KN, p. 111 “50 More Ways to Die an Unnatural Death.”


Shovels anyone?

It’s well known that Kerrian’s Notebook readers are a fun bunch. The anniversary post of “100 ways to die an unnatural death” was the most popular new post of 2014.  So popular, in fact, that many readers clamored for more.


Bring on the groans! Here are another 50 ways to die an unnatural death. Some were accidental, but some were murderously carried out. Can you tell which was which?

101. Deck collapsed with dancing partiers on it, who then fell to death

102. Partier standing below the deck crushed by the falling debris

103. Tripped and fell downstairs, breaking neck

104. Hypothermia inside a car stuck in a snowstorm

105. Sneezed to death

106. Laughed to death – wife actually sent thank-you note to TV show, because her husband enjoyed his last moments so much.

107. Baked to death by sunburn

108. Impaled – Death by stingray barb to heart

109. Impaled thru eye

110. Impaled on ski pole


111. Impaled by fork lift

112. Crushed by car while lying under it to repair it.

113. Hit on head by falling coconut

114. Death by video game – played until exhausted and beyond

115. Decapitated by helicopter blade – careless

116. Decapitated by airplane propeller – murder

117. Decapitation by chain saw – self-inflicted

118. Death by eating four pufferfish livers

119. Overate at one meal

120. Overate during several hours of food competition


121. Crushed by a stack of falling coffins

122. Neck broken by flying coffin

123. Slow death by slicing off pieces of body a bit at a time

124. Crushed by cow falling through roof

125. Asphyxiation after being rolled into a gym mat

126. Hit by flying fire hydrant

127. Injected with dirty hypodermic needle

128. Hit in head by golf ball

129. Hit in head by 9-iron


130. Suffocated under a pile of elephant dung

131. Suffocated under a pile of sand

132.  Ink poisoning thru skin

133. Carbon monoxide poisoning

134.  Coal dust in lungs

135. Fell off a moving train

136. Trampled by cattle


137. Allergic reaction to bee sting


138. Stabbed with a pitchfork

139. Shot with nail gun

140. Drowned in vat of beer


141. Blown up by dynamite tossed out car window while window was closed

142. Ate the wrong kind of newt – ya know, the one with toxins in its skin

143. Fell off skateboard while holding onto a moving vehicle

144. Suffocation in cement at building site

145. Suffocation after being trapped in bank vault with no ventilation

146. Suffocation inside coffin when mistakenly thought to be dead in the first place.

147. Drowned in vat of chocolate

148. Sucked into an airplane engine

149. Fell out of exploding hot air balloon

150. Bashed on the head with a shovel


Sources? You may not believe it, but I come across these methods of death on an almost daily basis – either in the books I read, the news programs I watch, or in the movies.


The BIG question: Do you know whom to call to help with the shovels if the time comes?

Pass the pitchfork, please.  😉



*Photos by Patti Phillips – nobody died during the photo shoots. Honest.



Kerrian’s Notebook, p. 100 “100 Ways to Die an Unnatural Death”


Shovels anyone?

Kerrian’s Notebook has been around for 100 pages. That deserves some serious noisemakers. Maybe that should be 100 handcuffs rattling or 100 jail cells slamming shut on the bad guys, but whatever noise we use to celebrate? Make it loud. We love a party!

In honor of the 100 pages, here is a list of 100 ways to die by unnatural causes. A death certificate (which lists the cause of death) is issued after any death in the USA, whether natural or otherwise, but if the attending medical practitioner notes anything suspicious, an inquiry may or may not be conducted. Keep in mind that a law enforcement officer will only investigate these deaths if a dastardly deed is suspected. Sometimes, foul play is not always apparent.

Can you spot the ones in the list that indicate murder was afoot?

1)   Drowning in bathtub

2)   Drowning in ocean because of undertow

3)   Drowning in a molasses spill

4)   Suffocation by pillow

5)   Suffocation after entire body has been painted

6)   Hanging by rope

7)   Electrocution for death penalty

8)   Electrocution by hairdryer

9)   Electrocution by electrified fence

10) Electrocution while changing light bulb

11) Hit by lightning

12) Knife in the chest

13) Knife in the leg

14) Axe to the head

15) Bleeding out because of slit wrists

16)   Arson

17)   Gas leak in house

18)   Smoke inhalation

19)   Bullet to the head

20)   Accidental drug overdose

21)   Medical malpractice

22)   Tripped and hit head, cracking skull

23)   Beaten to death

24)   Death by roller coaster

25)   Vending machine fell with your arm in it

26)   Lethal mix of drugs and alcohol

27)   Alcohol poisoning

28)   Radiation poisoning

29)   Arsenic in tea

30)   Baked in an oven

31)   Allergic reaction to shellfish

32)   Allergic reaction to nuts

33)   Attacked by wolves

34)   Bitten by cobra

35)   Clawed by tiger

36)   Mauled by a shark

37)   Attacked by alligator – C.C.J.

