Please help me welcome Terry Korth Fischer as today’s Wednesday’s Guest. I previewed her newest book, Gone Astray, on Sunday, and the book released on February 15.
If you live anywhere in the central part of the U.S. from Texas up to North Dakota, you need lots of hot chocolate to stay warm. I’m adding a little extra warmth to mine. If you ever went ice-fishing with your dad and shared his coffee, you know what I mean, and it’s not marshmallows. 🙂
Now, here’s Terry.
Pass the strychnine, please
One of the decisions made before drafting a murder mystery is what instrument to use when committing the crime. In some cases, it is a choice between a candlestick in the library and a rope in the conservatory, but it might be a handgun, a stiletto, or a Lamborghini. Of course, there are other considerations like, is the murder premeditated, and does the killer get the opportunity, but the instrument itself is always vital. And then, once selected, a host of other factors present themselves.
For my next mystery project, I decided on death by poison. I have a handy-dandy softcover book on poisons to aid me in the search for the perfect substance. It isn’t the be-all and end-all. Instead, it is a jumping-off point from where I can begin research. Chasing one piece of information often leads me to making additional discoveries, and that is where my imagination starts to zing. However, this time, I started my search while I was spending time with a new friend—and not a mystery writer friend.
It was a perfect day for a garage sale. The clouds threatening rain had dissipated. It wasn’t too hot nor too cool. The merchandise was placed on tables in the driveway and sprinkled on blankets across the lawn. After the early browsers rambled through, the trickle of shoppers slowed and then stopped altogether. My friend went into the house, and I sat alone on a lawn chair by the shrubbery at the edge of the drive. Naturally, I decided to use the lull to work on the mystery’s details. I just happened to have my poison book with me; so, I pulled it out and started to flip through the pages.
The book is divided into sections: lethal items found in every kitchen, gardening chemicals, pharmaceuticals, plants, and the like. The wonderful thing about this book is it also tells how long it takes the average person to die and the physical reactions after administration. I was happily looking for a tasteless poison, with a three-hour window from ingestion to death, which wouldn’t be too messy, when my new friend returned.
“Looking for the perfect poison,” I said, holding up the cover of the book for her to see. I could tell from her wide-eyed stare this wasn’t the answer she expected. Acting more patient-parent than blossoming-buddy, she took the chair next to me in the shade of the hedge and waited for an explanation. I wasn’t sure there was one she would understand. I hesitated.
“Uh, huh. Poison.” She waved a pesky fly away. “And that would be because…”
“I’m writing a book.”
I caught the glance she shot me from the corner of her eye as she crossed one leg over the other and folded her arms against her chest.
“I write mystery.” I thought it was sufficient explanation, but her dangling foot started to bob up and down in nervous jerks. “Murder mysteries,” I added.
She nodded. “And you carry a book around on the subject?”
There it was—the accusation. Are you normal?
At that moment, I felt misunderstood—a reaction akin to the dread that someday the FBI will look at my browsing history. I wanted to shout, “Writers do these things. We visit topics the average citizen would never contemplate—it is part of the job.”
Luckily, my new friend lost her anxiety when curiosity took over. “What kind of poison do you like?”
My finger rested between the pages, marking the strychnine and alkaloids write-ups. “Well…” I looked over my shoulder and at the hedge. “Take these yew bushes, for example…”
A heart attack sends detective Rory Naysmith reeling. Too young to retire, he accepts a position in small-town Winterset, Nebraska. Handed an unsolved truck hijacking case, and the assistance of a rookie, Rory sets out to prove he is still able to go toe-to toe with men half his age. When the body of a Vietnam veteran turns up, he dons his fedora and spit-shines his shoes. But before he can solve the murder, an older woman disappears, followed closely by a second hijacking. He doggedly works the cases, following a thread that ties the crimes together. But can Rory find the mental and physical strength to up his game and bring the criminals to justice before disaster strikes?
Terry Korth Fischer writes short stories, mystery, and memoir. Her memoir, Omaha to Ogallala, released in 2019, S&H Publishing, Inc. and Gone Astray, her debut mystery, The Wild Rose Press, in 2021. Her short stories have appeared in numerous print anthologies and online magazines. Terry is a member of SinC, Pennwriters, Inc. and Clear Lake Area Writers. Transplanted from the Midwest, Terry lives in Houston with her husband and their two guard cats.
Thanks so much to Terry for the fun post. I loved the last line. Reminded me of the last line in Arsenic and Old Lace, “Do you want some elderberry wine?”
Stay safe and stay warm.