Disposing of the body: a guide for world travellers.

You've killed your victim. You've cleaned up the gore and tidied away the evidence, but there's one last little problem: where to dispose of the body? You're in a strange city and don't know the locale.

Here, as a community service for serial killers on vacation, is a list of suggestions for dumping the body in various world cities.

Paris, France

Paris has a terrific disposal spot! First, place the body in a vat and render it down to bones. Now take the bones and visit the Catacombs of Paris. This is an underground ossuary which has been in use for over two centuries. The place is chock-a-block full of human bones; at least tens of thousands of them, many arranged in interesting patterns, but most simply stacked.

Be careful to place your new additions underneath some of the older existing ones.

New York, United States

Janet Reid, with whom I will be careful to avoid riding the subway, suggests: "You could stuff a body in an unused subway tunnel, cover it in lime, and Bob's your uncle. Your dead uncle, but still."

Sydney, Australia

Feed 'em to the sharks. This requires a boat - easy to come by in Sydney. It should be straightforward to disguise the body inside a sail bag. Sail out of the harbour onto open ocean, wait for sharks. Feed.

This innovative solution has only ever gone wrong once, but when it did, it was in spectacular fashion. In 1935, a recently captured shark at a public aquarium, while a crowd watched, disgorged a human arm, which proved to belong to an underworld identity who, funnily enough, had been missing for some days. Forensics was able to prove it was murder since the arm had been cut off, not torn. No one was ever tried for the crime, though one suspect was conveniently murdered on the day of the inquest.

London, Britain

Preparation is tricky here, but potentially very rewarding. Embalm body, treat with extra preservatives and stiffeners. Coat with wax. Carry to Madame Tussaud's.

Baltimore, United States

Janet likes an idea used in The Wire: If you're in Baltimore, you can just nail gun them into one of the vacant row houses and cover them with lime.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Annablume recommends Amsterdam for convenience factor and the short commute with your victim:

In Amsterdam it's common use to dump bodies into one of the canals. You won't have to walk far, you will find a canal within short distance.

I guess this will work for Venice too.

Aberdeen, Scotland

Bill suggests: Aberdeen's the oil capital of Europe. This means that lots of big pipes from the offshore installations get contaminated by Low Specific Activity scale - which is naturally occurring radioactivity that's sucked up from the reservoirs. They have to be brought ashore and treated in special facilities.

Drag your body (at dead of night, naturally), and stuff it into one of these pipes. No-one will come near it for ages.

The drawback is that your own skin will probably fall off on your way home.

Alternatively, using the same basic principle, you could drive the corpse up north, paint some luminous green spots on it and leave it exposed on the beach near the Dounreay reactor. Again, people will give it a wide berth.


The default solution for when your city doesn't have an obvious disposal spot: read the town's crime report, get a sense of where all the crime takes place, book a hotel far away from there, find a dumpster. Thank you, the very organized Miss Expatria.

Somewhat more difficult for the average mortal, Josephine Damian suggests CSI training should help with this problem. Enrol now.

Direct Democracy

Athens had a direct democracy. There was no parliament, or rather, every citizen belonged to the parliament. All citizens voted personally on every issue.

This works just fine as long as the whole citizenry can fit into one place, but breaks down as soon as your national population is larger than a town.

Modern democracies get around this problem by being representative democracies. The people choose representatives to decide for them, and government becomes the will of the people only by proxy; it is more accurately the will of the representatives. The only modern democracy I'm aware of that attempts to do direct democracy is Switzerland, which has a relatively small population in a tight space.

Thus, weirdly enough, the most democratic nation the world has ever seen was also the world's first; no nation has ever surpassed Classical Athens for maximising the power of each individual. (As long as the individual was an adult male, but that's another issue...)

Some people have thought hard about introducing modern direct democracy. It could be done, using the internet. The United States, or the European Union, or anywhere, could run the same system as Athens, so that every citizen could be given a vote on every issue, everything managed by an elected executive.

