new passion for writing crime novels.

Wine enthusiast Dr Richard Cartmel hung up his stethoscope in 2012 and immediately turned to pursuing his ambition of becoming a professional writer.

And it was only two days after saying goodbye to the medical profession, which he had served for 32 years, that Dr Cartmel (62), found himself in Burgundy to research his new trilogy, starting with The Richebourg Affair.

The books follow the shabby Inspector Truchaud of the French police as he pursues fraudsters, murderers and gangsters over the course of a winemaking year in the vineyards of Burgundy.

He said: “After retiring I said I was going to do some proper research.

“Two days after retiring I was in Nuits-Saint-Georges having a pleasant lunch, taking pictures of the area and talking to wine-makers to make sure I got the technical stuff right.”

Dr Cartmel’s new career is a world away from his time spent as a GP at Grange Medical Centre in Mayor’s Walk, Peterborough and the Ailsworth Practice.

And, despite using his medical background as help in his writing, he has promised not to use any of his patients for his stories.

“They were good people in Peterborough and I made a lot of friends, including the patients. None of what they told me will ever come out in book form, but there are certain amounts of medical knowledge in the book, such as one person with Alzheimer’s and another who is diabetic, but this is very much peripheral.”

Aside from more than three decades in the NHS, Dr Cartmel also helped out at various events including one to celebrate the millennium in Liverpool and even drag racing at Santa Pod Raceway in Bedfordshire where he witnessed some awful injuries.

Another event was the music festival Creamfields in 2000 where he came in close contact with a famous band.

“There was me at one point standing on the edge of the stage where the Stereophonics were playing,” said Richard.

“I was looking out at a crowd of 20,000 people wondering how the hell do I get in there if I need to?

“I had an access all areas ticket and would talk to a number of performers. They were nice kids just like anybody else.

“Very few people in the crowd were drunk. It was ecstacy rather than alcohol and most people were feeling very loved up!”

Having started writing his first book, Richard found a publisher through talking to an ex-girlfriend. And seeing it come to life has allowed the Longthorpe resident to combine his passions for writing and wine, of which he is an avid collector.

“I doodled short stories at school and wrote a novel at uni which will never be published. And I did a Christmas pantomime one year on what was then Hereward Radio.

“Books were always part of my life so I knew when I retired I was going to write this story.

“I like wine - it comes from being a student in Burgundy for three months.”

*The Richebourg Affair by R.M. Cartmel is published by Crime Scene Books at £7.99.