Random Thought: Why Murder Mysteries Never Talk About This...?
So listen (err, read). I finished reading Chaos by Patricia Cornwell a couple of weeks ago. Now, for those familiar with the series, it follows the narrative of a medical examiner using her profession of forensics and pathology to out-craft a crafty criminal or two. Good deal, right? Sure. But here’s what bits of illumination crawled across my mind during my reading of the book. Given that the series follows the theme of death and autopsies, why do authors skip details related to one particular ickier part of death? What's that I have in mind? Well...shit... Sure many of us don’t need that piece of detail, but let’s talk about it all the same. Writers setting up a crime or autopsy scene are quick to dish details such as the body’s temperature (algor mortis). Then there’s the examination of the body’s state/condition–as an observation of this can help relay the time of death. Authors will relay to the reader if the victim is in a state of rigor mortis (where the body's muscles stiffen shortly after death). Rigor mortis can last for about a day or two–give or take. Which, once observed, helps the reader and protagonist unfold the crime with an invaluable clue. But what if the body is foundafter its been through rigor? The author will, of course, then relay how the body is in a relaxed state of livor mortis (where gravity pools blood in the body).
So with those many relaxed muscles–including the body’s sphincter–why do authors never describe a pile of shit stuck underneath the victim? Okay, okay. Sure this doesn’t always happen–given all your muscles are too relaxed to push anything from your gut. But because it does happen, why have I yet to read a fictional crime scene where the author describes a corpse’s having released his or her bowels or bladder? Though a murder victim can hardly be described with pleasantries, I would like to read an author just once take it a step grosser. That’s right. Gross me all the way out!