Wishing You a Joyous Winter Holiday

Happy Holidays


May You and Yours Be Filled

With Joy and Peace

During This Holiday Season

Posted in A Christmas Greeting, A Holiday Wish, About James J. Murray, Happy Holidays, Happy Winter Holiday, James J. Murray Blog, Merry Christmas, My Holiday Wish | 4 Comments

Does ALMOST DEAD Still Mean “Dead”?

When someone dies, they’re dead—right? Well . . . maybe not. And when someone dies at the hand of another, that’s labeled a murder—correct? Well . . . maybe!

Sure, there are various degrees of murder—ranging from intentional to unintentional with legal terms such as 1st degree, 2nd degree, negligent homicide, etc—but what if the dead person simply wakes up and walks out of the morgue?

Is that considered a murder or an “almost murder” if the person wakes up the next day and recovers from that dastardly deed?

Well, that’s simply crazy. People are either dead or not, and dead people don’t just get up and walk away—or do they?

What about a person who appears dead with all the diagnostic clues: no muscle, corneal or gag reflexes? They may be pronounced dead, but are they truly dead beyond a shadow of a doubt?

I wrote a short novel a couple of years ago which used that very premise to create a most interesting tale—two murdered people wake up the next morning and simply continue on with their lives.

Impossible, you say? Maybe, but there is science to explain such events and drugs do exist that can be used to mimic death to make such things possible. I used both the science of physiology and some interesting pharmaceuticals to make that very thing happen.

This is a short synopsis of my book:

Detectives Rosie Young and Vince Mendez chase an elusive villain when two victims turn up alive less than twenty-four hours after their death. The body count climbs as they investigate how two unrelated victims share an identical death experience with no memory of the event. Evidence leads to startling revelations of deceit, greed and an international conspiracy in this entertaining mystery.

This relatively short murder mystery is fast-paced, dynamic and often read in one sitting. Five-star reviews state that it kept readers up at night and the book has been described as “Murder She Wrote” meets “CSI” for its attention to detail, while being fun to read.

Find out how “almost dead” may not really mean dead!


Click Here for Amazon Download

(Also Available in Paperback –> For Easy Gift-Giving!)

Click Here for non-Kindle Downloads

Posted in A Christmas Gift Idea, A Murder Mystery Novel, A Mystery Novel, A New Novel By James J. Murray, About James Osborne, About Murder, Almost Dead, Almost Dead-The Novel, Blog Writers, Blogging, Bloodless Death Scenes, Designing Murder Plots, Drug Misadventures, Fiction Based on Facts, Fiction Based on Real Life, James J. Murray, James J. Murray Blog, James J. Murray's ALMOST DEAD, Murder Mayhem and Medicine, Murder Mystery Novel, New Blog, New Murder Mystery Novel, Prescription For Murder Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Silent Criminal

Early in my blogging days, I wrote a blog describing the perfect drug as a murder weapon, and last year I wrote a blog about how to not get caught committing the perfect crime.

In that blog about not getting caught, I mentioned that a full one-third of all murders remain unsolved—a staggering 200,000 cases in the last 50 years. Prior to that time, the clearance rate (defined as identifying a suspect and eventually going to trial or securing a plea deal) was over 90%.

There are several reasons why so many murders remain unsolved today. They include 1) harder standards for charging someone for murder than in the past, 2) deteriorating relationships between police and the public, and a sense of distrust of the police and “the system” that creates a reluctance for potential witnesses to testify, and 3) stranger-to-stranger homicides with few or no suspect leads.

Recently, I was discussing “the perfect murder” subject with a past law enforcement officer and a defense attorney. As you can imagine, the discussion with those two individuals was lively and all sorts of reasons why criminals get caught came out of that conversation.

In essence, however, it boiled down to those who commit serious crimes like murder get caught simply because they are sloppy. They leave DNA evidence, they murder someone known to them and trace evidence somehow gets linked back to them, they have poor or insufficient alibis, and they tend to keep and hide the murder weapon or use a weapon that easily connects back to them.

