Poison can be defined as any substance that kills or injures.
How do we know which substances are poisonous? Easy answer. Any substance taken in a large enough dose can be toxic. However, for the purpose of writing mysteries, let’s talk about a couple of deadly poisons that could add a special something to a story. And one, well, let’s just leave it at it’s a bit bothersome trying to convince a healthy, grown man to insert a lethal dose of suppositories into a place where the sun rarely, if ever, shines. How’s that for a twisted tale? Pun intended.
Nicotine is a pale yellow to dark brown liquid.
An unsuspecting victim can succumb to this fishy smelling drug’s effects within a few short hours, but not before experiencing severe diarrhea, vomiting, difficulty breathing, irregular heartbeat, and twitching. The drug starts killing by depressing the brain and spinal cord. Then it paralyzes the skeletal muscles. Coma may precede death.
Symptoms of nicotine poisoning can begin as early as thirty minutes after exposure. A killer may introduce the poison through inhalation, skin absorption, eye contact, or ingestion.
METHODS OF DISSEMINATING NICOTINE
- Nicotine can be released into indoor air as a fine powder or liquid spray (aerosol).
- Nicotine can be used to contaminate water.
- Nicotine can be used to contaminate food.
- Nicotine can be released into outdoor air as a fine powder or liquid spray (aerosol).
- If released into the air as fine powder or liquid spray (aerosol), nicotine could contaminate agricultural products.
(Mickey Finn, Mickey, knockout drops)
This clear liquid is also available in powder, capsules, and suppositories (and you thought I was kidding in the first paragraph).
Chloral Hydrate is a central nervous system depressant and when taken orally, the onset of symptoms occur quickly. Some early symptoms of chloral hydrate poisoning/overdose are confusion, shallow respiration, coma, pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs), and absent reflexes.
An initial symptom of nicotine poisoning— drowsiness—can develop as quickly as 30 to 45 minutes. Death occurs within a few hours.
Chloral hydrate was one of the drugs found in Anna Nicole Smith’s body at the time of her death. The prescription for the drug was not in her name. Instead, it had been prescribed to Howard K. Stern, Smith’s friend, attorney, and companion.
After her death, Marilyn Monroe’s blood/ liver samples tested positive for both pentobarbital and chloral hydrate. Test results showed lethal concentrations of both.
Slip ’em a Mickey!
Mickey Finn, an Irish bar owner and top pickpocket in Chicago, is known for using a special concoction of drugs to spike the drinks of customers. Finn’s cocktail rendered consumers unconscious, an act that allowed the barkeep and the “house girls” to steal the unfortunate person’s valuables. The practice became known as slipping someone a Mickey, or giving them a Mickey Finn.