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10 Quotes from Crime Fiction to Help You Get away with Murder

Bookwitty By Bookwitty Published on August 25, 2016

We’ve all been there. It could be a neighbor, a long-time friend, your housemate, or an unfortunate colleague, but sooner or later, you’re going to want someone dead. It may only be an idle musing, something you think about before you've had your morning coffee, but it’s important to ensure that you proceed patiently and methodically.

With that in mind, we’ve assembled 10 quotes from crime writers who know best how to get away with murder. After all, crime writers have brought us all of our most famous detectives; if anyone knows how to elude justice, it’s them.


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“Still, it doesn't do to murder people, no matter how offensive they may be.”
     –Dorothy L. Sayers, Five Red Herrings


First, if you’re not absolutely sure that you’re in for a murder, you could do a lot worse than to follow Dorothy L. Sayers’ advice. When in doubt, don’t do it. If, however, you’ve exhausted all other avenues, then you may find the remaining quotes useful.




“As a rule, the more bizarre a thing is the less mysterious it proves to be. It is your commonplace, featureless crimes which are really puzzling, just as a commonplace face is the most difficult to identify.”
     –Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes


If even Sherlock Holmes found it difficult to disentangle the most featureless crime, you should endeavor to ensure that there is nothing at all spectacular about your own crimes. Find the most direct method and proceed carefully.


“Nobody owns life, but anyone who can pick up a frying pan owns death.”
     –William S. Burroughs


Burroughs may only be a “crime writer” in that heroin is illegal and he wrote about heroin, but his attitude to death as something that can be “owned” is thrilling. You could own a little death yourself, and bestow it upon anyone you choose! What a world to live in! It’s a fundamentally optimistic viewpoint. Empowering, even.


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“I’ve learned if you’re ever angry enough to hit somebody, don’t do it. Cool down and get yourself a pistol.”
     –Elmore Leonard, Maximum Bob


In murder as in all things, it's better to act calmly and rationally, never lash out and murder someone in the heat of the moment. It only gets messy and a mess is just a bundle of clues waiting to be catalogued.




“Honestly, I don't understand why people get so worked up about a little murder!”
      –Patricia Highsmith, Ripley Under Ground


Following up on the last point, after you’ve made sure to execute your murder with as little fuss as possible, try to be cool, calm, and collected about the fact that you have committed a murder. Nothing sticks out more than stress in an interrogation.


“There is no murder. We make murder, and it matters only to us.”
      –Thomas Harris, Red Dragon


After you’ve committed your murder, you may feel a little shaken. Relax, this is perfectly natural. If it helps, you can comfort yourself with the notion that murder is a social construction; it’s not real at all. You have nothing to be guilty about.


“Murder is like potato chips: you can't stop with just one.”
      –Stephen King, Under the Dome


Hot on the heels of the above rationalisation of murder… you may as well go for a couple more quick killings. You’re committed now, it’d almost be a waste not to continue.


“Dead men are heavier than broken hearts.”
Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep


This is just good, sound, practical advice. If you do end up murdering a person, you’re probably going to end up having to move a body. You’ll have to make sure you’re in good shape for your post-murder cleanup.


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“There’s enough on this fellow for a whole regiment. Do you suppose it all means something?”
“That we're being left clues?”
“Perhaps.”
“Then, no offense, but I fear they've badly overestimated us.”
      –Colin Cotterill, The Coroner’s Lunch


Not every detective is as astute, observant, and well-read as Sherlock Holmes. Indeed, if real life has taught us anything it’s that many murders go unsolved. Cross your fingers, you might just be lucky enough to have an incapable detective assigned to your murder.


Time is the best killer.
     –Agatha Christie


Agatha Christie certainly was a wily old fox. What better way to eliminate your competition than by simply living them to death? You’re guaranteed to have the last laugh, and (almost inconceivably) it’s totally legal.

Posts on this profile were created by members of the Bookwitty team. Here, we discuss books, authors, publishers and other literary-related topics. You’ll find our writers based between our ... Show More

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