It’s a strange life being the author of suspense/thriller novels. Since most of my plots involve murder and mayhem, I find myself constantly thinking and googling all sorts of grisly things. My husband often jokes that there’s probably a file at the FBI with my name on it containing my Google search history. I’ve looked up “poisons that are undetectable”, “killing someone with a vacuum cleaner cord”, and “how much is a murder for hire?” These are just a smattering of the murderous factoids I’ve accumulated since I became a mystery writer. I’m fairly certain that after all my research, I probably could kill someone and get away with it. Fortunately for the public at large, I have no desire to do that. But I do have this newfound annoying habit of looking at everything as a potential weapon or crime scene.
Lethal items lurk everywhere. Things that most people think are innocuous, like a pen, a plain old ball point pen for writing out holiday messages or thank-you notes is really a deadly weapon in disguise. That very same pen jammed into someone’s jugular would be fatal. Opening a kitchen drawer, others see potato peelers, knives and can openers. I see a serial killer’s toolbox.
It’s not only household items, it’s locations, too. A beautiful glistening yet remote lake becomes the perfect place for an unexpected drowning, a woodsy hiking trail ideal for a bludgeoning, and an empty city street at night the backdrop for a quick shiv into the side of a stranger.
While taking a tour of Florida sugar cane farms, I commented to my husband how one could take a sugarcane stalk (which are quite thick and heavy) beat someone over the head with it and then neatly push the body into the irrigation ditch beside the rows of sugarcane. I thought I had been discreet with my comments but based on the terrified look of a woman in the group, I guess I hadn’t whispered as softly as I had thought.
Recently our apartment building, the grounds and the parking lot had security cameras installed so that the images could be seen by our doorman from the front desk. Entering our building with my husband one night, I asked the doorman, if there were cameras everywhere on the property.
“Yes,” he said, “well, almost everywhere, except by the pool and barbecue area.”
“Oh,” I said more interested with a deadly serious face, “so technically, a person could strangle someone by the barbecue and you’d have no record of it? No video whatsoever?”
A look of confusion and I think fear crossed the man’s face. My husband jumped in. “She’s a mystery writer, don’t pay any attention to her. She always does this.” The doorman sighed with relief. As we walked to the elevator my husband turned to me and said, “You’ve got to stop doing this, you’re scaring people.”
“Okay,” I mumbled. When I opened our apartment door, I made a beeline for a bottle of cabernet. I placed the wine on the counter and reached for a corkscrew. “You know,” I said to my husband while holding up the corkscrew, “I’ll bet you could easily pop someone’s eye out with this.”