Prompted by our recent publication of The Pigeon Pie Mystery, I felt compelled to put together a list of some of the stranger objects fiendish fictional murderers have laced with deadly substances. Sorry for giving away a few endings here; if you were planning on reading a random Agatha Christie novel and yet fate led you first to my spoiler here, well, I know we just met, and this is crazy, but here’s my number, don’t poison me, maybe?
A Pocketful of Rye by Agatha Christie – In one of the more inventive poisonings by a novelist who relished them, Rex Fortescue dies from eating poisoned marmalade at his morning breakfast. The poison was manufactured from plants in his own garden, so the lesson here is perhaps you should stop growing those uranium flowers at your desk.
The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – Sherlock Holmes figures out that someone poisoned a lamp. That’s right, a lamp. The dubious light fixture gives off poisonous ashes when lit, which Holmes discovers when he tests it on himself (and is dragged to safety by Watson, naturally).
The Pigeon Pie Mystery by Julia Stuart – Major General Bagshot is poisoned on the grounds of Hampton Court Palace by a pigeon pie (complete with the bird’s feet sticking out of the top) prepared by a visiting Indian princess’s maid. Why anyone would eat a pie made out of pigeons and expect anything good to happen remains a mystery.
Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers – This Lord Peter Wimsey mystery should be named Bitter Breakfast, as the central plot revolves around the poisonings of both a cup of coffee and an omelet. In fact, the murder actually builds up a resistance to the poison so that he can share the tainted omelet with the victim, thus giving the reader a joyful gift of having an excuse to say “tainted omelet” in everyday conversation.
Last but not least, on the list for the title alone, Some Like It Hot Buttered by Jeffrey Cohen – Because I think movie theater popcorn butter would be the antidote to any kind of poison.
If you’re a writer looking for a great way to poison your character, there’s a book for that. And if this list isn’t bizarre enough for you, here’s a list of the top 10 mysterious ends writers have met.