How to Know You’re about to Die in a British Mystery

If the guy on the right thinks he’s in love with you, run!

Anyone who likes mysteries understands the joy that only comes from seeing one British person murdering another British person. In America, you’re going to die if you’re in the same room as the guy with the gun, so if you can just avoid him (i.e. all of them), then you’re theoretically good. But in Britain, where this convenient tool for murder is nonexistent (because they are all in America), they have to be a bit more imaginative.

And let’s just say you end up in Britain, and worse still, a British mystery, how do you know how to avoid being murdered? The sad fact is, when you realize you are going to die in a British mystery, it’s too late. You’re dead. And you will be found the following day by Inspector Morse, Lewis, Poirot, Foyle, Barnaby, or a Polish maid. So, just in case you end up in a British mystery, here’s how to know if you’re about to die.

You are the primary suspect for the first murder

If you are an unlikable person with a motive in a British mystery, sorry but forget it. You’re so dead that any mystery watchers knew you were dead when you became the primary suspect. If it makes you feel any better, everyone will feel bad that they suspected you of being the murderer. For a while.

You’re alone and have a conversation with a person we can’t see

If you say something like: “Hey, it’s you! Oh I was worried!” You have about 9 seconds to live. There’s a great chance that the next (and last) phrase out of your mouth will be something panicked like: “Hey, what are you doing?” Then you’re dead. You should have just sprinted away through those woods.

You know who the murderer is and you’re about to tell the police

If you are in a British mystery novel, film, or show, and you suddenly realize who the murderer is, drop what you are doing and go straight to the police station. If you can’t do that – and you can’t, trust me – do not call the inspector and leave a message that you know who the killer is or tell them that you want to meet in person. You shout it from the rooftops. You arrange a party for everyone you know and you tell them and you tell everyone you see on the way to the party. Nor should you try to bribe the murderer and contact him/her and meet in private. Because wherever you meet them will be where you (or pieces of you) will be found by a fisherman the next day. But frankly, you are meant to drive the plot, so you’re already dead.

You’re at the top of a stairwell or anywhere that isn’t the ground

Should you find yourself at the top of a stairwell or in a high building in Britain with one other person, there is an 98.3% chance that you are about to die. The other 1.7% are rescued in a heart thumping scene, but you’re usually dead. This is why so many British people hate going upstairs for anything. Ditto if you’re on a balcony, but more people will see it.

You get invited, well, anywhere

You’ve been invited by that great looking man or woman for a date to a local pub. Nice! Well, enjoy those pints, because you are going to be killed on the way home. And, if my experience is accurate, you will die badly. You will be found the next day with a mirror shattered over your head or stuffed in a septic tank. Your death is going to serve the plot by making whoever invited you out look really, really guilty. The good news is, they probably didn’t kill you because it’s too obvious. Well, good news for them, I guess. That is, unless they are invited somewhere later!

You have done something – anything – bad ever in the past

If you ever left your family to die in a fiery car wreck while you escaped, forced your sister to get an abortion after you impregnated her, or traded secrets to the Germans in WWII for a false PhD, then when someone around you dies mysteriously then I suggest getting your affairs in order because you are as good as dead. Your death will come after years of blackmail, will be accompanied by your public humiliation, and will in no way advance the plot. You’ll basically die just to show the world that you are a bag of shit and that bags of shit always get theirs in the end. On the bright side, you’re a human cautionary tale (or you were, anyway) and it’s always good to teach others.   

You are a hobbyist

Birdwatchers, model makers, cricket enthusiasts – you’re all dead. You will not only be killed, you will be killed in an ironic way linked to your hobby. This is so we get a chance to see the ingenuity and cruelty of the murderer. So model makers will be suffocated with model glue. Birdwatchers will be suffocated by a bird-caller shoved into their windpipe. Cricket watchers will be forced to watch a full match and will suffocate themselves.

Inspector Morse thinks he might be in love with you

Being an attractive woman near a murder that Inspector Morse is investigating is a tough row to hoe. First, he’s going to think he’s in love with you. Don’t get cocky; he’s in love with everyone. Second, you are going to be the next person to die. This isn’t your fault. All you did was 1. be hot and 2. be near Morse while he was investigating a murder. But your death is meant to solidify Morse’s lifelong curse of being a single, lonely drunk who is good at puzzles, drinking heavily, and finding out who killed someone. Including you. There’s more bad news. If you’re not dead at the end of the episode it’s only cause you’re the murderer. So, yeah…  

You end up in a quaint county of Midsomer

Midsomer County in England is known for its quaint and rural villages, it’s picturesque and charming settings, cottages, ponds, a throwback to the England of yore. There is no doubt you will fall in love with it, until, that is, you are bludgeoned to death by a wheel of cheese. In the last 22 years, there have been more about 400 murders and about 600 deaths in total, there have also been 164 attempted murders or suicides. So anyone who goes there dies. And in Midsomer, you go out memorably, which is bad news for you, but great news for us watching at home munching popcorn. So while you’re being crushed by a pile of paper, stuffed into a (nonindustrial) washing machine, or drowned in a bowl of jellied eels, we’ll be wondering how poor Inspector Barnaby gets out of bed each day.

So there you have it. A list of ways you know you’re about to die should you ever end up in a British mystery novel, movie, or show. Oh, and this list is far from exhaustive, so I really just suggest staying out of British mysteries and maybe Britain altogether.    

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