Blogging A to Z: Day 16 – Poison: The use of poison as a murder weapon in cozy mysteries

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Welcome, cozy mystery fans! If you’re anything like me, you love a good whodunit that’s equal parts suspense and cozy vibes. And what’s cozier than curling up with a book and a nice cup of tea, right? Well, except for maybe curling up with a book, a nice cup of tea, and a murderer on the loose. Just kidding. (Sort of.)

One thing I’ve noticed about cozy mysteries is that they seem to have a real fondness for poison as a murder weapon. I mean, sure, there are the occasional bludgeonings and strangulations, but for the most part, if someone in a cozy mystery is going to meet their demise, it’s probably going to be courtesy of a little something added to their Earl Grey.

But why is that? Why is poison such a popular choice for cozy mystery writers? And what’s the deal with all the different types of poison they use? Well, my friends, settle in and let’s dive into the mysterious world of poison as a murder weapon in cozy mysteries.

Oh, and before we get started, just a quick disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission if you make a purchase through them. Don’t worry, it won’t cost you anything extra, and it helps me keep the blog running. Now, let’s get into it!

Poison: A History

Let’s take a moment to talk about poison. Poison has been used as a murder weapon for centuries. It’s like the OG of murder weapons. People have been slipping poison into each other’s drinks since before there were drinks. And, let’s be honest, poison is just so darn sneaky. You can’t see it, you can’t smell it, and before you know it, you’re keeling over.

So why is poison such a popular choice for murder in literature? Well, for one, it’s a lot less messy than, say, a hatchet. It’s hard to make a cozy mystery out of a bludgeoning, you know? But poison? That’s the stuff. It’s quiet, it’s unassuming, and it makes for a great mystery.

Throughout history, there have been some famous poisoners. Take Lucrezia Borgia, for example. She was a real-life poisoner from the 16th century. Legend has it that she had a poison ring that she used to off her enemies. I mean, talk about a power move. If I had a poison ring, I’d use it to get out of PTA meetings.

Then there’s Madame de Brinvilliers, a French aristocrat who poisoned her father and two brothers for their inheritance. She was eventually caught, but not before she went on the run and became the inspiration for a whole bunch of novels. Talk about turning lemons into lemonade.

So, there you have it. A brief history of poison. It’s been around for centuries and it’s not going anywhere. And, if you’re a cozy mystery author, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Poison in Cozy Mysteries:

You know what they say, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again… with poison.” Okay, no one actually says that, but it’s a popular saying in the world of cozy mysteries. Poison has been a go-to murder weapon in cozy mysteries for as long as we can remember. But why, you ask? Well, let me tell you.

First of all, poison is sneaky. It can be slipped into a drink or a meal without anyone noticing, and it can take hours, days, or even weeks to show its deadly effects. That makes for a great plot twist, and keeps readers guessing until the very end.

Secondly, poison is a versatile weapon. There are so many different types of poisons, each with their own unique properties and effects. From arsenic to hemlock to cyanide, there’s a poison for every occasion. And cozy mystery authors love to play around with the different types of poisons to create clever and intricate murder plots.

Now, let’s talk about some famous cozy mystery novels that feature poison as a murder weapon. There’s “A is for Alibi” by Sue Grafton,

in which the victim is poisoned with oleander.

And who could forget “Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death” by M.C. Beaton,

in which the victim is poisoned with a quiche laced with hemlock?

And of course, there’s the classic “Murder on the Orient Express” by Agatha Christie,

in which the victim is poisoned with cyanide.

But why do cozy mystery readers find poison murders so intriguing? Maybe it’s the mystery and suspense of trying to figure out whodunit. Maybe it’s the morbid curiosity of learning about different types of poisons and how they work. Or maybe it’s just the satisfaction of seeing justice served and the murderer brought to justice.

Whatever the reason, there’s no denying that poison is a staple of cozy mystery novels. So the next time you’re reading a cozy mystery and someone drops dead after drinking a cup of tea, just remember: it’s probably not the tea that’s the problem.

