Thursday 4 April 2013

D is for Death - Blogging from A to Z April Challenge

Now I considered many possible ways to go with this prompt. I could have gone with the many personifications of death in fiction, the fact that I don't like character death in fiction and why etc.

What I have decided to go with it is the weird and wonderful ways people die in murder mystery fiction. I love a good murder mystery and the higher the body count the better.

In all other genres I don't like character death, but it is the basis of the murder mystery and I'm all for a vaguely ridiculous murder.

I also decided to do this off the top of my head rather than going and looking things up, because I thought the most memorable murders would be the ones that have stuck in my head.

Now one of my favourite TV shows is Midsommer Murders, an ITV production set in a created place in England called Midsommer and the villages and towns therein. Early on they decided the body count of each episode was a bit ridiculous because of the small place it was supposed to be, so they reduced it, but people complained, so they soon dropped that idea :). Now if you want some strange deaths you want Midsommer:

  • run through with a pitchfork
  • killed by wine bottles being sling-shotted across the lawn to where the victim was staked out on a flat target
  • falling off a roof after seeing a headless horseman
  • killed by a poison mushroom slipped into a basket of wild mushrooms
  • shot by an arrow during a midsummer fertility festival
  • decapitation
  • immolation using chemicals to look like divine fire
I could go on, but as you can see, Midsommer knows a thing or two about whacky ways to die. Of course there are the usual stabbings, shooting, poisonings and stranglings, as well as a few drownings.

Of course there can't be a post on murder mysteries without mentioning the Dame herself: Agatha Christie. Now there is a woman who knew how to write about death, although her stories are often more along the lines of usual murders. I have to admit I don't read the books, but I eat up the TV and film adaptations whenever they are on. I do love Murder of the Orient Express; such a sense of justice. Quite a gruesome way to go, drugged and then poisoned, but the evil man deserved it and Poirot lets the jury of twelve get away with it. I have enjoyed every version I have seen except the David Suchet one, which got preachy and brought in religion which is totally not in the book (I know because Soph read it just to find out).

I do enjoy a good Poirot, but I have always preferred Miss Marple. Her mysteries always seem more personal somehow. My favourite story in the Joan Hickson adaptations is Nemesis where the murders are actually long in the past. In this story it is love that drives the death and it is a very poignant tale. The death of a young girl, on the cusp of womanhood, trying to tame a wild young man with love brought a community to its knees and Miss Marple is given the task of finding out who killed her.

Unfortunately I think when they remade this one with the modern Marple they butchered it. My favourite in the newer adaptations with Geraldine McEwan is A Murder is Announced. Here death is meeted out by gun and by poison and if you haven't seen it, the mystery leaves you guessing to the end.

In the 80s there was a great series of mysteries by P.D. James, adapted for television. The one that sticks in my mind was a nursing college, where the nurses were learning how to put in a feeding tube. The victim was picked to be the patient and poison was poured directly into her stomach during the practice. That's the only thing I remember about the whole mystery - clearly it made an impression on me as a child :).

In ITV's Rosemary and Thyme everyone seems to die in or near a garden. I really wouldn't hire them to landscape my garden, because people always seem to drop dead.

Lewis and Morse have some of my favourite murder mysteries. It is such as shame both series are both finished now. Where else could you have a don dead in his rooms in college and an ageing rock band dying one by one in the same series?

It is amazing how death fascinates us, especially when it is strange and macabre. Now I have picked mostly UK murder mysteries, although I do concede that some of the Peter Ustinov, US based Poirots are so much fun too. So, please, tell me your favourites, be they books, films, TV or stage.

If you enjoy murder mystery books, you may like my twin and my offering called Sacrifice of an Angel. My husband describes it as "Harry Potter meets Midsommer Murders". It's a murder mystery with a side of magic, suitable for YA readers and up.
If you would like to see what all of my posts will be about in advance, click here to see my theme post.
My twin and I are also doing the A to Z Challenge over at our fantasy erotica blog:


  1. I also enjoy a good mystery, although I'm more likely to read something by Kathy Reichs or Karin Slaughter. :-)

    1. I have to admit I tend to watch most of my murder mystery rather than read it *sheepish grin*. When I read I tend to go for horror, fantasy or sci-fi.

  2. This was a fun post!! Thanks!!

  3. Not at all as scary as the topic hinted, in fact a subject I can happily ramble on and on about!

    I love mysteries, unapologetically cosy ones are an enduring favourite of mine.

    Midsommers lol beware the guest star. My dad is a fan I've watched some with him - he always claims to know whodunit but never wants to spoil it hmm :)

    Agatha Christie I've read most of over the years, don't tend to watch then as much, but I liked Joan Hickson's Marple, I understand Christie liked Rutherford, Marple was always a tough lady, I'm not as convinced by the latest one though there's a 60's (?) style about them.

    Rosemary and Thyme, not as bad as dear old Jessica Fletcher, now there's a lady it's unhealthy to be friends with.

    Currently reading some Margary Allingham, Champion mysteries. Patricia Wentworth is Marple-esque and I quite like Charlaine Harris' series.

    And I'm off track, picking up speed - warned you I can ramble, sorry.

    The read murder that I remember, I think it's a Karin Slaughter one, where the victim's chest was opened and birds put in to simulate a heart beat for some necrophilia. Murder most horrid!

    Best tv one Csi saw it last week - cat pounces parrot which startles man in shower who knocks his head and dies, then parrot flies to woman who is peeling veg and she falls into a glass table dying, talons cutting into her scalp. Parrot then locks self back in cage kitty hides under sofa! You can't make this stuff up....oh wait!

    1. I really like most of the Marple productions :). Jessica Fletcher - she doesn't have much luck does she ::g::, or rather her friends and relatives don't.

      Ramblings fine :D

      The murder with the birds sounds just lovely ;)

      CSI is great, I really should start watching it again.

  4. Hi Tasha, this post reminded me that I actually did read quite a lot of mystery murder novels when I was younger. I should pick up that habit again. And somehow I just think of Cain and Abel when it comes to murder!

    1. With classic murder mystery I think there is actually something quite comforting about them, because traditionally the bad guy always gets their comeuppance.

  5. Ooo can I come around and watch TV with you? I love all of the series you quoted and it was entirely through my addiction to detective series that Cancel Christmas was born under my other pen name.

    (I chose a thoroughly vile and grisly way to kill off the victim too but I'd better not say) Lovely post, thank you.

    1. I knew TV detective shows were good for something :)

      Vile and grisly works really well in fiction.

      Thank you so much for dropping by.

  6. I used to read murder mysteries when I was younger, but now I generally only read them if they are also fantasy or sci-fi. I'm more likely to watch a murder mystery. Although I can't actually like of a single show in the US that focuses solely on that. Most are cop procedurals that have a lot of murder, but other types of crime as well.

    When I was younger I loved watching Murder She Wrote, and Diagnoses Murder. Apparently, I enjoy watching older people solve crimes. :) Miss Marple sounds like it would be right up my alley.

    1. I'm more likely to watch a murder mystery too :). You should try Miss Marple, they're great and Poirot isn't exactly a young whipper-snapper either ;).


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