I'm not so sure this is such a great idea. It might be equivalent to putting control into the hands of the small number of people who control the media. Too many people will do what they're told by advertising. Certainly most people have their opinions molded by what they're told. Governments which control public access to information know this very well.

If America was Classical Athens

Since Presidential elections are somewhat on the mind at the moment, let me take a moment to describe how the voting system would work if the President was elected the same way as Classical Athens elected its executive government. I want to show just how radically different modern democracies are from the world's first.

Okay, so every citizen of the USA now belongs to one of 10 tribes. The split is arbitrary and has nothing to do with family relationships. It's more like having 10 non-geographic states where the populations of each state are mixed together.

Each tribe takes it in turn to supply the President for a year. So if your name is Obama or McCain but it's not your tribe's turn, then tough luck. The take-turns thing is to make sure no one party or clique can have power for long enough to take control of the country permanently.

Now here's the fun bit...when it's your tribe's turn to supply the President, ten candidates are selected by random lot from amongst the whole tribe. If your name is Obama or McCain it still won't do you any good, because the odds of you making it into the list are minimal.

All the citizens now get to vote from amongst this random selection. The winner is the President.

Consider what sort of President you're going to get if you had to choose amongst 10 random citizens. Obviously everyone is going to try and pick the most competent of the bunch, and party politics will have nothing to do with it. Some years there'll be a good guy or two in there, some years it'll be 10 losers to choose from.

To make it more fun, if we continue with the Athenian system, then all Supreme Court judges and the Federal Court are elected every year, the same way as the President.

Now let's imagine a United States in which the President and the Supreme Court is populated by chance and replaced every year. This is going to be a seriously weak executive and judiciary.

Is there anyone elected based on their merit?

Well yes, there is. The Joint Chiefs of Staff is elected every year, but unlike the executive branch, the armed forces Generals, ten of them, are selected on merit from amongst all the citizens, and unlike the President, competent Generals are allowed to serve any number of times.

So who do you think would be the most powerful group under the Athenian system? That's right, the military.

And that is why Pericles one of the greatest statesmen of all time, were he alive today, would be ruling America as a member of the Joint Chiefs. Which is exactly how he went about ruling Athens. That funny hat you always see him wearing in statues is actually a war helmet.

Of course under this system, there is something else missing: no Reps. No Senate. No elected politicians. Every citizen votes on every bill. Any citizen can propose a bill. Every citizen is a Senator. Because unlike America, and every other modern democracy, all of which are representative, Athens was a direct democracy; and that's the reason they were able to get away with the crazed system of executive government; because the sovereign power was very directly in the hands of every citizen.

Things I Will Do When I’m The Killer

The last in the series of helpful hints for what to do, and not do, if you find yourself a character in a mystery. Here are some helpful hints for when you are The Killer.

  1. I will not taunt the police by leaving weird clues. If I feel an irresistible urge to express my individuality, I will enroll in an art class.
  2. I will eschew exotic poisons, ingenious death traps, and homicidal pets.
  3. I will keep it simple. Nothing beats a drive-by shooting in a crowded street. If nothing else, the fifty witnesses will never agree on what they saw and will leave the jury too confused to convict.
  4. I will learn enough forensics not to fall for the detective’s ludicrous trap when he/she hints at having evidence he/she could not possibly have.
  5. I will not confess at the end of the book if the detective’s evidence is so weak that any judge would throw out the case.
  6. In fact, I will not confess at the end of the book, even if the detective’s case is ironclad, or if I’ve fallen into the detective’s trap. They still have to prove it in court, and it’s amazing what some juries will do.
  7. If my motive is transparent, I will not act until my false passport is ready and my wealth has been transferred to a bank in a country without an extradition treaty. Either that, or I’ll kill someone else instead.
  8. If my plan starts to unravel, I will not respond with a frenzied killing spree to cover my tracks (unless it helps me to relax). See previous point about false passports and countries without extradition.
  9. If the detective is an aged spinster, a pretentiously mannered middle-aged man, or some other irritating amateur, I will avoid most of my problems by refusing to talk to them. Better still, I will claim harassment from this nutter and ask a court to give me a protection order.
  10. If the detective is an embittered, cynical cop whose private life is falling apart, I will arrange for a lovely young lady to make his acquaintance. He will be so overcome with joy that he’ll neglect the case.
  11. If the detective has an infallible detective dog/cat/gerbil, I will accidentally discharge my shotgun. The penalty for killing a domestic animal is insignificant.
  12. Before committing the murder, I will check the police clear-up rate for my local district. If a master detective is in the area then a change of venue is called for. On second thoughts, I will stay where I am, murder the master detective first, before I have any motive to do so, then move on to the real victim.
  13. In choosing the venue for my crime, I will avoid overnight trains, cruise liners, isolated country houses, and the space shuttle.

