If society ever decides to imprison people based on their search-engine inquiries, we mystery writers will be in trouble. It is our unpleasant habit to have our characters murdered in ingenious ways, and since we’re not actually ingenious murderers, we need to research these methods.
A good example
Say that the plot for your book Topped Among the Turnips requires that your victim meet his end at the hands of a combine-harvester. Already you’re in trouble, because a combine-harvester probably doesn’t have hands. (And would not be used to harvest turnips, but we’ll let that go.)
But what does it have that could kill your victim? Wheels? Flails? Huge mechanical teeth?
Which leads to an Internet search, “How could you kill someone with a combine harvester”?
Agatha Christie’s search-engine record
If she’d had one, it might look something like this:
“Does thallium poisoning cause hair loss?”
“Could marmalade conceal the bitter taste of taxine?”
“If smeared on a dart, would the venom of a boomslang snake be sufficient to kill?”
And Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s
Also theoretical, of course.
“How does one train a swamp adder to climb up a bell cord?”
“How does one make a dog glow in the dark?”
“About soft-nosed revolver bullets”
“Might the sting of a Lion’s Mane jellyfish be fatal?”
Hello, Internet police!
For my current book, Winter Takes All, I’ve done the following searches:
“Can you push someone in such a way that he’d fall and break his neck?”
“How long before rigor mortis sets in?”
“Can you leave fingerprints on denim?”
So, yes, I could be in trouble. I just hope that if the worst happens, I’ll be locked up with all the other mystery writers and that we’ll be allowed to bring our books.