Monday, September 26, 2011


Everyday dangers and their uses

Okay, I know, people tend to turn up their pointy noses about the threats in mystery and crime fiction. Don’t be too quick to jump on that bandwagon, folks. Your home is full of peril. After all, a high percentage of the population will die at home. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

This summer, in a scene straight out of the Three Stooges, I dropped a hairbrush on my little toe. The toe immediately swelled up and turned blue (although my imagination may be contributing to the extent of the swelling and the turning blue). It was inconvenient because I couldn’t get my shoe on and hard to get sympathy because it was, after all, a hairbrush injury. When I say hard to get sympathy, I mean that ‘my friends’ burst out laughing.

It was tough to deal with coming after my duvet injury, in which a freshly washed duvet and a shower curtain rod conspired to throw out my rotator cuff. Apparently, this was funny too. Then there was the incident of the wayward drink coaster (made out of a jagged piece of Canadian granite, but a coaster nevertheless). I have the scar and the sound of mocking laughter still echoes in my head. I have also learned the hard way exactly how heavy a new container of shower soap can be (details withheld). Until now, I have chosen not to mention this. I began to ask myself if, instead of mystery, I should be writing sit com – as I appeared to be living it.

But then I reviewed the incidents and what they had in common and found joy in my mystery writer’s soul. Here’s why: as you know, there are a limited number of weapons in the world. I thought I’d used them all: Guns, ropes, explosives, fire extinguishers, and cans of olive oil. But a hair brush? Never been done to my knowledge. They just don’t have that kind of rep. They’re boring. Harmless. Duvets. Ditto. Coasters? Ridiculous. I now look at every article in my household as a potential weapon, defensive of course, as I am clearly one of the good guys.

Shower soap may be my new best friend in the arsenal of crime fighting. Just don’t turn your back on it or me.

By the way, if you have a suggestion for something dangerous in your home (or some hilarious injury), this would be a good time to mention it.

Mary Jane Maffini rides herd on three (soon to be three and a half) mystery series and a couple of dozen short stories. Her thirteenth mystery novel, The Busy Woman’s Guide to Murder, which hit the bookshelves this spring, is brimming with names, no two the same.


  1. Apparently bagels are high risk. More people cut themselves messing about with bagels than anything else in the kitchen. Would you like a little cream cheese with that stab wound?

  2. I fantasize about acquiring a deadly cast iron skillet. We all know how dangerous greasy food can be for you. And how crush-worthy cast iron can be up against a skull. Old school can get the job done.