Monday, March 3, 2008

How Shall I Kill Thee?
Let Me Count the Ways

If you're tired of death by bullets (and I still like a good Glock 9mm to do the trick), there are lots of other options. You might consider the more high-tech thallium or stick to the old-fashioned, but still effective, stiletto.

Murder can be accomplished in lots of ways. Personally, I'm intrigued by spontaneous human combustion. Years ago I read a great Scottish mystery where the victim dies ostensibly under those circumstances. Of course the killer has manipulated the situation so that it appears that the body burned of its own accord. I wish I could remember the author or title. Help please??

Since Evelyn David knocked off her first victim, we've gotten quite adept at new and interesting ways to commit murder. Should it trouble me that my favorite bedtime reading is Murder and Mayhem: A Doctor Answers Medical and Forensic Questions for Mystery Writers (D.P. Lyle, M.D., St. Martin's Minotaur, 2003)? On the other hand, I'm a firm believer in the 50-page rule. Somebody's got to be dead in the first 50 pages or generally speaking, I've moved on. Heck, in Murder Off the Books and the forthcoming sequel, Murder Takes the Cake, somebody dies in the first paragraph. Now that's how to get the show on the road!

I enjoy, probably more than I should, discovering new ways to commit murder. But here's a word to the wise. Remember that your Internet research is fair game for the prosecution should you decide to use your murder skills in real life (elimination of the spouse who leaves dirty clothes on the floor or the neighbor with the windchimes on the porch). I came across a news story recently about a woman who was on trial for murdering her husband. Chief among the evidence arrayed against her were her Google searches for "instant poisons", "undetectable poisons", and "fatal digoxin doses." And then apparently the coup de grace was her search for "how to commit murder."

Sometimes you don't really want to kill – just maim slightly. A wound that permits your injured hero or heroine to still be healthy enough to foil the bad guys. I spent hours trying to find a gunshot wound that wouldn't require major surgery so that one of our characters could be released from the hospital within six hours. Of course, when I was writing that scene, I had other worries. Even with the correct wound, who could guess how long the hero would sit in the Emergency Room waiting to see a doctor?

But then I remembered – this is fiction. I can move our hero to the front of the line, have him see a brilliant doctor with a wonderful bedside manner without filling out 30 pages of financial information, and get his bullet wound repaired with a liberal application of Crazy Glue.

Okay, I know. Fiction does have limits and your plot has to be believable. Some of what I just wrote will have to be deleted; probably everything except the bit about the Crazy Glue.

Evelyn David

http://www.evelyndavid.com/

2 comments:

  1. What is it about seemingly mild-mannered suburban women like ourselves that we think about these things all day long? I, myself, enjoyed the dismemberment MO in Extracurricular Activities, so much so that I had to delete a few dismembered corpses lest the story seem completely unbelievable. I'll have to consider the stiletto option...

    Maggie

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  2. I'm like you, I want the victim to show up as soon as possible and preferably in the first 50 pages. After that I have to have a darned good reason to keep reading. Such as the book is for a group discussion or because the author is a friend. Plus lets face it we've spent hard earned money for that book which is a good motivator to read on! Glenda

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