When I started my first mystery novel, Double Duplicity: A Shandra Higheagle Mystery, I had a “novel” way for the victim to be stabbed. While writing the story I had to write the scene when my main character the amateur sleuth, who in the first book hadn’t had any mystery/murder events in her life to that point.
The first thing I did was connect online with a forensic coroner who explained different types of stabbing with me. I asked if my murder weapon (not a knife but I won’t say what it is in case you haven’t read the book ;)) would cause spatter. Would the person who used the weapon have blood on them?
This is what the specialist said:
1) The “spatter” will depend on what the blade hits and the overlay of clothing.
2) Each rib has an artery that runs on the bottom side, in a groove (the intercostal artery). Hitting one of these, or tearing it by breaking the rib, will cause more bleeding—most of which will be internal—into the chest cavity.
3) There’s not likely to be any spatter until the weapon is pulled out; most of the external bleeding comes from removing the weapon.
4) If the weapon hits the heart, a lot more bleeding will happen—again, mostly internal, but some external. The right side of the heart is closest to the chest wall; this is the lower pressure side of the heart.
5) After the weapon is removed, blood leakage will be a pulsatile ooze, but not shoot across the room.
6) If the lung is hit, the biggest risk is air leakage in the chest (pneumothorax) and
bleeding in the chest cavity (hemothorax) or both (hemopneumothorax). The blood leakage from the chest is a frothy red/pink, as it’s full of air.
7) Clothing is going to make spatter much less likely, except for removing the weapon.
Here’s an article the specialist suggested:
Here is the scene where Shandra finds the gallery owner.
“Paula?” A light shone around the edges of the partially open office door. Shandra pushed the door open. “Why aren’t you answer—”
Paula’s arms hung splayed away from her body that was cradled in her leather office chair. A large red patch spread across her body and lifeless eyes stared up at the ceiling.
Shandra backed out of the room. She couldn’t swallow for the lump of fear and vileness she’d just witnessed.
“Think… Call the police.” She punched in 9 as sirens shrieked and grew louder. “Maybe they’re coming here.” They had to be coming here. This town is too small for there to be two incidents where the cops are needed at the same time.
And this is what the seasoned detective thought when he walked into the same room.
He slipped his pack off his shoulder and extracted booties and latex gloves from the outside pockets before swinging it back onto his shoulder. He pulled the booties over his cowboy boots and wrestled his hands into the latex gloves.
The metallic tang of blood assaulted his nostrils as he stepped into the room. The scent stopped his feet and sent his mind spinning back in time to the gang fight he’d walked into in Chicago. There were many who left the alley in body bags. The scent of blood had permeated the whole alley where the two gangs had used every weapon they could get their hands on to annihilate the other.
His month long hospital stay, six months of grueling rehab, and then facing the leaders of the gangs as he testified at their trials was one horrendous bad dream. As soon as his part in the trials was over, his resignation hit the commander’s desk and he came home.
Ryan shook his head clearing it of the past and stared at the woman sprawled in the chair, staring at the ceiling. His gaze immediately landed on the large dark spot covering her chest. From lack of blood on the floor, if it was a bullet, it didn’t exit the back. Making it a small caliber and less likely anyone heard the shot. He peered closer. The large amount of blood and ripped clothing around the wound dismissed his thoughts of it being a bullet that caused the wound.
He slipped a hand into the outside pocket of the backpack and pulled out his digital camera. The click of photos one by one capturing the scene from all angles, triggered his detective mode. He forgot all else, moving in a circle, closing in on the body. Standing over the body, he looked straight down at her chest. The torn clothing at the entry sight and the gaping hole with pink foam…this wasn’t caused by a clean stab of a knife, it was viciously twisted to cause maximum damage.
Depending on the person and their knowledge it makes a difference in how the research is used.
Shandra Higheagle Mystery Series Books
Murderous Secrets – coming the end of September
Writing into the Sunset