If you've enjoyed Things I Will Do When I'm The Killer, have a look at these two:

Things I Will Do When I'm The Master Detective, and

Things I Will Do When I'm The Vital Witness

Please use comments to make your own suggestions!

Things I Will Do When I’m A Master Detective

Characters in mysteries make so many common mistakes! In these posts I list some helpful hints for what to do, and not do, if you find yourself a character in a mystery. Here are some helpful hints for when you are the Master Detective.

  1. When my spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend/child becomes entangled in the brutal murder, which seems to happen with unnerving frequency, I will immediately send him/her away on an overseas holiday. This will avoid the inevitable crisis in which he/she is threatened by the killer.
  2. I will stop to ask myself, how come my spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend/child always seems to be in the vicinity when a brutal murder happens?
  3. I will listen carefully for the one moment when my clueless sidekick says something useful, and not ignore it.
  4. I will check the birth records of all witnesses and suspects within the first hour to discover which of them are identical twins.
  5. While delivering my 15 page exposition at the end of the book on how I solved it, I will keep a close eye on the position of the murderer, relative to the murder weapon thoughtlessly left lying on the table.
  6. When the murderer takes a hostage to avoid capture right at the end, I will let my sidekick make the first move. With any luck I’ll get a more intelligent sidekick in the next book. Same goes for if the killer makes a run for it carrying a gun.

If you've enjoyed Things I Will Do When I'm A Master Detective, have a look at these two:

Things I Will Do When I'm The Killer, and

Things I Will Do When I'm The Vital Witness

Please use comments to make your own suggestions!

Things I Will Do When I’m The Vital Witness

Characters in mysteries make so many common mistakes! In the next three blog posts I will list some helpful hints for what to do, and not do, if you find yourself a character in a mystery. To start, here are some helpful hints for when you are the Vital Witness.

  1. When I’m woken in my lonely bed in the middle of the night, and hear a strange noise in the house, I will not creep downstairs calling out, “Hello? Is anyone there?”
  2. I will not try to blackmail the killer. It always ends in tears.
  3. If I decide to blackmail the killer anyway, I will first move to a distant country under a false name. Then I’ll let the killer know I know his identity by email, using an anonymous account.
  4. I will not turn up to collect the blackmail money. Direct deposit into my Paypal account will do just fine, thank you very much.
  5. If I know the killer is my dearest friend, I will quietly clue the police, and then act surprised when he's led away in handcuffs.
  6. Before I withhold vital information from the detective, I will check to make sure my life insurance is up to date.
  7. After I have withheld vital information from the detective, I will avoid being on my own or with only one other person. If necessary, I will move into a dorm at the local backpacker hostel. Under no circumstances will I walk down a lonely street at night.
  8. If the detective offers me police protection at night, I will say yes and invite the policeman into my bed. This won’t stop the moron from inevitably nodding off just at the moment when the killer comes for me, but at least he’ll die with me for his blunder.

If you've enjoyed Things I Will Do When I'm The Vital Witness, have a look at these two:

Things I Will Do When I'm The Killer, and

Things I Will Do When I'm A Master Detective

Please use comments to make your own suggestions!