The storyline for the novel I’m currently writing calls for one of the characters to be murdered. Simple enough! Shoot or stab the person, or use a dozen other ways to kill off the character. But that didn’t fit with the storyline. It was important that the killer not leave ANY blood at the crime scene, ESPECIALLY the victim’s! So what method would I use to accomplish that?
My research led me to some interesting ideas on how to construct a bloodless murder scene, and I’d like to share a few of those with my fellow crime fiction writers. 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 you cause a build-up of blood and brain compression. That’s called an epidural hemorrhage. It’s very effective and without external blood loss. Death will follow if the pressure from the blood is not relieved in a relatively short amount of time after the trauma.
The Russian Omelet – Cross the legs of your enemy and pin him to the ground chest down. Then push the legs up toward his 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 can fuel the imagination.
An Insulin Overdose – Insulin is the hormone secreted from our pancreas whenever we consume sugary or starchy foods. It transports blood glucose into our cells so that it can be used as fuel. Too much insulin causes low blood sugar and this leads to a variety of symptoms (shaking, sweating, blurred vision, seizures and coma) before 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. Additionally, there are products that kill in the same way as CO. In a murder scene I wrote recently, I used an organic solvent that preferentially binds to hemoglobin instead of oxygen, creating the same effect as CO. It proved to me once again that there’s no substitute for good research when writing creative, interesting murder scenes.
Ethylene Glycol – This is the main component of antifreeze. It’s colorless, odorless, sweet tasting and it’s easy to add to most any food or drink. It rapidly absorbs in our GI tracts and it 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 the shot INSTEAD 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 it deprives the brain of oxygen. It can also fatally compress the larynx and/or trachea to prevent air intake.
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 recently blogged about what drug makes the perfect murder weapon and will talk more about that in future blogs.
The Adam’s Apple Crush – This is a hit to the larynx and a prime strike point to cause death if you connect dead center and with substantial force. It makes a great kill scene for those Special Forces type characters. 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 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!