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Toaster-Criminal: the Most Uncommon Murder Weapons in Literature

Toaster-Criminal: the Most Uncommon Murder Weapons in Literature
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Palina Dolia

Every crime story enthusiast knows: the key to solving a murder is the murder weapon. Brave detectives are the first to rush out to find it. Carving knives, hunting rifles, all sorts of ropes and arsenic are familiar and common ways of killing a literary hero. But the authors' imagination is limitless and unpredictable! So, watch your heads and your backs: 11 of the most unconventional instruments of crime await you.

From their very first appearance, crime stories and thrillers have tried their best to capture the attention of the readers. Let them be intrigued, frightened, excited. Let them rack their brains: what really happened in the story, who is the villain? Readers, in turn, are demanding more and more plot twists from books: the occasional shotgun fire, the deft stabbing with a kitchen knife, the plaster figurine falling on top of a potential victim are all getting boring and tiresome. You want something new. To check out and gasp in surprise. This is how you get very unconventional crimes involving items that can hardly be described as handy, or even convenient.


The Name of the Rose”, Umberto Eco

Do you like paper books? "The Name of the Rose" will subtly plant the idea of switching to e-books in your head, and at the same time will wean you from salivating your fingers to turn the pages. Aristotle's Poetics, every page of which is lavishly soaked in poison, becomes the instrument of the crime in this story. The longer you read, the more you get poisoned. The death worthy of true fans of the Greek treatise.

"Ghostwriter Anonymous", Noreen Wald

A poisoned page is a very elegant way of killing, but sometimes books are used much less delicately. In Noreen Wold's book, the unfortunate victim is beaten to death with volumes of "The Godfather" and "Crime and Punishment." An important nuance: the books were autographed.

"Misery" by Stephen King

Not really a book, but very much in line with the theme. The plot revolves around a trapped writer and his mad fan who holds him captive. There are drafts, manuscripts and writing a novel under torture... No wonder the heavy typewriter becomes not only a writing tool, but also a weapon

"Dewey Decimated" by Charles A. Goodrum

Do libraries seem quiet and safe to you? A fat chance! In this book, a series of crimes take place that are closely linked to reading rooms, and the murder weapon used is... a library card catalogue rod. Unexpected and sinister. Don't panic! Now, with the switch to electronic catalogues, you are much less likely to be beaten to death by an angry librarian. However, libraries still keep card catalogues...


"The Lovely Bones" by Alice Sebold

Of course, most of the crimes committed in this book are rather familiar to readers, but there is also room for unconventional ways. For example, an icicle that took the life of one of the characters. Icicles on the edge of the roof have always caused mild and justifiable fear, for the fall of one on a passer-by's head could well end his or her life. It happened this time too.

"Initials Only" by Anne Catherine Green

You've probably heard something about this method of killing but you've hardly come across it in literature. A bullet made of ice! Yes, ice again, but used in a more thoughtful, calculated and cold-blooded manner. Indeed, such a bullet, once it hits its victim, immediately melts away, leaving no trace. A perfect way to escape literary justice.

"A great whirring of wings" by Day Keene

Murders by means of poisonous snakes are still exotic, but the reader is almost used to them; after all, it's been around since Arthur Conan Doyle in "The Adventure of the Speckled Band". But what about birds? No, no one trained battle hawks to rip out enemies' hearts. All you have to do is teach your bird to peck... and put poison in its beak.


"Goldfinger", Ian Fleming

The James Bond adventure series always tried to be inventive in its elaborate spy schemes – naturally, unusual deaths were not uncommon either. In Goldfinger, a girl dies in a gruesome but very aesthetic way: her entire body is covered in gold paint, which suffocates the victim.

"A Fatal Grace" by Louise Penny

Some instruments of crime are not a single item, but a whole combination of things, events and precise timing. Thus, for example, in "A Fatal Grace", a woman dies in the midst of a curling match when her metal chair hits a bare wire hidden beneath a layer of snow. Discharge.

"The Nine Tailors" by Dorothy Sayers

Apart from having an incredibly long title ("The nine tailors: Changes rung on an old theme in two short touches and two full peals"), this book is also notable for its instrument of crime. The victim in the book dies from... the ringing of church bells.

"Lamb to the Slaughter" by Roald Dahl

One would think we know this author mainly from children's books - and neither "Matilda" nor "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" featured violent and bizarre murders (although the latter book is quite close to them). But Dahl has some great short stories. For example, in this one the plot revolves around a poor haggard housewife who is so fed up with her own husband that she smacks his head with a frozen lamb's foot. And then bakes it calmly. So when the police came to the house and accepted the offer to treat to some tender lamb, hardly any of the officers noticed that they had eaten a murder weapon.

"Mr. Preble Gets Rid of His Wife" by James Thurber

The criminals in the books have to be very inventive: calculate the victim's route, provide an alibi, get rid of the weapon and the body... But what if you're not very clever and you really, really want to kill your wife? Ask her for advice, of course. In this short story, Mr Preble, a quiet and faint-hearted man, is about to kill his wife, who flatly refuses to divorce. However, Mrs Prebble is always two steps ahead and knows his intentions immediately. But she doesn't call the police, she grumpily tells him what to do: "Do you want to leave a great big clue right here in the middle of everything where the first detective that comes snooping around will find it? Go out in the street and find some piece of iron or something... Don’t you dare stop in at the cigarstore. I’m not going to stand down here in this cold cellar all night and freeze!”

Individuality is important. Even when it comes to the instrument of crime.

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