Thursday, February 16, 2006

Methods of Murder Anyone?

Since I'm working on a romance mystery, I've been researching forensics and murder methods. And the funny thing is that when you mention this topic to people, they tend to remember it. It's like it lingers in their mind, so that later they come back to me with all sorts of new ideas.

So let's see if this works with you too. Post your ideas on how to murder someone in the comments section and I'll pick one winner to get their choice of one of my e-books.

My initial idea to kill off my victim was to inject rubbing alcohol, bleach, or mercury into their bloodstream. I thought that injecting these things would bring on death faster than merely injesting them and I wanted household items that anyone could have access to. Then a friend mentioned that they no longer sell mercury thermometers--is this true? And maybe injecting wouldn't be visible enough.

Then I consulted my poison book on the effect of combining bleach and ammonia. Apparently this will react like an acid and do gross things to the victim, which I decided didn't work with the tone of my story.

I want a nice happy body that doesn't smell or decompose. You know, like in the old mystery shows Columbo and Murder She Wrote. But it must be obvious to an amateur that the victim was indeed murdered.

There are many other ways to kill someone, of course. The wrench, the rope, the candlestick in the ballroom with Mrs. Plum. Hmm, think those have been done before, but I'm guessing Agatha Christie has covered every conceivable method of murder. Right now I'm reading "The Murder at the Vicarage," which is the first Miss Marple mystery, I believe. And I recently read "The Mysterious Affair at Styles," the first Hercule Poirot story. Sometimes I just get in the mood for a traditional cozy: off-stage violence and justice always prevails.

If you can't think of a good murder method, feel free to post your fave mystery book or author. I'm quite partial to Elizabeth George and Anne Perry, but I've fallen behind in those series. Sigh. Too much to read, too little time. Then there's the funny mystery, like Janet Evanovich. Anyone who can make me laugh out loud several times in the same book is fine by me.

By the way (off the subject of murder), the February issue of Shara's E Zone is out now and it includes the second installment of my serial "The Man from the Moon" as well as a cute romantic couples quiz. If you'd like to subscribe, here's the link:

Okay, start posting your ideas and I'll check in with you soon.



Blogger Jennifer Y. said...

Hmm...very interesting topic. How about arsenic or antifreeze poisoning? Then there is always injecting air into the bloodstream. I have heard that air bubbles in syringes can be deadly, but could be wrong.

I have always loved mystery books, movies, and tv shows. I started with Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew, and Trixie Belden and then read some Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie mysteries. I don't read as many mystery books now though. I am also a big fan of tv shows such as "Murder She Wrote." Although, I did find it a bit unlikely that everywhere Jessica Fletcher went someone was murdered. Other mystery shows I like are "Diagnosis Murder," and now "CSI." I love seeing the mystery unfold.

I must admit that I am curious about other people's suggestions as to murder methods and you are right...I'll probably remember this and think of more later...LOL.

1:10 AM  
Blogger Mahaira said...

Interesting topic, Shara,

* 'Suicide tree' toxin (Cerbera odollam) is 'perfect' murder weapon. Although the kernels of the tree have a bitter taste, this can be disguised if they are crushed and mixed with spicy food. Doctors, Pathologists and Coroners fail to detect how often it is used to murder people.

* Death By Chocolate
Chocolate is actually toxic to all animals, but the average human being would have to eat about 20 pounds of chocolate to be affected. Large amounts of chocolate can cause the following epileptic :-
seizures, heart attacks, internal bleeding, and eventually death.


4:19 AM  
Blogger Dee said...

Mahaira, I'm glad you like me!! (You do like me, don't you?) Where can one buy or gather these kernels?

Shara, I've also been thinking about a quick way to kill someone with easy to find items. You've given me a few ideas I hadn't considered. I haven't done research though, so I'm not much help, but I'll be checking back during the day to see the answers to this interesting topic--thanks!

Is this the issue of your e-zine where you mention how great Vanessa Hart's Heart of a Soldier is? Because it is great!


8:27 AM  
Blogger Meljprincess said...

Death by Chocolate? Hmmm...what a way to go! I've always said I wanna die having sex but chocolate would do...maybe. *G*

My favorite mystery author is Shirley Rousseau Murphy. Author of the Joe Grey cat mysteries.

I'm not about to divulge my methods of killing. Then you'd know how to catch me. lol!

8:56 AM  
Blogger Sherrill Quinn said...

Well, I know the oleander tree is highly toxic--every single bit of it. One leaf is enough to cause death (causes nausea, vomiting and eventually cardiac arrest). I suppose it could be used cut up in a salad; I have no idea what it would taste like and I don't want to know. :)

9:34 AM  
Anonymous lsb author Jan Darby said...

I love it when the cause of death is unique. I was reading one mystery series and there was a fairly high body count, maybe 5 people, and every single one was unceremoniously bashed over the head. I mean, come on, don't murderers have any creativity whatsoever?

One serious suggestion: if this isn't a procedural sort of mystery, where the reader is expecting heavily documented science, you can probably take some artistic license with the cause of death, choosing something (like a scorpion's sting!) that CAN be fatal, but usually isn't, unless other circumstances exist at the same time or the victim has a particular sensitivity to the toxin. Sort of like the bleach and ammonia thing you mentioned, where it does produce a toxic gas, but in household usage wouldn't likely kill anyone unless perhaps the victim was asthmatic or his lungs were otherwise compromised.

