Tuesday, April 5, 2016

26+ Ways to Kill: D is for Duomachy and Dwale

Welcome to my blog! Since I write culinary mysteries, “Parsley, Sage, and Rosemary Time” deals with food topics and with mysteries. This month I am sharing ways to kill people—in your mysteries, of course—and some tips on getting away with it! To avoid the pronoun problem, I’ll use heesh (he or she), shis (his or hers), and shim (him and her) throughout the entries.

There are several D words tied to ways to kill. In your book, set at sea or in a seaside or farming community, the drail, a heavy fishhook or the iron bow of a plow, might be your perfect weapon. Using a tool associated with a specific occupation could throw off the investigators. The drail could be used to frame someone who’s a sailor to throw off the scent from the non-sailor killer. Or set the murder at a farm. Clever, eh. But I didn’t do drail.

I could have used drowning. But lots of books use drowning, right? The best scenario is to make the drowning look like an accident so the killer can escape detection.

I wanted to come up with some you might not have considered so Duomachy and Dwale are today’s killer D words.

Duomachy is a duel. Imagine the possibilities. Duels are considered an age-old honorable, though illegal, way to settle disputes. Especially if you are writing a period mystery, this method might work for you. Have your villain hinder shis opponent by tampering with the sword or by injuring the duelist, giving an advantage to the killer. Imagine spreading itching powder in the opponent’s glove so there is enough of an irritant to take shis attention away from shis strokes.

Or perhaps your killer could create a distraction with light or noise so heesh can go in for the kill. Duomachy (dueling) is imbued with all sorts of romantic notions. The reality of skewering someone while looking in shis eyes, however, could make for a great scene. You could sanitize it for a cozier version or draw out the blood and guts part to make it realistic for the reader. Also, the odds of escaping prosecution for murder goes up if the culture looks the other way.

D is also for Dwale, a stupefying drink, that goes back at least to the Middle Ages. It was used as an herbal anaethetic in pre-general anaethesia times. The drink consists of harmless ingredients (bile, lettuce, vinegar, and bryony root) mixed with the harmful ones (hemlock, opium, and henbane). Dangerous as this was, dwale was in common use in homes when a pain killer was needed.

Getting the ingredients together today would be a tad more difficult. Here’s a recipe for dwale that I found, in case you want to try this method. 

“How to make a drink that men call dwale to make a man sleep whilst men cut him: take three spoonfuls of the gall [bile] of a barrow swine [boar] for a man, and for a woman of a gilt [sow], three spoonfuls of hemlock juice, three spoonfuls of wild neep [bryony], three spoonfuls of lettuce, three spoonfuls of pape [opium], three spoonfuls of henbane, and three spoonfuls of eysyl [vinegar], and mix them all together and boil them a little and put them in a glass vessel well stopped and put thereof three spoonfuls into a potel of good wine and mix it well together.
“When it is needed, let him that shall be cut sit against a good fire and make him drink thereof until he fall asleep and then you may safely cut him, and when you have done your cure and will have him awake, take vinegar and salt and wash well his temples and his cheekbones and he shall awake immediately.”

In order to kill, you’d have to dose someone pretty heavily, but an alternative is to just stupefy the person and kill with something a bit more reliable. I mean, if the victim is vomiting up the dwale, you probably won’t be able to get enough down shim to kill with it. I would imagine though, that a dwale concoction could make for some interesting forensic discussions among your detectives!

What is your best D way to kill?

If you take time to share this post on social media, I would be most grateful.

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#Mystery writer need ideas to kill? D is for Duomachy or Dwale. Many killer tips this month #atozchallenge http://bit.ly/1REgdDj

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Blogging from A to Z Challenge offers a wide range of topics. If you want to kill someone (in books of course), check out killing with Duomachy or Dwale on “Parsley, Sage, and Rosemary Time” at http://bit.ly/1REgdDj

Please come back tomorrow to see how to kill with E words!

Check out Sharon Arthur Moore’s culinary mystery, Mission Impastable 


  1. I had to do some research on duels for one of my books, and it was interesting stuff.

    1. Yes, duels have a very colorful history. And the rules are pretty amazing. Very structured. Thanks for coming by.

  2. Replies
    1. That's what I try to do--find interesting stuff for all of youse.

  3. Fun - some new words to learn today! I love the recipe, especially the part about cutting the man and then waking him up again later.

    Cheers - Ellen | http://thecynicalsailor.blogspot.co.nz/2016/04/d-is-for-ditch-bag-nancy-drew.html

    1. Don't you just love learning words, Ellen? I have to bop over to your site to get caught up on Nancy's adventure. Been a busy day!