One particular fact that both the law enforcement officer and the defense attorney agreed with about why criminals get caught is that they talk too much!

The one overall comment on how to commit the perfect murder amounted to “don’t talk about it.” They both agreed that suspects often put the spotlight on themselves by saying too much.

Even if murderers left no trace DNA behind that linked back to them, made sure that the victim and the place of the crime or the murder weapon did not somehow connect them to the crime, they could still incriminate themselves by simply opening their mouths and speaking.

These two professionals told me that criminals usually either over explain or provide critical judicial information to friends, relatives, and acquaintances unknowingly and that information leads police to suspect them; or, they say something in an interrogation that only the guilty party would know.

Experts say that those who have committed a serious crime should walk away and never talk about it—to anyone! They should also avoid television news and newspapers. Police use these media tools to try to psych out suspects into celebrating their crime, thus putting a spotlight on their criminal activity. Criminals somehow eventually vary their daily routines or try to run and that creates interest in their changed lifestyle.

Also, if a suspect is actually arrested, the best way to give the authorities additional evidence is to open his or her mouth to talk about the crime in any way. Police need evidence to convict a suspect. If the criminal has committed the crime perfectly, there will not be enough evidence against the suspect and the police will be “fishing” for any tidbit of information that may not be consistent with the person’s innocence. There are very specific reasons why the first thing an attorney advises a client is this. “Don’t talk to anyone about the crime—the police, civilians, or anyone while in custody.”

The best legal advice, I’m told, is for an arrested person to not speak—AT ALL. Anytime a person speaks in an interrogation, on the witness stand, or to another inmate, that could help the police connect the dots to the crime by giving testimony to facts that only the criminal could know. Whenever a suspect is on the other side of an interrogation room table, anything coming out of the mouth of that suspect is fair game to link that person in some way to the crime.

Any criminal suspect that goes to trial must be found guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The silent criminal has a much better chance of being found not guilty by not testifying in any way, and he or she may not even get to the point of a trial if that person remains silent during the interrogation and holding process; that is, as long as that suspect has done the proper job of not leaving ANY other evidence to link them to the crime.

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

Posted in A How To Blog on Murder Plot Ideas, A How To Blog on Murder Weapons, About James J. Murray, About Murder, All About Murder, Blog Writers, Blogging, Characteristics of Killing, Characteristics of Murder, Committing The Perfect Murder, Evidence Free Murder, James J. Murray Blog, Methods of Murder, Murder Mayhem and Medicine, New Blog, New Methods of Murder, Plotting The Perfect Murder, Prescription For Murder Blog, the perfect crime, the perfect murder, Unique Murder Plots | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Here in the United States, it is Thanksgiving time—Thursday, November 22nd to be exact.

It’s a day of fantastic food feasts, with the bonus of a long holiday weekend ahead. I hope the day is extra special for all of my US readers.

More importantly, it’s a time to all of us to reflect on what makes our lives so special and rewarding, and what makes us thankful when we think back on the current year and the events that have shaped our lives in the recent past.

This year I am especially thankful to all of my readers across the world for supporting and encouraging my work as an author.

You continue to inspire me!


I wish you much success at being thankful on a daily basis for all the good things that happen in your lives and I hope the not-so-good things are minimal.


Posted in About James J. Murray, About Writing, Being Thankful, Being Thankful Every Day, Being Thankful For Your Life, Blog Writers, Blogging, James J. Murray Blog, New Blog | 2 Comments

Strychnine – A Dramatic Poison!

Historically, strychnine is one of the more popular methods that writers have used to kill off characters in literature and film. Even the queen of murder mystery writing, Agatha Christi, used this method in her works.

The primary source of this poisonous alkaloid is from the seeds of the nux vomica tree (S. nux-vomica) found in southern Asia, especially in India, and in some parts of Australia. The chemical is still used today in some rat poisons, and as a stimulant administered by veterinarians in small doses.

In the past, strychnine was available in tablet form to treat a variety of human ailments. Although that is no longer the case, strychnine is sometimes found mixed with street drugs (such as LSD, heroin and cocaine) and smoked or snorted. The results are often fatal.

