The storylines of the novels I write often call for one or more of the characters to be murdered. That’s simple enough when you write murder mysteries—you shoot or stab the person, or use a dozen other ways to kill off the character!
Since my writing theme is MURDER, MAYHEM and MEDICINE, however, most of the lethal methods I use involve drugs, poisons or other chemicals. In fact, my current work in process is titled The Serial Chemist—no other explanation needed.
There was a plot I once used where it was important that the killer not leave ANY blood at the crime scene, ESPECIALLY the victim’s! So, the question I had to answer before writing was, “What method do I use to accomplish that?”
My research led me to some interesting ideas on how to construct bloodless murder scenes, and I’d like to share a few of those with you in case you have such plot ideas in mind for your next novel or short story.
The following is a list of the more interesting and believable ways to accomplish this task:
The Temple Blow – The skull is thin there and the temple bone shatters easily. More importantly, the middle meningeal artery is located there. Rupture that and it causes a build-up of blood and brain compression—and this is known as an epidural hemorrhage. Death will follow if the pressure from the blood is not relieved in a relatively short amount of time.
The Russian Omelet – Cross the legs of the victim and pin him or her to the ground chest down. Push the legs up toward the person’s back and sit on them to fold and break the base of the spine. It’s usually fatal. The killer, however, should be of “substantial” weight to make this a believable kill method.
An Airborne Toxin Release – There are any number of good choices, from a viral toxin to a lethal poison. A simple Internet search will fuel the imagination, or you can scan some of my previous blogs since I’ve written numerous ones over the years on those subjects.
An Insulin Overdose – Insulin is the hormone secreted from the pancreas whenever sugary or starchy foods are consumed. Insulin transports blood glucose into the body’s cells so they can be used as fuel. Too much insulin, however, causes low blood sugar and can lead to a variety of symptoms (shaking, sweating, blurred vision, seizures and coma) before certain death. Describe the symptoms properly and you’ve got a great murder scene.
Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning – It’s a simple way to kill, but not very imaginative. Lock someone in a garage with a car running and soon the carbon monoxide build-up will kill because it replaces the oxygen in blood.
Toxins That React with Blood to Replace Oxygen – There are other products on the market that kill in the same way as CO. In a murder scene that I wrote for one of my novels, I used the strong fumes of an organic solvent (a paint remover) that preferentially bonded to hemoglobin instead of oxygen. It proved to me once again that there’s no substitute for good research when writing creative, interesting murder scenes with unique murder weapons.
Ethylene Glycol – This is the main component of antifreeze. It’s colorless, odorless, sweet tasting and is easy to add to most any food or drink. It rapidly absorbs in the GI tract and distributes throughout the body, creating a variety of toxic effects. The initial symptoms mimic a drunken state, but kidney failure usually causes death. Interestingly, alcohol is the antidote of choice. Maybe the KILLER should down a shot of whiskey to celebrate a good kill!
Strangulation – A dramatic death for sure, but it’s been used A LOT. It causes death in one of two ways: compression of the carotid arteries and/or the jugular veins, and this deprives the brain of oxygen. It can also fatally compress the larynx and/or trachea to prevent air intake to suffocate the victim.
A Fatal Drug Dose – Any number of drugs (both legal and illegal) could be used, but the most rapid effects are gained if the drug is injected. I’ve blogged in the past about what drug makes the perfect murder weapon. I’ve also blogged in the past on a few other potentially lethal drugs, and I’ll certainly introduce more in future blogs.
The Adam’s Apple Crush – This is a hit to the larynx and a prime strike point to cause death if the attacker connects dead center and with substantial force. It makes a great kill scene for those attackers with a martial arts background. The knuckle punch or a strategic kick closes the airway and denies the ability to draw in air. Oxygen deprivation results in death.
These are just a few of the more interesting bloodless murder methods to add to your crime research. I’m sure you’ve come across others. Want to share them with us?
Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!