Monday, February 20, 2017

From Frozen Turkeys to Polonium-210: Ways to Kill - Guest Post by Gary Alexander

Gary Alexander has written 17 novels. Disappeared, the first in the Buster Hightower mystery series, has been optioned to Universal Studios! He's also written 150+ short stories and sold travel articles to 6 major dailies. One story appeared in Best American Mystery Stories 201, another in Ice Cold, the 2014 Mystery Writers of America anthology. His latest novel is Damn Near Broke. Gary Alexander is a nonsmoking, non-drinking vegetarian. He does, however, abuse caffeine and chocolate.

Gary Alexander:

As mystery writers, it is our sacred duty to keep up with technology, and even stay a step ahead, by finding different ways to rip off or bump off a different sort of victim by a different breed of criminal.

We all know how to use a frozen turkey as a deadly weapon, then cook the evidence, savoring it with cornbread stuffing and a nice chardonnay while waiting for the police. Very old school.

Shenanigans in locked rooms and .38 Specials fired in dark alleys too.

Leave it to spies and peevish dictators to move the state-of-the-art forward. In 2000, a KGB officer sought and received political asylum in the West. Six years later, he fell ill and succumbed to polonium-210-induced radiation. One of the two guys suspected of the crime was found dead a few years after that, another story in itself.

We really shouldn’t compel our characters to keep polonium-210 around the house. There are many other high-tech ways to go.

Medium-tech too, employing Craigslist and eBay. Some fool puts a flawless 6-carat solitaire up for sale and gets taken off in his own driveway. We’ve seen that in the news, but how about turning it around, using eBay as bait? Prospective buyers are lured to a John Doe rental where they're rolled and/or killed. If the latter, they’re transported to a remote burial spot aided by GPS.

Semi-high-tech: Cell phones and tablets, the scourge of responsible drivers, can cause the users woes. A call or text sufficiently distracts the driver, where he becomes the victim of an “accident”. Or a call or text from an ex- or prospective-lover leads him to a deserted road, where he’s clipped with the aforementioned .38 Special. Delightful possibilities abound.

More high tech: A hacker may byte off more than he can chew by cleaning out a wise guy’s offshore bank account. To the mobster, “hacking” means removal of body parts. If the high-tech hacker is careless, low-tech retribution is sure to come.

Very high tech, which perhaps sticks a toe into sci-fi. Vegas is always a fun venue for mystery fiction; there’s no shortage of money and sleaze. Let’s say a nerd invents card-counting software that fits in eyeglass frames and projects onto the lenses. Or a magnetic gizmo carried in a pocket that can move a roulette wheel a fraction of a degree off its axis. The scofflaws need not move a muscle. Until they’re unable to, squirming in restraints, en route to enjoy a desert sunset.

Gold is irresistible to all. It’s not commonly known that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York holds more gold than Fort Knox. Would criminal access to it be easier? Tungsten, with a specific gravity of 19.3, weighs exactly as much as gold. With the right plan and technology, is it more feasible to gold-plate tungsten ingots and do a switcheroo than steal the gold per se?

We can’t close without a word on generic bank robbery. The conventional Willie Sutton Method is flat-out stupid. A bandit faces cameras, silent alarms, dye-packs, and when (not if) he’s caught, a Federal rap.

If bank loot is irresistible to your character, consider a new branch bank under construction. Have him monitor it from groundbreaking to grand opening. Somewhere in that time frame, money is going to be moved there.

1 comment:

Gordan mady said...

I love mystery. Got to pick this one....