This lethal substance was discovered in the early 1800s by two French chemists. The primary action of strychnine is to increase the flex of the spinal cord, thereby causing severe contractions of the back muscles. Unnatural arching of the back is a common symptom of strychnine poisoning. The backward arching can be so severe that the spinal cord will often break due to the extreme posturing that results from larger doses.

Strychnine is a white, odorless but somewhat bitter crystalline powder that can be ingested by mouth, inhaled, or mixed into a solution and injected directly into a vein. If given by mouth or injected into muscle tissue, strychnine rapidly enters the blood stream and severe symptoms of poisoning appear within about 20 minutes. If injected directly into a vein, symptoms begin almost immediately. This follows the general rule of intravenous injections: “One mg of dose equals an almost immediate one mg of therapeutic or detrimental effect.”

The chemical is not very soluble in water and only a little more soluble in alcohol and other organic solvents. Therefore, when mixed in a solution for injecting, the crystalline powder will not dissolve completely.

If the poison is added to food, the food choice would have to have a very strong taste to overcome the exceptional bitterness of strychnine. A better method of poisoning your villain in your writing is by inhalation of the powder released into the air. Rapid absorption through the nose, eyes and mouth mucous membranes usually results in a lethal outcome.

The symptoms of strychnine poisoning begin with abdominal cramps that progress to general muscle cramping. These culminate in powerful and very painful convulsions resulting from severe muscle contractions. These convulsions (or what has been referred to as “strychnine fits”) may stop after about a minute. However, at the slightest touch, a noise, or some other minor stimulus, the convulsions reoccur. The arms and legs stretch out and become rigid, uncontrollable arching of the neck and back occur, the jaw tightens, breathing becomes difficult, and painful muscle spasms leading to dangerous spikes in body temperature occur. These are all dramatic symptoms of strychnine poisoning, and this makes for writing powerful, theatrical murder scenes.

Even though the person remains conscious and is aware of what’s happening, the victim cannot control the extreme muscle spasms and becomes very excitable and experiences extreme pain. Eventually, the victim’s muscles tire and the cause of death is usually from asphyxiation resulting from the continuous spasms of the respiratory muscles. The person simply cannot move the diaphragm muscles to breathe.

If medical help is available and aid is given quickly, a person may survive a strychnine poisoning event. Treatment consists primarily of respiratory supportive care and intravenous fluids, medications to suppress the convulsions and spasms, and cooling measures for the usual rapid increase in body temperature.

It is most important to remove any clothing contaminated with strychnine by cutting it away from the body rather than pulling it over the head and risking inhalation of the lethal chemical. It is also important to flush the skin, eyes, nose and mouth of the victim, while at the same time making sure that those aiding the victim do not touch any contaminated clothing or affected areas of the victim’s body. If proper precautionary measures are not taken, those offering supportive help might inadvertently contaminate themselves in the process.

Strychnine is truly a dramatic way to kill off a villain in your novel. However, since it has been a favorite method to kill off characters in the past, make sure your murder scene is set uniquely and administer the poison in an unusual way to impress your readers.

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

Posted in A How To Blog on Murder Plot Ideas, A How To Blog on Murder Weapons, About James J. Murray, About Medications/Pharmacy, About Murder, About Writing, All About Murder, Blog Writers, Blogging, Bloodless Death Scene Writing, Botanical Murder Weapons, Botanicals That Kill, Chemical Poisons, Chemical Weapons Discussions, Chemicals Used For Murder, Creating Emotional Drama in a Murder Scene, Deadly Plant Poisons, Deadly Poisons Discussed, Designer Poisons Used For Murder, Designing Murder Plots, Developing Story Plots, Developing Storyline Ideas, Dramatic Murder Weapons, Drugs Used For Murder, Drugs Used to Murder, How to Choose a Murder Weapon for a Plot Idea, How To Write A BloodLess Murder Scene, Ideas for Murder Scenes, Interesting Murder Weapons, James J. Murray Blog, Killing Off Characters in Writing, Killing Off Characters in Your Novel, Lethal Botanicals, Lethal Chemical Poisons, Lethal Chemicals in Murder Mysteries, Methods of Murder, Murder Mayhem and Medicine, Murder Weapons Discussed, New Blog, New Methods of Murder, New Methods To Kill Characters in Your Novel, Nux Vomica Tree Poison, Poisonous Alkaloids, Poisonous Plants, Prescription For Murder Blog, Strychnine Poisoning, The Science of Murder, The Writings of James J. Murray, Tools for Murder, Ways To Kill, Ways to Murder | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Do People Kill?

