If your story lines tend towards a high body count, here’s a book you’ll really enjoy! It’s called “Stiff: The Curious Life of Human Cadavers” by Mary Roach and is a wonderful resource for anyone who dallies with death in fiction!
It covers (among other things…) what plastic surgeons practice on, the life cycle of a dead body (maggots included), human decay in all its gory (not a typo) and the story bodies tell.
For instance, did you know:
ONE: When a head is cut off so plastic surgeons can practice their crafts on it, the decapitation takes place directly below the chin. Why? So someone else can make use of the neck.
TWO: Nineteenth-century operating theatres had more to do with instruction than saving lives and were done without any anaethesia. The first time ether was used was 1846.
THREE: Some medical training schools use anesthetized dogs to practice tracheal intubations and catheterisations.
FOUR: There is a facility situated on a Knoxville hillside that is dedicated to the study of human decay. If you get to visit it, you’ll find bodies stretched out on the lawn in various state of dress, covered in everything from plastic to concrete, left in the shade, left in the sun… all to determine how different conditions impact decay.
FIVE: The bit of us that maggots love most is fat.
SIX: As a body decays, it dissolves into the ground. By analyzing chemicals in soil investigators will be able to tell if the body has been moved or if it decayed there.
SEVEN: Dogs trained to locate human remains can pinpoint body parts at the bottom of a lake from the fats and gasses that float up as the flesh rots.
So if people die in your books and you’re interested in what happens to them in the minutes, hours, months and years after their last breath, then get this book and have a read.
It’s excellently written, hugely entertaining (despite the subject matter) and full of some very awesome content.
Enjoy! And watch out for buses…