Thursday, February 4, 2016

Murder in the Bedroom by Katherine Pym

Madam, did you murder your husband?

Apparently, bedrooms are perfect for murder. The victim is usually already in a prone position (won’t fall and break anything). The victim is usually already asleep so there’s no resistance to their demise. The mattress will soak up the blood, if that’s the way a murderer wants to perform the act. All he or she has to do is cover up the dead body with blankets already on the bed. 


We will kill them now
Authors have often killed off a person in the bedroom. Take Anya Seton in her Dragonwyck. She used the oleander flower to brighten up a sick room. I’ve read this plant is extremely poisonous. Even if a bee takes its pollen, and you later gather honey from said bee’s nest, eat the honey, you can fall very ill. I haven’t heard if you can die from the honey, though. Anya Seton merely had her naughty protagonist set an oleander plant near his sick wife’s bed. The next morning she was dead. Very cleanly done. No blood. Her body was already covered with blankets. 

Back in the day (maybe even now), some innkeepers (sort of like the dastardly couple in the musical Les Mis) would kill a wealthy customer for the gold he/she carried. One couple who owned the Crane Inn near Reading, England murdered wealthy patrons for years without getting caught. 

Waiting for the victim to drop
Their process was elaborate. They outfitted a bedroom located above the kitchen (nice and cozy in the winters I expect, what with heat rising, so a coveted room). The innkeepers nailed the bed to a trapdoor located over a huge boiling cauldron used to brew beer. When the trapdoor opened the poor victim fell off the bed into this boiling cauldron, clothes and all, he never had a moment to cry out but would be immediately parboiled, then drowned (sort of like the play Sweeny Todd but with water). The innkeepers would mount a ladder into the bedroom, steal all his goods, and reset the trapdoor. The body would then be cast into a local river. 

That seems like a lot of hard work. 

Then Thomas Harding (another author) wrote of a woman whose husband continually imbibed. One night she couldn’t take it anymore and sewed her dead-drunk husband very tightly in the bedclothes. She unstitched him the following morning to find him quite expired. The coroners said it was a stroke. On her wedding night with her next husband, she very casually told him what she had done. I’d wager the new husband didn’t sleep well that night. 

Someone died here
There are many bedrooms that are ghost ridden due to suicides, murders, and just plain natural deaths. There was a time when, if you tried to sell your home, the estate agent would ask if anyone died there. If you answered yes, the house would be difficult to sell. So, what do you say? 
Nothing, and do sleep well, tonight. 

 Many thanks to: Warm & Snug, The History of the Bed, by Lawrence Wright, First published 1962 by Routledge & Keagan Paul, Ltd. England
Pictures come from Wikicommon, public domain