38)   Bitten by several fire ants

39)   Bitten by poisonous spiders

40)   Crushed by boa constrictor

41)   Thrown from a horse

  42)   Trampled by elephants

  43)   Gored by a bull

  44)  Bitten by scorpion

  45)  Bitten by mosquito during sleep – allergic reaction to bite – B.R

  46)  Poisoned by contact with weed killers

  47)  Poisoned by ingesting toxic flowers/leaves


48)   Crushed by falling tree

49)    Stepped on a land mine

50)    Bomb explosion

51)    Rocket attack

52)    Hit in the head by a pitched ball

53)    Death in a boxing match

54)    Car accident, crushed

55)    Car accident, gas tank explodes

56)    Car accident – car ripped in half by telephone wire – anonymous

57)    Hit by a car while crossing the street

58)    Hit by commuter train

59)    Propane tank on BBQ exploded

60)    Chemical spill

61)    Airplane crash

62)    Airplane mid-air explosion

63)    Parachute didn’t open

64)    Parasail collided with cliff

65)    Choked on food

66)    Choked on bottle cap

67)    Pushed off a cliff

68)    Fell off a roof

69)   Jumped out a window

70)   Froze in a snow bank

71)   Stabbed with icicle

72)   Buried in an avalanche

73)   Fell off a ski lift

74)   Starved to death

75)   Mercury poisoning

76)   Asbestos poisoning

77)   Decapitation

78)   Strangled by another person

79)    Strangled – tie caught in laminating machine while wearing it

80)    Sword fight

81)    Sniper bullet

82)    Stabbed with knitting needle

83)    Hung upside down by feet until dead

84)    Death by dehydration

85)    Sinkhole collapsed with person in it – C.C.J.

86)    Latrine on flatbed of truck fell onto your car – J.P.M.

87)    Death by barbed wire fence – J.P.M.

88)    Cyanide salts in an almond cake – E.M.

89)    Elevator doors malfunctioned and closed on neck

90)    Walked into empty elevator shaft

91)    Jumped off diving board into empty pool

92)    Got stuck in a storm drain while trying to retrieve wallet

93)    Trapped inside a folding bed

94)    Buried under falling bookshelves

95)    Mangled by farming/industrial machinery

96)    Botulism

97)    Shot yourself while cleaning a gun

98)    Crashed into tree while ziplining

   99)   Bungee cord broke while jumping

  100)  Hypothermia


Sources? I’ve lived longer than I’d like to admit and over 90 of these deaths are ones I’ve heard about in the news or seen in the movies over the years. Some of the Kerrian’s Notebook readers have told me about a few more. Thanks to Barbara Rosario, Christy Crowley Johnson, Jessica Pettengill Messinger, and a person who prefers to remain anonymous, for their ripped-from-the-headlines suggestions. Thanks to mystery writer Edith Maxwell for an intriguing cause of death. I wonder if one of her books will include that COD? Remind me to stay away from any almond dishes at her house.  😉



*Photos by Patti Phillips, but nobody died while she was shooting them, nor is the body part in the fourth picture real flesh and blood.




KN, p. 133 “What poisons were in Agatha Christie’s books?”


Sheila is a big mystery buff and last weekend had a chance to attend an event in honor of Agatha Christie. Dame Christie’s crime fiction has been more widely read than any literary work in history, except for the Bible and Shakespeare. Pretty good resume.


One of the facts that Sheila came home bubbling about was that lots of Christie’s books featured poison as the weapon of choice. So, she asked me to find out how common those poisons were during the time that Christie was writing in the mid 1900s.


The answer? Agatha Christie used both common and unusual poisons in her books, some readily available in the garden shed, some found under the kitchen sink and others found only in pharmacies. She had been a real-life nurse during WW1 and had lots of chances to learn about, as well as use, many drugs – some of which could have been poisonous if mixed incorrectly or administered in too high a dose. In Christie’s 66 novels, she killed off over thirty unsuspecting characters with poison, some of which are described below. Her choices were based on what she needed to happen in the plot; did the killer have time to get away or did the storyline require a slow, unsuspicious death?


Arsenic – arsenic is a tasteless, odorless powder that dissolves nicely in hot liquids like tea or coffee. The victim doesn’t die right away, so the ‘nice neighbor’ can serve tea with cookies or muffins, then get away with murder when the victim dies hours later at home with a high enough dose. I’ve been told that it’s not a pleasant way to go, involving painful tingling in the hands and feet, kidney failure, abdominal cramping, arrhythmia, etc. Arsenic was used in “4.50 from Paddington.”


Belladonna – belladonna is a nightshade plant, with both the berries and leaves being really toxic. It was used in “The Caribbean Mystery.” Victims might have rapid heartbeat, blurry vision, and hallucinations, but can be saved by using an antidote.


Cyanide – created most famously from the seeds of almonds or cherries, cyanide poisoning is a rapid way to get rid of a victim – dead in just minutes with the right concentrated dose. The person’s breath is reputed to smell like almonds and the skin is tinged with pink after death. Cyanide was the poison of choice in “And Then There Were None,” and several other Christie books.


Morphine – used as a painkiller in normal circumstances, morphine can be deadly if administered incorrectly – and Christie used that fact effectively in a pot of tea in “Sad Cypress.” A great twist in the storyline diverts attention away from the murderer while he ‘does the deed.’


Strychnine – it only takes two to three hours to die from strychnine poisoning and it’s not a nice way to croak. Muscle contractions start and spread, increasing in intensity, until the victim has respiratory failure. Christie chose this method for her first novel, “Affair at Styles.”


While poisons may be a fascinating way to kill somebody on the page, in fact, it’s not used that often in real life. And unlike blunt force trauma as a cause of death, the use of poison is not always obvious at the crime scene. Autopsies have to be performed to discover what happened, with special tox screens needed to pinpoint any poison used.


According to the FBI stats on murder victims in the USA as of 2011, over 8,000 people died because of firearms, and only 5 (five) because of a deadly dose of poison. If you include narcotics in that number, the victims increase to 34.


But, it certainly makes the poisoner that gets caught, unlikely to get a reduced sentence. I doubt that a lawyer could explain away arsenic in the tea.


*Photo by Patti Phillips


FBI data from:




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