Monday, April 20, 2015

The Perfect Murder

I have just discovered how to commit the perfect murder. In a spirit of generosity I am now prepared to share the inspiration with any fellow authors who may be looking for just this, or anyone who is merely thinking of bumping off the person who posted that bad review on Amazon.

Recently I went to a hygiene course in connection with some charity work I'm going to be doing. I had thought it would basically be about food handling – hand washing, paper towels, separate boards for raw meat – all the basic things we do anyway.

But it was much wider than that and I have to say the general reaction, having been told how death lurks in every kitchen, no further away than that less than pristine cloth you just wiped the surfaces with, was to consider that giving up eating altogether was the only safe thing to do. One of our number, a young girl who hadn't much kitchen experience, got paler and paler and when the instructor said that leaving meat out to defrost instead of in the fridge could be lethal, wailed, 'But that's what I've done today!'

What got my criminal mind working was having it explained that whenever meat is cut, it acquires a film of bacteria on the surface, which thorough cooking destroys. A rare steak isn't cooked right through but the searing on all cooked surfaces does the job. A rare hamburger, however...

That film of bacteria, once the meat is minced, gets mixed in and spreads right though. Put on the barbecue, the outside is safely seared but the bacteria inside, all cosy and warm from the gentle heat around them, multiply like crazy. My instructor's view was that Russian roulette is safer. It's a question of, 'Maybe not today, but sometime, and for the rest of your – probably very short – life.'

So there we have the plot. The victim: a guy, probably rich, who loves his hamburger rare. The villain, his young, gold-digging wife. The motive: obvious. The weapon: a pound of minced fillet of steak, set by the range in the kitchen for the day. The place: a sunny garden, the fragrance of roasting meat in the air. The time: very shortly afterwards.

A tragic case of food poisoning, a weeping, suddenly very rich widow safe in the knowledge that there will be no forensic evidence to prove she poisoned him. Sure, it could be traced to her kitchen but no one could show that she'd done it deliberately and (at least in Britain) you can't even be prosecuted for low hygiene standards provided it is food that has been prepared and eaten in your own home.

So that's why I'm being uncharacteristically generous with my idea for an ingenious method of poisoning. Normally when I've got a good idea I keep it to myself like a child with a secret stash of candy, but I can't for the life of me think how even the powers of DI 'Big Marge' Fleming could bring that one to justice.

But perhaps you can?

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