It’s a simple question, but people have been struggling to find the answer for centuries. In a previous blog I discussed the core legal definition of murder, but I asked this very question as I researched the subject.

Law enforcement officials are burdened with this same question as they search for the core reason why a person commits murder. It’s an important legal step in determining how the accused will be charged with, and eventually convicted of, the crime.

In this enlightened age of science and technology, there are numerous methods to identify a murderer and to determine how the murderous deed was accomplished, but the “Why” of killing still baffles many Profiling a murderer has gained much ground as a science, but it falls short of definitively answering the question, “Why do some kill to accomplish a specific goal and others choose less lethal methods?”

It’s been documented that the central reasons people kill are for POWER and CONTROL. Yet, we have many influential, successful professionals who don’t murder and never say, “The devil made me do it.”

Of the numerous personality disorders, statistics show that almost 50% of Americans fit into one or more of the anti-social personality disorder classifications at one time in their lives. So, is it a coincidence that the US has the highest rate of serial killers than any other country in the world? But what makes specific people turn to murder?

People decide to kill because of a psychological build-up of physical or emotional trauma over time. The initial triggers are numerous but the major ones are fear, anger, desperation, greed and religious fanaticism.

These initial triggers can be exacerbated when ones natural inhibitions are removed (as with alcohol or mind-altering drugs). For instance, an otherwise rational person could act out inappropriate anger in the form of road rage while under the influence of a psychotropic drug.

Dr. Paul Mattiuzzi has lectured that individual personality traits play a key role in how certain triggers can evolve into acts of violence and murder. Chronically aggressive individuals as well as those with opposite traits, such as overly suppressed hostility, can react similarly in threatening situations. And those who suggested are emotionally resentful from a past severe hurt or trauma can become similarly and inappropriately aggressive in specific situations.

So we have to dig deeper to find the emotional triggers that motivate people to murder. A person may not like his or her significant other, but why does one seek a separation or divorce while another plans a murder? Why does one person work harder to outperform a competitive coworker while another plans an intricate murder? Does it all come down to an evolution of a personality disorder? That certainly makes for interesting murder mystery writing, but is there more involved?

My previous blog suggested that three factors influence a person to kill: genetics, brain malfunctions and various forms of abuse. Experts in criminology usually agree that a specific event in a killer’s life triggers the psychology that eventually preoccupies the mind to act out criminally; and, without proper psychological and pharmaceutical intervention, the need for a specific inappropriate act eventually can become an obsession. This is what leads to the development of major criminals, and certainly serial killers.

The mind and its manipulation, either intentionally or accidentally, is interesting subject matter and allows for unique character development. It’s those unusual characters that make a story interesting and give value to you as their creator. Happy Writing!

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

Posted in a killer gene, About James J. Murray, About Murder, About Writing, All About Murder, All About Writing, Better Fiction Writing, Blog Writers, Blogging, Character Development Techniques, Characteristics of a Fictional Character, Characteristics of Killing, Characteristics of Murder, Creating Emotional Drama in a Murder Scene, Creating Interesting Fiction Characters, Creating Unique and Interesting Character Flaws, Deciding How to Kill Off a Character in a Novel, Deciding What Types of Fictional Characters Fit Into Your Plot, Defining Murder, Designing Murder Plots, Developing Story Arcs, Developing Story Plots, Developing Storyline Ideas, Fiction Based on Facts, Fiction Based on Real Life, Fiction Writing - A Believable Lie, Fictional Character Development, Ideas for Murder Scenes, James J. Murray Blog, Killing Off Characters in Writing, Killing Off Characters in Your Novel, Methods of Murder, Murder - The True Definition, Murder is Defined, Murder Mayhem and Medicine, New Blog, Plot Development, Plot Ideas and Where They Come From, Plotting Interesting Murder Scenes, Plotting Murder Scenes, Prescription For Murder Blog, Reasons Why People Kill, Reasons Why People Murder, Story Development, The Art of Storytelling, The Art of Writing, The Psychology of Murder, The Science of Murder, The Warrior Gene, Types of Fictional Characters, Unique Murder Plots, Why People Kill | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

