Where would you hide the body? I wondered. Under the patio?
Too obvious. Although disturbing some of the slabs to make it look as if you had would make a good way of delaying the search. Let them spend a few hours digging only to find nothing.
A shallow grave in the woods? Weighed down with rocks in the lake?
They have all been done before.
Have you ever tried to dig a hole in woodland? I haven’t, but as a gardener I know how the roots of trees spread out quite close to the surface. And anyone who has ever actually taken a walk in woodland can see for themselves. Often you will be tripping over roots on the path.
So I reckon that the idea of burying something as large as a body in the woods would be well nigh impossible. The grave would be shallow alright. And you would need some very sharp tools to cut through those roots. So, no, not the shallow grave.
The lake, then? Alright if you are lucky enough to be near one when you commit your murder. And have access to a boat. If you are, and you haven’t been extremely thorough about concealing the fact, then it’s like the patio all over again.
The first place people are going to look.
And, also like the patio, better as a way of sending people wasting time looking in the wrong place. Let it be known, not too obviously, that you travelled to some place near a lake around the time of the person’s disappearance. Ideally make it look as though you were trying to hide the fact. The underwater search teams would be out in force in no time. Meanwhile the body would be slowly decaying, any evidence of its real hiding place being whittled away by the weather.
A building site is often used in thrillers. You want to get rid of the guy who is onto your fraudulent dealings, the shoddy materials you are using, the illegals you are employing on pittance wages?
Easy, bump him off and hide the body in the foundations. It can be a bridge, a motorway, an appartment block. Years later there’s a disaster because a body is not as good as rebar when it comes to holding concrete together. Hopefully by then you are way beyond suspicion, maybe in a grave yourself.
A peat bog is a final resting place favoured by people taking the law into their own hands in places where there is an unofficial civil war not so much raging as simmering. Now and then it might boil over and someone will get the blame for stoking the fire. A few days later he will be missing. “Disappeared” is the euphemism they use. When things cool down and the political stew has gelled into something palatable with just the odd bit of indegestable gristle here and there, someone who has been granted immunity from prosecution says “try looking in Ballyunpronouncable Bog” and out come the JCBs.
Peat preserves bodies, so, when they are discovered, even thousands of years after burial, they are still recognisable. Except in the case of thousand year old ones on account of there not being anyone around who could identify them.
A body under the patio, or in the lake, or the woods, even embedded in concrete, if left long enough, will have become a bag of bones by the time it is found if the murderer has covered his tracks well enough.
That makes identification harder. Although these days forensic science has made great strides so DNA testing and the like means that it probably will be identified eventually. Some clever clogs will even produce a clay model based around the bone structure of the skull so that everyone can see what the dead person looked like before the worms and maggotts, or the fish, sucked the flesh from the bones.
As with the lake, not everyone has access to a bog or a construction site.
Most of us live in ordinary houses in ordinary streets in ordinary suburbs. Not many opportunitues for the successful disposal of a body there.
There’s always the freezer — that’s been used in fiction and in real life. Body parts hidden among the beef and lamb jonts. Human limbs alongside the pig’s trotters. But all the clearing up after you would be difficult. Apparently you can never completely erase blood stains.
And, unless you actually eat the joints of homo-sapiens as well as the leg of lamb, the risk of discovery remains quite high. Maybe you’d have to grind them up into manburgers — or, in my case, ladyburgers.
You could render the fat down and make candles. Perfume them with roses or lavender and sell them on a market stall.
You’d still have the bones to deal with though. Maybe they could be ground up and scattered on the garden as fertiliser.
Hmm. I think I am getting close to a solution now. The missus had better start shaping up. I’m off to the store to buy that chest freezer she’s always wanted.