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Cause of Death: A Writer’s Guide to Death, Murder, & Forensic Medicine, Keith D. Wilson, M.D.

This is part of the Writer’s Digest “Howdunnit” series–aids for the mystery writer when constructing a story. There’s a lot of great information here, from the description of how an emergency room is arranged and operated, to the same for an autoposy, to numbers for ways in which people die by suicide, homicide and accidents. Wilson uses some quotes from books–mystery and otherwise–to illustrate his sections. I can’t say much for his choice of quotes, especially this one from Robin Cook’s Mortal Fear:

“Glancing up at the monitor, which still showed normal ECG activity, Jason touched Cedric’s neck. He could feel no pulse.

‘Let me have a cardiac needle,’ he demanded. ‘And someone get a blood pressure.’ A large cardiac needle was thrust into his hand as he palpated Cedric’s chest to locate the ridge of the sternum.”

I imagine that it might be difficult to continue to work after someone thrust a huge needle into your hand, eh? Such wonderful writing to be used as a model for would-be authors. I also noticed that Wilson is in love with the M.D. designation following his name. His name never appears in the book without it. From the use of quotes from his own published novels, and from the fiction that he created from this book, its obvious that the M.D. never helped his fiction writing any, other than provide him the information that makes up this book. Maybe it did help him understand the material presented here; at least enough to present it in a clear and readable manner. I plan to go on and check out the other books in this series, but I hope the other authors are better fiction writers than this guy.

[Finished 29 September 1993]


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