Today on Life Of A Nerdish Mum I have an extremely interesting guest post from Cheryl Rees-Price as part of the Frozen Minds blog tour, so without further ado, I'll hand straight over to Cheryl.
WEAPONS AND POISONS
WEAPONS AND POISONS
One of the grisly aspects of crime writing is researching methods to kill off your characters. I tend to have a dark sense of humour so the more unusual or ridiculous the weapon the more appealing. Saying that, I’m also squeamish so I try to avoid the violent and gory end.
When choosing a method a lot depends on the character and circumstances. If it is a spur of the moment act then it will be the first thing to hand. If it’s a planned revenge then there is more scope to find a method fitting for the character’s demise.
My research has turned up some bizarre methods most of which are true life crimes. The umbrella murders being among the most well-known. One made use of a micro engineered pellet containing ricin which was fired into the leg with the umbrella, the second used an injection of mercury attached to the umbrella. The umbrella is not the only innocent item to have be used in a crime. A corkscrew (ouch!), Xbox, prosthetic leg, breasts, and a desert spoon to name a few. This demonstrates that almost anything can be used as a murder weapon.
When it comes to poisons there are also many options and variations. Most medicines when taken in small doses are fine but larger quantities can be fatal. The amount of poison needed to be fatal depends on the person’s weight and general well-being. Not all poisons kill instantly. Ricin for example, it’s said, can kill up to 36,000 people with 1 gram yet in the only recorded case in Britain it took the victim four days to die. This gives a greater opportunity in fiction writing for increasing the number of suspects. The longer the time period the more people and places the victim could have come into contact with.
Poisons can be given in small doses over a length of time or in a fatal dose. When using poisons in fiction writing it’s important to consider the availability, effectiveness, and detectability. Nicotine, for example, is widely available, it can be bought over the counter or extracted in liquid form. (I won’t give details on how to do that!) It can be absorbed through the skin, inhaled or injected. A lethal dose is 40 to 60 mg’s and death can occur instantly. The downside is it is easily detectable in a PM.
Plants and fungi are another source of available poisons. (If you know where to look) Destroying Angel and Death Cap are among the most deadly fungi. Ingesting only three of one of these could prove fatal. These poisons can be slow acting and even fool the victim into thinking they are making a recovery only to be hit with renal failure a few days later, nasty! Plants such as Wolfs bane have both poisonous leaves and roots, it only takes 1mg to be lethal. This is one of the oldest poisons, well known to the ancient Greeks.
The problem for our fictional detective is proving beyond any reasonable doubt that the person accused actually administered the poison. That the victim actually died from the poisoning and the accused intended to kill the victim. This can be quite tricky.
I now have a catalogue of weapons and poisons. I’m just waiting for the next deserving character (fictional of course!).
Thank you so much to Cheryl for this fascinating (if slightly terrifying) guest post. I'm definitely looking forward to reading which method Cheryl decides to use next!
When a man is found murdered at Bethesda House, a home for adults with learning difficulties, local people start to accuse the home's residents of being behind the killing. The victim was a manager at the home, and seemingly a respectable and well-liked family man. DI Winter Meadows knows there's more to the case than meets the eye. As he and his team investigate, Meadows discovers a culture of fear at the home - and some unscrupulous dealings going on between the staff. Does the answer to the case lie in the relationships between the staff and the residents - or is there something even more sinister afoot?