Poisoning is one of the most varied of the murder methods -- at least when it comes to fictional murder. With a killer at the end of a gun or knife or bludgeon the victim often knows who did them in. With poison, however, the victim may never know his or her assailant. A poisonous death often comes slowly over time, with a cruelty that surpasses even the most wicked of torture methods. And poisons come in myriad forms not just the top three (arsenic, strychnine, cyanide) that mystery novel addicts would call familiar. Often the most benign substances can turn deadly in the hands of a knowledgeable poisoner who is acquainted with simple biochemistry or botany or the horrors of anaphylactic shock. This month the Tuesday Night Bloggers discuss poison -- that most passive aggressive, and IMO opinion the most evil, of murder means.
Here's a sampling of some of the more nightmarish methods of poisoning I've encountered in detective fiction. In some cases I'll mention specific titles and authors, but where the murder method is intended as a surprise I'll not mention the title.
|Sinners Go Secretly (1927), the only short story|
collection with Dr. Eustace Hailey. Includes
"The Cyprian Bees" and "The Black Kitten"
If that isn't enough for you, let's wind up this macabre discussion with a simple yet enticing list:
Poison Introduced by Bizarre Means
Cat Claws - "The Black Kitten" (1927) by Anthony Wynne
Furniture - The Fangs of the Serpent (1924) by George R. Fox
The Human Bookcase Mystery (1931) by William Morton
Automobile Steering Wheel - The Shadow of Evil (1930) by Charles J Dutton
Surgery - The Nursing Home Murder (1935) by Ngaio Marsh
Cigarette Lighter - Facing East (1936) by Andrew Soutar
Jewelry - "The Toys of Death" (1938) by G. D. H. & M. Cole
Bird Beaks - "A Great Whirring of Wings" (1943) by Day Keene
Fishing Lure - Bleeding Hooks (1940) by Harriet Rutland
Musical Instrument - Death, My Darling Daughters (1945) by Jonathan Stagge