Remy closed her eyes to recall the scene of the crime. “The cave’s entryway is narrow with little light seeping inside. Pitch black everywhere. A few steps in, there’s a partial tree with jutting branches tangled in a heap of seaweed. It probably prevented the body from sweeping out of the cave each time the tide rolled in and out. There's debris all along the floor. My sight line was limited, but I didn’t see any tools, weapons, or even a life jacket.” She glanced at the Inspector in despair and whispered, “Something had been eating her eyes.”
-- Excerpt from The Tide Turns
Eww! Disgusting imagery, I know, but it creates an emotional lasso that cinches you to our murder victim. You can’t help but feel inconsolable grief for a person who has been nibbled upon by sea beasties.
Having a character killed while out at sea required me to immerse myself in research on water forensics. It was an unnerving and repulsive read, to say the least. I am not a CSI fan—which is why I pen cozies rather than police procedurals—but the need to be accurate when describing my poor victim pushed me forward. I learned the biology of drowning: decomposition in fresh water v. seawater, variations in flesh rot caused by water depth, the effects of cold ocean vs. tropical seas upon a body, and the nasty business of putrefaction and scavenging creatures.
I read enough on these topics to write the above passage and later observations made by a coroner before learning this unbendable lesson: Never be buried at sea.
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