Okay, so we’ve established that poison is a popular choice for murder in cozy mysteries. But what kind of poison are we talking about here? Is it the kind that smells like almonds, or the kind that turns your insides to mush? Let’s take a look at some common types of poisons used in cozy mystery novels.

First up, we have arsenic. Ah, arsenic. The classic poison of choice for genteel murderers everywhere. It’s tasteless, odorless, and can cause a slow and painful death. Plus, it’s been around for centuries, so you know it’s a classic.

Then there’s cyanide. This one smells like almonds, apparently. Which is weird, because I’ve never smelled an almond that smelled like death. But anyway, cyanide is a fast-acting poison that can kill you in minutes. So if you’re looking for a quick and efficient way to off your victim, cyanide is your poison.

Next on the list is strychnine. This one is particularly nasty because it causes muscle spasms and convulsions before killing you. So not only do you get to die, but you get to suffer before you go. Fun times.

And of course, we can’t forget about good old-fashioned hemlock. This one was famously used to kill Socrates, so you know it’s been around for a while. Hemlock causes paralysis and respiratory failure, so you basically suffocate to death. Yikes.

Now, you might be wondering how authors research all these different poisons for their novels. Do they just Google “how to kill someone with arsenic” and hope for the best? Actually, no. Most authors are very thorough in their research. They consult with experts, read scientific journals, and even attend conferences on poison. Which, let’s be honest, would be a pretty cool conference to attend. Can you imagine the swag bags? “Thanks for coming to the Poison Conference! Here’s a tote bag and a complimentary vial of cyanide!”

So there you have it. A quick rundown of some common types of poison used in cozy mystery novels. Just remember, kids, don’t try this at home. Unless you’re a fictional character in a book, in which case go wild.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Jen, how the heck do you solve a poison murder in a cozy mystery? That sounds like some serious CSI stuff.” And you’re right, it is. But luckily, cozy mystery detectives have a few tricks up their sleeve.

First of all, they look for clues. And by “clues,” I mean anything that looks even remotely suspicious. Did the victim have a weird taste in food? Did they suddenly switch to herbal tea instead of their usual coffee? Did they start carrying around an EpiPen even though they didn’t have any known allergies? These are all things that could point to a poison murder.

Next, the detective might try to identify the poison used. And how do they do that, you ask? Well, they could try a process of elimination. For example, if the victim had symptoms of paralysis, the detective might suspect botulinum toxin. If they had a fever and stomach cramps, it could be salmonella. And if they suddenly started singing show tunes and dancing on the ceiling, it might be LSD (which, to be fair, is a pretty awesome way to go).

But sometimes, identifying the poison is a bit more complicated. That’s when the detective might turn to a toxicologist for help. And let me tell you, cozy mystery toxicologists are the coolest. They’re like mad scientists, except they use their powers for good instead of evil (usually). They can analyze tissue samples and bodily fluids to identify the poison used, and then the detective can start piecing together the clues to figure out who the culprit is.

So, there you have it. Solving a poison murder in a cozy mystery isn’t easy, but it’s definitely doable. And with the right detective on the case, justice will be served…and maybe a few cups of tea, just to be safe.

Well folks, we’ve learned today that poison is not just for killing your plants when you forget to water them for a month (guilty as charged). It turns out that poison is a popular choice for murder in cozy mysteries. From arsenic to strychnine, cozy mystery authors have a whole arsenal of toxic substances at their disposal.

But don’t worry, dear readers, the detectives in cozy mysteries are on the case. They’ll sort through the clues, identify the poison, and catch the killer before they can strike again. And let’s be honest, there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing a killer brought to justice, except maybe a good cup of tea and a cozy mystery book in your hands.

So, if you haven’t already, I highly encourage you to give cozy mysteries with poison as a murder weapon a try. You might just find yourself hooked on the thrilling whodunit plots and the delightfully quirky characters that populate these books. Just be sure to keep an eye on your tea cup while you’re reading. You never know what might be lurking inside.


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