Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Murder Weapon

by guest blogger J.H. Bogran

One of my favorite board games when I was growing up was Clue. Do you remember throwing out your hypotheses about the place, the perpetrator, and the murder weapon? Miss Scarlet with the revolver in the ballroom! No? Perhaps Professor Plum with the wrench in the conservatory. I usually got the room and the person right; it was the murder weapon that always gave me trouble.

Just like in the game, the murder weapon is an important component of thrillers. Sometimes they become indelibly associated with the character. For example, the literary James Bond with his Walther PPK, even when he’s used others. You must remember one of the spy’s more formidable adversaries was the Man with the Golden Gun!

Weapons come in all shape and form. To borrow from other popular movies: Dirty Harry and his S&W .44. Jason’s machete is just as fearsome as the white hockey mask. The deadly Bride with her Hattori Hanzo steel. Ice picks terrified me after watching what Catherine Tramell can do with them.

Or this from an exchange in Live Free or Die Hard:
Matt Farrell: "You just killed a helicopter with a car!"
John McClane (played by Bruce Willis): "I was out of bullets"

See what I mean? As writers of thrillers, we strive to make our characters believable, but also, we love a good sidearm. They are more than a trait; they help add depth to the character, to make him or her unique.

It should not come as a surprise that researching for the perfect weapon is one of my favorite parts when developing a character or a story. I’ve been to gun shows, liked the official N.R.A. page, and the Sig is a favorite, of course. I’m always on the lookout for the next best thing.

Take this gem for example: the ASP, a handgun developed specifically for the Secret Service. How neat is that? I couldn’t pass on it; a character in my upcoming  novel Highland Creek carries an ASP. The only bad thing is that he likes to brag about his weapon.

In my short story, The Assassin’s Mistress, the lead character's love for guns is up until he uses them for a job. Then he disposes of them just as quickly as you toss an umbrella after the rain stops.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, in Deeds of a Master Archer, the lead character is a present day Marine. He loves his government-issued weapons: M-16s, rocket launchers, grenades, the works. But when he travels through an earthquake-induced portal and discovers dragons are the new enemy, he relies on tried-and-true weaponry: a bow and arrow.

Readers: What is the strangest weapon you can remember?
Writers: What is your weapon of choice?

J. H. Bográn, born and raised in Honduras, is the son of a journalist, but he prefers to write fiction rather than fact. José’s genre of choice is thrillers, but he likes to throw a twist of romance into the mix. His works include novels and short stories in both English and Spanish. He’s a member of the International Thriller Writers where he also serves as the Thriller Roundtable Coordinator.


  1. Thanks for blogging with us. As for murder weapons and cause of death, I like to mix it up. My victims have been suffocated, stabbed, shot, beaten with a bat, and more. I found an even more interesting weapon for the one I'm writing now, but I can't mention it without giving the story away.

  2. Great post! The oddest weapon I can remember is the rod from a library card catalogue (remember those?) in one of the Miss Zukas mysteries by Jo Dereske.

  3. I'm into herbology so poisoning is a good weapon for me. It's said to be a woman's weapon so all the more reason to use it in an unexpected way! I also like the idea of no weapon - like pressure point to stop somebody's heart. I'm kinda creepy, huh? :D

  4. RED TIDE employs a bio weapon and a unique delivery system, while THE MISSINGS is much more up close and personal with a scalpel doing the dirty work. An earlier incarnation of THE MISSINGS called for succinylcholine, but I dropped it from the story line when I completely rewrote the manuscript. I might save that for another time.

    Alway intriguing (but I'm not sure how practical) are bullets made of ice and the injection of air into a vein.

    I have a gun-guy who I run those weapons by to make sure I don't do something stupid thereby calling into question every other element of my story.

  5. Great post, José! Good info, and I like your humorous writing style, too!

    Your topic has also attracted a lot of interesting comments with great ideas for murder weapons and other nefarious ways to do away with someone!

  6. Some awesome choices listed here.

    I'm currently writing a mystery and the murder weapons are diverse (some of them are even alive), but just like L.J. I really can't go into any more detail without giving away the plot.

    Marylin, I remember those rods. Ouch!

    Dani, wonderful. I like poisoning too.

    Peg, you're right. Ice bullets and intravenous air is dangerous. While in the Boy Scouts I took some First Aid training. We were taught how to inject intravenously and the nurse pointed out, several times, about pushing all the air out with the plunger.

    Jodie, Very nice compliment. Thank you!

  7. I love the creativity behind choosing a murder weapon. And I LOVED clue as a kid! I even wrote a book that has a live version of clue, but am not sure about the copyright of such a thing and so I sort of let it languish in my files. I should do some research and dust it off. :)


  8. I've used guns, knives, poison, and in my latest, fire. My favorite weapon, by far, has been a golf club. It just felt so satisfying, somehow. Maybe because my husband plays golf and would like me to learn.

  9. I loved playing clue. Mine was guessing it was Col Mustard in the Conservatory with the candlestick. Interesting weapon that.

    I am currently starting a murder mystery and since I don't quite know what weapon of choice my MC would use, I can't say at this point. Personally, I loved carrying my father's old Ruger 22 SLR under the front seat of my car when I drove across the US; he wanted me to be safe and I definitely know how to use one. The other gun I might be tempted to use in the story would be my father's 357 Colt Python, just not sure yet.

    Thanks for the post and for some interesting things to think about; came just in time. Love all the other comments, too.

  10. Hi Angela. Thanks for stopping by. A clue-based novel seems like a good idea. Yeah, dust it off, I say.

    Oh Gayle, a golf club. Dangerous things they are. Reminds me of the old quote: Never strike a caddie with the driver. The sand wedge is far more effective.

    Jacqueline, the Ruger 22 is also a personal favorite. Although the 357 is very impressive too. A bit too much of a recoil though.


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