Saturday, April 30, 2016

26+ Ways to Kill: Z is for Zoothapsis

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.

Had I not done this challenge and had I, instead, written on Prime Rib and Punishment, it would be done. I have written, for this blog challenge series, over 18,000 words. That’s a lot of novel pages!  Dead ones, of course, because those pages don’t exist. Fits the monthly theme, right? How to kill a novel: D is for Don’t Write.

Ah, well, back to my normal routine today! However, I have categorized my various murder methods and will be posting the list (as a review for you) on another of my blogs: Write Away. Just check at late next week.

But that’s not why we gathered here today. In looking for Z murder methods, I happened upon zineb, which is a white powder used as a fungicide. We’ve done various poisonings so that didn’t grab me. But one did.

Today Z is for Zoothapsis. Premature burial. This is similar to obvallate, but instead of sealing a person behind a barrier, this one is an actual burial beneath the dirt. We all have heard the horrific tales of Victorian casket exhumations. The shredded casket lining was testimony to someone awakening to discover heesh was buried while still alive. Imagine the terror.

Back before embalming or even in the early days of less rigorous embalmings, the fear appears to have been well-founded. Collected accounts in 1905 found 149 actual live burials, 219 near live burials, 10 cases of live dissection, and 2 cases of awakening during embalming. Gives one pause, eh? Zoothapsis is apparently real.

Taphephobia (fear of being buried alive) was so real, in fact, that the “safety coffin” was created. In one type, a bell above ground could be rung above ground from inside the coffin so that rescue could occur. An urban legend stated that the terms “dead ringer” and “saved by the bell” came from such safety coffins. Not true. Just so you know.

Your tale could involve a premature burial in the woods or it could be an accidental death (manslaughter) because the drunk mortician didn’t notice the body moving. Closed casket. No one realizes the victim isn’t dead—yet.

I hope you have enjoyed my little museum of horrors this month. I certainly had a great time tracking down and sharing some interesting unusual ways to kill off your victims. I hope you will drop by from time to time to see what else I post here. It’s a pretty far-ranging set of topics. And if you haven’t yet read the first book in my culinary mystery series, you might want to pick up Mission Impastable to read before book two hits later this year.

Happy murdering!

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

Twitter share:
#Mystery writer, need killer ideas? Z is for Zoothapsis. Lots of tips this month! #atozchallenge

Facebook share:
Looking for new, fresh ways to kill (in books of course)? Check out Zoothapsis on “Parsley, Sage, and Rosemary Time” at

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


  1. Wow - those are some scary statistics! I can't even imagine the terror of being buried alive.

    Your A to Z series was fascinating and very educational. I really enjoyed reading it and have lots of ideas for killing off people now (in books, not in real life).

    Cheers - Ellen

  2. Congratulations on completing the challenge, Sharon! Very interesting posts!

  3. Ta very much for the advice. I have enjoyed reading along. Congrats on the a to z.

  4. Congratulations on completing the challenge!
    @ScarlettBraden from
    Frankly Scarlett

  5. One of the subjects of my X challenge post supposedly heard moaning from her coffin after her execution for her part in a murder during the commission of a robbery. Her ghost is said to haunt the town where she was hanged. Creepy!