MURDER – The True Definition!

The criminal act known as MURDER is defined in a number of ways, but in most references the definition is distilled to the following words: an unlawful killing with malice. The words unlawful and malice give the term its defining structure and distinguishes the act from acceptable killings, such as in times of war or other justifiable homicides

In researching the law related to killings, a murder can be defined by three basic characteristics and those must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt: 1) the act of causing a death must be deliberate, meaning it must be premeditated and calculated; 2) the act must be intentional to either kill, cause grievous bodily harm or be one of reckless indifference to human life; and 3) the act must not have been carried out in self-defense.

But beyond those specific legal references, I’ve been thinking about what really defines a murder. So I asked myself the same questions I suspect that writers of murder mystery TV shows must determine before writing an episode: “Why do people kill?” and “Why choose to kill rather than seek other, less consequential ways to solve a problem?”

Well, it turns out that science has the answers. It seems that the rationalizations for murder are much more complex than simply motive, method and opportunity.

Current science tells us there are three main reasons why people choose to kill over other, less violent methods of resolving a major issue in their lives.

One is genetics. People who turn to killing are thought to be naturally more aggressive and it’s often because they inherit one or more specific genes for violence. These so-called warrior genes are specifically tied to a predisposition to violence and aggression.

Another involves a brain malfunction. For instance, a loss of brain function in, or a failure to properly develop, the frontal lobe can lead to violence and murder.

The frontal lobe (that part of the brain under our foreheads and behind our eyes) contains the coding for ethics and morality. It’s also the center for impulse control. So any frontal lobe damage or misdirected development can lead to miscues of ethics and moral decision-making, causing improper responses to life’s everyday challenges.

The third reason people turn to lethal violence is abuse. This can be sexual, psychological or physical in nature. Abuse during the childhood years are the most damaging and can lead to psychopathologies later in life. The specific type of abuse, along with the intensity and duration of the abuse, often determines the specific psychopathology that may result.

As one can expect, specific tendencies to MURDER may develop as a result of a combination of these factors. A violent genetic predisposition may play a greater role when a child is abused and yet be inconsequential if the child is the product of a stable, caring family environment. A child with frontal lobe abnormalities may be channeled into a productive life if taught to control improper impulses, but spin out of control in an abusive environment. 

The combinations are endless, and so are the resulting pathologies and potential murders that can result.

There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to the urge to kill. The motivations and underlying pathologies are as numerous as its methods, but there is one common factor in almost every murder—the killer feels strongly justified, no matter how malicious the act.

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

Posted in A How To Blog on Murder Plot Ideas, A How To Blog on Murder Weapons, About James J. Murray, About Murder, About Writing, Blog Writers, Blogging, Characteristics of Killing, Characteristics of Murder, Deciding How to Kill Off a Character in a Novel, Defining Murder, Designing Murder Plots, Developing Story Plots, Developing Storyline Ideas, Ideas for Murder Scenes, Instruments of Death, James J. Murray Blog, Killing a Villain in a Novel, Killing Off Characters in Writing, Killing Off Characters in Your Novel, Murder - The True Definition, Murder is Defined, Murder Mayhem and Medicine, Neuroscience and Murder, New Blog, Plotting Murder Scenes, Prescription For Murder Blog, Reasons Why People Kill, The Killer Gene, The Psychology of Murder, The Science of Murder, Tools for Murder, Tools of Murder, Ways To Kill, Ways to Murder, Writing Death Scenes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments