Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wednesday Whine & Wine with JL Merrow

What's Your Poison?
 Hi, I'm JL Merrow, and I'm delighted to be here today as part of the Relief Valve Blog Tour.
When I ask, what’s your poison? I’m not offering you a drink, despite it being Whine & Wine Wednesday (sorry about that!)  No, today I’m talking about toxins, babbling about banes, and getting all verbose about venoms.

There are undeniable advantages to making poison your murder weapon of choice. (Disclaimer: the author does not condone murder in any way, shape or form. No, not even of the really deserving, like people who insist on talking to you when you’re trying to read.) Bludgeoning, shooting and stabbing have their attractions, it’s true, but they all involve relatively close contact with the victim, not to mention that bloodstains never really wash out, do they?
Poison, on the other hand, often involves the minimum of inconvenience and mess. Is your aged (and well-heeled, obviously) auntie stubbornly refusing to pop her orthopedic clogs and leave you all her loot? Simply administer the toxin, say in a nice glass of sherry, and stand well clear. (If you have administered a toxin such as xylene, which causes projectile vomiting, it’s probably best to stand very well clear.)
The would-be poisoner is spoilt for choice—in fact, considering the immense variety of toxic substances in our environment, it’s a wonder any of us ever reach adulthood. A simple walk in the countryside (depending on season) should provide you with foxgloves, deadly nightshade, toadstools, mistletoe—or you could simply pop along to your parish church. Yew, with its poisonous red berries, is often found in graveyards, presumably to streamline the process of ushering the faithful from life to death.
And we haven’t even considered heavy metals, pesticides, or pharmaceuticals. Truly, the poisoner’s cup runneth over (you might want to be careful mopping up any spills).
History tells us of many famous poisoners: the Borgias (arsenic); Catherine de Medici (also arsenic), Dr Crippen (scopolamine), and Mary Ann Cotton (arsenic again; was there a special offer on the stuff?). St Albans, where Tom Paretski and Phil Morrison of Pressure Head and Relief Valve live, even produced its own famous poisoner in the 1960s, Graham Young (thallium). And these, of course, were just the ones who got caught…

So why isn’t everyone at it? Well, for one thing, dangerous substances are a lot more tightly controlled than they used to be. Gone are the days when you could wander into a local chemist’s shop and leave with half a pound of arsenic “for the rats” and no one the wiser. For another, methods of detection have advanced significantly. A death that might, in Victorian times, have been ascribed to gastric fever is much more likely now to be discovered as an instance of poisoning. And once the death is known to be murder, the whole rigmarole of investigation will begin—and with modern scientific methods of gathering evidence, the chance is high that a conviction will result.
Auntie’s inheritance isn’t looking so attractive now, is it? 
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Giveaway: I’m offering a free signed paperback copy of 2013 Rainbow Award winning romantic comedy Slam! (I’m happy to ship internationally) to a randomly chosen commenter on the tour, plus a $10 Amazon gift certificate!  I’ll be making the draw around teatime on Monday 7th April, GMT. Good luck! :D









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Question: What’s your favourite murder method? (Fictional please; all confessions to actual murder will be passed on to the proper authorities!)

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If you dig up the past, be prepared to get dirty
It hasn’t been all smooth sailing since plumber Tom Paretski and P.I. Phil Morrison became connected at the heart, if not always at Tom’s dodgy hip. Neither of their families has been shy about voicing their disapproval, which hasn’t helped Tom’s uneasy relationship with his prickly older sister, Cherry.
But when Cherry is poisoned at her own engagement party, the horror of her near death has Tom’s head spinning with possible culprits. Is it her fiancé Gregory, a cathedral canon with an unfortunate manner and an alarming taste for taxidermy? Someone from her old writers’ circle, which she left after a row? Or could the attack be connected to her work as a barrister?
Phil is just as desperate to solve the case before someone ends up dead—and he fears it could be Tom. At least one of their suspects has a dark secret to hide, which makes Tom’s sixth sense for finding things like a target painted on his back…
Warning: Contains a strong, silent, macho PI; a cheeky, chirpy, cat-owning plumber; and a gag gift from beyond the grave that’ll put the cat firmly among the pigeons.

Now available in ebook:  Samhain Publishing | Amazon.com |Amazon.co.uk

*****


JL Merrow is that rare beast, an English person who refuses to drink tea.  She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance, and is frequently accused of humour. Her novel Slam! won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best LGBT Romantic Comedy.
She is a member of the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.
Find JL Merrow online at: www.jlmerrow.com, on Twitter as @jlmerrow, and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/jl.merrow



34 comments:

  1. I am a big fan of the old classic, the disappearing murder weapon. Stab them with an icicle in a sauna (you need a thermos to bring it in). Or the classic Peter Wimsey use of a poultry skewer that you then shove in the chicken and chuck in the oven.

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    1. I thought that Wimsey one was brilliant - it's the sort of thing I'd never dream of!
      And I was quite disappointed when the latest Sherlock series didn't use an icicle as a murder weapon on the dead guardsman; I was so sure that was going to be it. Thanks for the tip about the thermos - you've clearly thought this one through very carefully! ;P

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  2. I have to confess a liking for poisons that aren't messy, Foaming at the mouth is so unattractive.

    skadlec1@yahoo.com

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    1. Indeed. Murder victims should display a certain degree of decorum. ;D

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  3. As one who loves her food and drink, poisonings always are exceptionally upsetting to me! But for some reason the murder method in the Steve Martin movie THE MAN WITH TWO BRAINS springs to mind this morning (namely, an injection of window cleaner in the buttocks)...they were so painstaking with the far-fetched explanation about why it was the ideal murder method to use if you're harvesting a brain that it did actually amuse me.

    Trix, vitajex(at)Aol(Dot)com

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    1. Well, you do have to be careful with your poisons, if you want to use the remains! One thing that surprised me when researching Relief Valve was just how complicated the action of many poisons is, and how they have very different ways of achieving their, um, end! ;)
      But don't worry. Admittedly Heat Trap (Plumber's Mate #3) is still in its early stages, but so far, I'm not planning any poisonings!

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  4. I didn't read this earlier today in case it gave something away about Relief Valve (I don't even read official blurbs). As I've now finished it, I can catch up with your blog tour. It's only just occurred to me that while I was reading it I didn't even think about where the poison came from (I'm being very careful to avoid spoilers), and that's despite reading everything written by Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, Agatha Christie, etc.. Good distraction - I was too busy thinking about the relationships etc.!

    My favourite undetectable murder method is that used in Sayers Unnatural death, an injection of air into a vein causing an air embolism. No poison to show up in the autopsy! Apparently, this can't actually be done using a syringe (as in the book) because one can't get enough air in, but is possible using an intravenous drip (and is something doctors and nurses have to guard against doing accidentally).

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    1. Reply below - I think I clicked the wrong thingy! ;)

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  5. Hmm. Some good ideas already shared. I like the icicle, too. Clever. Now, thinking of poisons, it seems there are several things that can still do it. Did you know people purposely inject themselves with Vaseline? I saw that on the news; that would be a cruel way to murder someone. Although, if they weren't stupid enough to think it would give them the curves they want, it might be a bit tricky to get them to stand still for the shot. ;-)

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    1. O_o. I hadn't heard of the Vaseline thing. Nasty, very nasty.
      Hmm. I guess you'd have to knock them out first, maybe? Or get them (very) drunk. Actually, that could be quite cunning: by the time the health problems show up, they wouldn't have a clear memory of the incident that caused them, and might not even associate the two...

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  6. Ooohhhh... I'm shocked to find you can't inject enough air with a syringe! I've seen this done in so many murder mysteries! It's like the gold paint thing in Goldfinger - if you say it with enough conviction, people will believe anything! ;)

    The beauty of nicotine, of course, is that it's so readily available. (WARNING: DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!!!) I was thinking of boiling up cigarettes, but I wonder if patches would work just as well? Or even those new-fangled e-cigarettes? ;)

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    1. The way they used to do it in the old crime novels was to distill it from tobacco, I think - probably pipe or chewing tobacco rather than cigarettes. Don't know how one would extract it from patches! It's also in insecticides; in fact, a bit of research reveals that it's a preferred organic insecticide (in the US, at least) because it is plant-derived.

