I bought a book from 'Blackwells' opposite Foyles. Sadly the shop closed ages ago but they had a fabulous medical section. I picked up for about £14 a slim paperback titled 'Time of Death, Decomposition and Identification' by Jay Dix and Michael Graham. The photographs are b&w and all taken in the morgue. Very graphic and meant as a guide to pathologists. I suspect this will be a bit of a challenge to find and more expensive.
Well, from my years as a police/crime reporter as well as my even more years involved in US Coast Guard search and rescue, and wilderness search and rescue with a local Sheirff's Dept., I can difinitively say: Depends.
Drowning: Depends on length of time in the water and whether it was in the ocean or, say, a swimming pool. Contrary to what you see on TV, drowning victims rarely float. They usually sink. They float to the surface again after decomp gases bloat their bodies and make them buoyant (~2 weeks). Their skin will be decayed and cracking, and the fish life will have been feeding on them. I've known people to get very sick from the sight. You see this in ocean and lake drowning. In swimming pool drownings, the person is usually spotted quickly. They be cold, bluish, and mottled from blood settling, depending on how long they've been dead.
Drug overdoes: Depends on the drug.
Smoke inhalation: Again, depends of the components in the smoke. House fire usually contain a lot of manmade materials in sofa, desks, tables, etc. These produce toxic fumes and smoke when burned, including a lot of cyanide. Cyanide essentially smothers the victim by preventing oxygen uptake in the red blood cells. If the fire creates a lot of carbon monoxide, which binds with the red blood cells and prevents oxygen uptake, the skin might be red (a late stage indication of CO poisoning).
In the end, you need to get much more specific about how your victims die before you can discover what their bodies would look like.
I'm wondering. Isn't this (and the other post) promotion? I don't quite see its purpose on forum.
Sorry. That got under the wrong topic. Apologies.
How is asking for crime fiction reference sites promotion? Anyway, I wrote down a few months ago that might help: Crime Scene Investigator, Zeno's Forensic site, Latent Print Examination, and Forensic Science. For other references about crime: Types of Wiretaps, Bugs and Methods, Police Writer's Association, Cops 'n Writers, Crime and Clues, Criminal Psychology, and DNA and Forensic Science Criminal Investigator.
That's okay, I.J. I was sort of wondering...