10:14 AM  
Blogger Shara Lanel said...

Jennifer, antifreeze could work. Where does one go about getting arsenic? Is it still in rat poison?

Many mystery series have a slight element of unreality if the same detective gets caught up in it every time, but I guess that's why they're called cozies--the reader/viewer knows what to expect.


10:21 AM  
Blogger Shara Lanel said...

Mahaira, Where do you find a suicide tree? And I'd never thought about chocolate as a murder weapon (or maybe I wouldn't binge on it so much *g*). Cool idea!

Dee, Yes, this is the issue where I mention Vanessa. I also introduce S. Quinn McAfee's Disguised Enchantment.

Mel, I hadn't heard of the Joe Grey cat mysteries, but I will definitely have to tell my friend about them. She's a cat person and loves the Sneaky Pie Brown mysteries.

Sherill, I was discussing with a friend whether you cold steep certain toxic plants in a tea. I think they used this method on a recent Mystery Woman episode on Hallmark.


10:26 AM  
Blogger Vanessa Hart said...

I've always loved the leg of lamb murder. Woman deals victim a lethal blow over the head with a frozen leg of lamb, then promptly cooks it and feeds the murder weapon to the detective who comes to interrogate her. Or how about the icicle? Stab someone with one and the murder weapon "melts away" along with finger prints. *LOL*

Great topic, Shara!

Vanessa Hart

12:17 PM  
Blogger LSB Author, Darragha Foster said...

The 'leg of lamb' murder is from an old Afred Hitchcock episode, and it is my favorite method. I've picked up a large, frozen leg of lamb at the market and swung it at my husband (who saw that old ep with me) and then we have a good laugh and go neck in the canned green bean aisle (another strange shopping tradition of Mr. and Mrs. Freakazoid)

12:38 PM  
Blogger Shara Lanel said...

An icicle could definitely work. The problem with the leg of lamb is I really don't want to have my heroine actually eat it. Yuck! Reminds me of that scene in Rocky Horror where they're eating Meatloaf, the singer--not the food.


12:49 PM  
Blogger Shara Lanel said...

Darragha, Never thought about making out in the canned food aisles. In fact, the dh and I are never in the grocery store together. Maybe we're missing out!


12:51 PM  
Blogger LSB Author, Darragha Foster said...

What to yell at the movie screen during Rocky Horror when Columbia has a catharsis over the fact that Eddie is being cannabalized:

"What's the matter, Columbia? You've eaten Eddie before."

Okay...I got kicked out of a theater for climbing the curtains as I imitated Rocky climbing the RKO radio tower...

To absent friends.

1:19 PM  
Blogger Meljprincess said...

Shirley has a great site, too! Tell your friend to check it out along with her fantasy novel THE CATSWOLD PORTAL. One of the BEST books I've read.

LOL! I'm a huge Rocky Horror fan. Went every weekend *ahem* back in the late 70's.

1:43 PM  
Blogger Shara Lanel said...

Sigh. I was never that adventurous, but man it was fun! My boyfriend at the time--the computer geek--had a script with all the lines to yell out. Wish I still had it. My memory's not what it used to be--something to do with motherhood. :-0


1:44 PM  
Blogger Rae Morgan said...

Pure, concentrated nicotine is a great poison and used quite a bit by old Agatha since her little old ladies use it for killing aphids on their roses and have it handy in the potting shed. Ingested it is almost immediate and acts like a heart attack. it is colorless and odorless. It should be in your poison book.

Rae Morgan

2:27 PM  
Blogger snowflake said...

Lace their food with powdered glass. Very slow and excruciating death.

2:54 PM  
Blogger Shara Lanel said...

Ages ago when I was researching the science behind voodoo, I learned that one of the reasons grave dirt may have killed (outside of a curse) is because it could have been filled with diseases from people buried directly into the ground or in simple pine boxes. I thought that was interesting.

The ground glass angle might take a bit too long for my purposes, but it sounds perfect in another circumstance.

Can we buy concentrated nicotine? Ooh, what about steeping cigarette butts in a tea? Nasty!


3:24 PM  
Blogger Bec said...

I'd go for sparkling cyanide...just the way Agatha did.
A little cyanide in the champagne and voila! Nice happy body...except for the cramping and pain prior to death of course...And where do you get cyanide? Well as hubby is an industrial worries!

Also I've had some students who almost killed themselves by boiling up Datura lillies (growing all over the roadsides where I used to work). Of course the kids did it because Datura is supposed to be hallucinogenic...which it is...right before the convulsions start and your body spasms its way into a coma!

Fortunately my students survived. But it seems to me that Datura is both readily available and easy to sneak into someones water bottle!

5:04 PM  
Blogger Amy S. said...

You can give them a injection of the medicine they use when they put you to sleep. The ones that paralyzes you. You aren't able to move at all even your lungs and it will kill you if you aren't intrebated. Or you could just simply put air in the needle and inject it into them.

7:54 PM  
Blogger Shara Lanel said...

Excellent ideas, everyone. I'm going to post the winner in a new post.


9:22 PM  
Blogger blackroze37 -tami said...

nicotine , can od on that, poison him with what he's addicted {WEG}
otherwise my method is very slow and would be very painful [[[bigger {WEG}]]]

o some of yall might know i put my worst half in hosp about 10 yrs ago with a frying pan , he checked out against doc orders cause ppl was coming by his room laughing at the man hit up side head with frying pan

2:04 AM  

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