Today’s archived post comes to us from 2007! This is what happens when a writer of murder mysteries gets bored…
Last week I attended a middle school choir concert, and as usual, I amused myself by composing a list of methods of murder. (Don’t judge–you weren’t there.) Long-time blog readers may remember a similar list compiled during the last choir concert. Alas, that list was eaten by the WordPress archive, but it gives us a chance to start anew. I feel compelled to add a disclaimer: don’t do this. It is wrong to murder other people. It is, however, amusing to THINK about murdering other people, and if you put it in a book, you will get paid for it AND you won’t go to prison.
*Defenestration: a personal favorite, both for the rhythm of the word and the finality of the method. There is a nice metaphor between shattering glass and ending a life.
*Suffocation: think “The Cask of Amontillado”. Not to be confused with…
*Smothering: pillows, stuffed animals, plastic bags.
*Garrotting: piano wire, underwire, barbed wire. The possibilities are endless.
*Blunt instrument: a distinct lack of subtlety here. Anyone can go around bashing people on the head. There is no elegance to such a crime, unless the instrument is later cooked up and served to the police a la “Lamb to the Slaughter” by Roald Dahl.
*Exsanguination: absolutely my favorite method to SAY. It sounds like something the Protestants would have fought the Catholics over, doesn’t it? I have read that it is a gentle way to die, provided the wound causing the blood loss is not too painful.
*Animal attack: by a trained animal assassin, of course. Think “The Speckled Band” or “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”. (Conversely, a faked animal attack is also an interesting twist as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle demonstrated.)
*Anaphylaxis: an acute allergic reaction brought on by bee stings, ingesting peanuts, that sort of thing. Very useful in that the villain need not actually be present at the time of the crime.
*Arranged accidents: switching medications, removing treads from a dark staircase. Care must be insured that the accident is reversed before the investigation commences.
*Exposure: might seem like a good idea, but one must take a cautionary look at Greek myths to realize how often exposure actually failed to kill unwanted princes of prophecy.
*Manual strangulation, drowning, stabbing, falls–more common methods, but not without possibilities. Manual strangulation can be accomplished with the drapery cord of a common enemy, thereby removing TWO parties at once. Drowning ought to be accomplished simply by heaving someone overboard and sailing peacefully away. Holding the victim’s head underwater is messy and potentially dangerous. Drowning men are said to possess unholy strength. Stabbing is to be avoided on the same grounds, unless a more subtle variation can be devised. One need only look as far as history and Luigi Luccheni’s assassination of Empress Elizabeth to see how it might be done. Falls may be arranged from staircases, balconies, cruise ships, but care must be taken not to become entangled with the victim on their way down.
*Foreign substances: I have read about ground glass being slipped into a victim’s food, but I have my doubts. Wouldn’t the dinner guest note the odd texture before enough had been consumed to do any real damage?
*Poisoning, burning, and shooting: another batch of common methods, difficult to get away with in these days of excellent forensic techniques and lacking in imagination.
*Psychological murder: the most insidious and diabolical of all, driving another either to murder or suicide. Difficult to prosecute, almost impossible to prove. One must be careful not to leave either incriminating letters or the victim’s diaries behind.