Saturday, April 23, 2016

26+ Ways to Kill: T is for Tabacosis or Talionic

Welcome! 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 or her) throughout the entries. Tune in for murder and mayhem.

Here’s a cool T word: teen. Yeah, you thought you knew what that meant, but another definition is both archaic and obsolete, but still . . . Teen used to mean injury or grief. Hmm. Maybe it still fits to some degree when one remembers teen angst.

There are lots of other interesting words in the T realm.

If one is thanatoid, one is apparently dead, deadly, or deathly. Great word, right? For related words, you likely read William Cullen Bryant’s reflection on death,“Thanatopsis”, in high school. A thanatography is a narrative on death. Threnody is an ode or song of lamentation, a dirge.

I also like the killer using a tranq (tranquilizer) to immobilize or torpefy (make numb or torpid; paralyze) the victim so make shim easier to manage.

We talked yesterday about the problems of using thermoplagia (sunstroke) as a killing method. And terebrate (bore into, pierce) is another kind of foramination, as is tranchet (a Neolithic flint chisel). Also, thyestean (cannibalistic) has been done. And so has thlipsis (crushing, compression, restriction). Tephrosis is incineration, again, covered as is a triple-bladed katana (knife). We have also discussed in these posts toxicophagous (or toxiphagous), which is poison eating.

Wouldn’t it be interesting to explore your killer’s tartarology (beliefs about hell or the underworld)? I see that your murderer could be tenebrose (dark, brooding) or maybe thereoid (beastly savage). Your killer might be temerarious (rashly or presumptuously daring) especially if heesh is into taunting the police, daring them to capture shim.

I would love to kill someone by trituration (rubbing or grinding into a fine powder), but the human body is so . . . liquid that one would have to kill first (by some method) and dehydrate the body before triturating.  But can’t you see the scene at an old grist mill deep in the woods and someone investigates the sound because the old mill hasn’t been used in decades? Good one!

So what have I culled out for today? Well, C is for Tabacosis or Talionic.

Clinically, tabacosis is a pathology from chronic tobacco poisoning. This form of pneumoconiosis is an occupational hazard for those working in cigar and tobacco factories. Tabacosis specifically develops from inhaling tobacco dust.

But what if your killer knows this and decides to kill shis father/mother-in-law by speeding up the process. Who would ever check for a cause of death if the victim had been identified with the disease? What if the person also takes a regular injection (for diabetes, perhaps)? Couldn’t your killer put tobacco dust into the injection vial? Or maybe torpefy the victim after a regular insulin injection and insert a vial of tobacco dust liquid into the same injection spot so it would go unnoticed? Or what if your victim is a cocaine sniffer. The killer could cut the cocaine with a lot of tobacco dust and wait for death. Oh, yeah.

While a talionic murder isn’t a specific method, it has its own charm for storytellers. Talionic death is retributive, like for like.

Maybe you have a Dexter-like sociopath-vigilante righting the wrongs of the legal system. Heesh might track down those who escaped justice and then kill them in the same way--talionic--heesh killed shis victim. So without an identifiable modus operandi, your killer would be difficult to track. Of course, your sharp investigator sees the pattern and goes hunting for recently unconvicted alleged murderers to intervene and capture your killer. Is heesh successful? Or does your killer escape detection to live on in a sequel?

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

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#Mystery writer, need killer ideas? T is for Tabacosis or Talionic. Lots of tips this month! #atozchallenge

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Looking for new, fresh ways to kill (in books of course)? Check out Tabacosis or Talionic on “Parsley, Sage, and Rosemary Time” at

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

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