Friday, June 10, 2011

Death by olive press? Ordeal by euphonium?

A survey carried out to mark the start of National Crime Writing Week, which runs between June 13 and 19, has cast light on some of the original ways that crime writers murder their victims.

The Bloodthirsty Britain research was carried out by the Crime Writers’ Association (CWA),which is organising the week. Members across the UK took part.

The CWA asked how many people they had killed off over the past year (2010). The average body count was 8.38 and the most people ‘killed’ by one author was 150.

The most inventive means of killing included:

  • Taxidermied alive
  • Sliced to death in an olive machine
  • Poisoned with soluble aspirin and ribena
  • Rigged a euphonium to land on victim's head
  • Super glue in mouth & nostrils to suffocate.
  • Bees in a wicket-keeper's inner glove leading to anaphylactic shock
  • Decapitation by glider cable
  • Trapped inside Damien Hurst style art installation
  • Dragged behind horse
  • Tied up and drowned by rising tide
  • Stabbed through the heart with a spangly stilleto
  • Drinking blood
  • Gored on the horns of a goat
Answers to why people like crime so much included:

People like to crack puzzles. They also love strong but deeply fallible or troubled main characters they can empathise with, and crime writers dish this up in spades.”

“Crime Writing is a fantastic genre to examine big moral questions about society, the State of Man as much as any so-called "literary" novel.”

“Crime stories can illuminate and celebrate the human condition, not just tell grim stories.”

“Creates suspense and allows you to explore the wicked/bad side of your own character that you don't actually want to act upon in real life...allows you a window into that world without you having to participate.”

More than 30% of those surveyed read crime fiction or watched crime drama every day of the year, and more than 50% read it weekly or several times a week.

CWA Chair, the best-selling author Peter James, said: “This survey has thrown up some fascinating findings and underlines why readers so love crime writing.

“One of the big campaigns undertaken by the CWA at the moment is to support libraries and we know that crime forms the most popular genre when it comes to borrowings. This research emphasises the reason why it remains so popular.”

National Crime Writing Week will run between June 13 and 19 and members of the CWA will take part in readings, discussions, readers’ group events and workshops in bookshops, libraries, arts centres and other venues. More information about events can be found at National Crime Writing Week is coordinated by CWA press officer John Dean at


  1. Hm. I do like creative & innovative criminals, but an unusual method may not always make for the best mystery.

  2. Yes, I agree. It's all about the puzzle for me, not the method of killing. In fact, there are several authors I don't read precisely because their methods of killing amount to 'bigger and better and bloodier.' No thanks. A little cruelty and/or butchery goes a lot way. Far as I'm concerned, anyway.

    But I still enjoyed reading your post. :)

    Death by krazy glue. Yegads!!!