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  7. I admire the bloodthirstiness of all of you. :) Cesare Borgia would be proud.

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  8. I like the frozen meat bullet idea. Similar to an icicle but with a twist. Is it really possible to get away with it? I don't know! What I do know is that I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED Relief Valve! So very British, so very funny, so very snarky, so very AWESOME!

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    1. Aw, thank you! :D
      Hmm - frozen meat bullets would be a little problematic in Britland, where guns are tightly controlled. And I'm not sure I'd really trust the thing to work, and not just bounce off! I wonder if Mythbusters have ever checked this one out? ;)

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  9. I have to go with poison. You cook their favorite foods with a little extra added to it.
    sstrode at scrtc dot com

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    1. You'd have to make sure you washed the dishes very, very thoroughly afterwards, though! ;)

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  10. There are some very creative ideas here already! I always remember my sister, who watches far too many true crime TV shows, telling me about a woman who killed her husband by poisoning him with antifreeze. I'm looking forward to reading Relief Valve!

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    1. And of course, antifreeze isn't that hard to get hold of. Not so easy, of course, to explain its presence in your spouse's diet! ;)

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  11. I think I would have to go with a homemade bullet made from either ice (that would melt and disappear) or meat that would also be mix in with the body. Neither would allow the "bullet" to be easily traced to the person or a specific gun, no striations to match to the gun :)

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    1. It's a cunning plan, but does it work in practice?
      *googles*
      Apparently Mythbusters (http://mythbustersresults.com/episode1) says no. I have a sad... :(

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  12. I'm thinking alcohol poisoning. After dinner get him drunk, have sex so he passes out and do an IV drip straight into his arm

    jasdarts at hotmail.com

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    1. Oooh, I like your thinking! Although it does require a certain amount of cold-bloodedness on the part of the perpetrator. Not for the faint-hearted!

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  13. Since I like to garden, I'd use a little something from it. A little nightshade, oleander, foxglove...added to a salad

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    1. I like that. A nice homegrown, ecologically sound murder, with none of those nasty chemicals. If you then bury your victim in the garden, they can fertilise it too! ;)

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  14. O.O loads of murderous peolpe here.... hehe. Liked the post very much.
    My favorite would definitely be something that seemed accidental but wasn't - like "how did *deadly thing*get in there?" or "I didn't know X was deathly allergic to Y"
    I've read a very short story (and my brain tells me it was by Marie Sexton, but I can't find it right now) where the parent is thinking about how to kill their child - taking it on a roller coaster, having it stung by a bee and "ooops, the epi pen is in my bag on the ground" but decides against it because a) the kid is too much of a wuss to get on a roller coaster and b) it would be suspicious to have that happen TWICE 0.0

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    1. Eeeek! I know kids can try your last nerve sometimes, but that seems a little drastic!

      We've had some fantastic responses here, haven't we? "Accidental" deaths are definitely a smart way of murdering someone, if you can pull it off so no-one even suspects. Saves a lot of unpleasantness. *nods* ;)

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  15. I guess I liked the stage murder kind of tropes. A perp can be so creative in the way they end a person's life and how they decide to set up the stage to make it look like a suicide or a accident.

    humhumbum AT yahoo DOT com

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    1. Yep, I definitely appreciate it when a murderer goes that extra mile to make it more interesting! ;)
      As long as, you know, it's not me they're murdering!

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  16. I must be a nerd. I choose either a Light Saber or a Blaster ^_^ I like the physical aspect of both of them, lol.

    penumbrareads(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Ah, a thoroughly modern murderer. Of the two, I think I'd go for a blaster - light sabers involve a bit too much in the way of close contact. Although presumably they'd cauterize the wound, so mess would be minimal?
      All important considerations. ;)

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  17. Interesting post

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

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