Where the Research Takes Us: Burning Metal and Killer Freezers

by Kassandra Lamb (on behalf of the whole crew) ~ Every once in a while we like to share some of the odder tidbits we’ve gleaned, from where the research takes us.

where the research takes us: Kassandra Lamb

I’ll start things off this time. Did you know that metal can burn?

I did not know that factoid, until I researched what would happen when a small plane crashes shortly after takeoff. I had questions like what noise would it make, would it explode, etc.

In my attempts to find answers, I stumbled upon a Facebook group called Authors Fire/Rescue. It’s run by a group of firefighters who graciously volunteer their expertise so authors can write fires right.

where the research takes us: extinguishers for burning metal

No, I was told, it wouldn’t explode, but it would catch on fire, would even produce a big fireball, most likely. So take out the big bang and the ground shaking and put in ball of fire. Check.

Then I asked what kind of fire-fighting equipment a small airport would be likely to have. I found out a whole lot more than I bargained for. Including the fact that metal burns, if it gets hot enough.

Yikes! And you can’t use just any old fire extinguisher on it.

Burning metal requires a Class D extinguisher, which will have an identifying yellow star on it with a D inside. (note the little yellow star in the bottom-middle of the label).

This was too good a tidbit not to share. Class D extinguisher woven into the fire scene in my newest release, One Flew Over the Chow-Chow Nest. Check!

The fact that the metal of the plane is burning gives the reader a pretty good idea of why the pilot wouldn’t have survived, without having to get too graphic.

(See below for deets about the book.)

where the research takes us: Candace Carter

Next on the path of where the research takes us, Candace J. Carter’s after some cattle rustlers.

When I created the protagonist for my debut novel, Muddy Waters, as a range detective, I had to researched modern-day cattle rustling.

Historically, I knew that cattlemen’s associations, and subsequently special law enforcement officers, originated around 1870 to 1880. I lived in rural Colorado for a while around 2001. At social functions, I learned from local ranch families that stock theft was still an ongoing problem.

There was a lot of open range in the area. It would be easy enough to pull off the road and grab a few head, I thought.

Or maybe not so easy.

These weren’t the eastern cattle my grandparents and their neighbors raised. The open range cattle aren’t nearly as docile (I’ve been chased by a few protective cows), so not an easy job to round them up, especially in a hurry or after dark.

The rest of my research was online. Cattle rustling still is a problem across the US. Before 2010 or so, the recession was generally what drove thieves. Closer to 2015, money for drug habits took over as the biggest incentive to steal. Many thefts were done by insiders, though rustling organizations were involved in some schemes.

Where the research takes us: cattle rustling
One of my resources.

The strangest story occurred in North Carolina. A rancher reported 189 head of Black Angus cattle and calves, valued at $371,700, had been stolen and replaced with 30 to 40 head of lesser quality cattle.

The thief was caught a month later. He was a contract farmhand at the ranch but had a “legitimate business” on the side selling livestock.

I also learned about livestock theft prevention, which will be used in the second book in the series.

Where our research takes us: for our newest author, Liz Boeger, it’s killer freezers.

When I wrote my first mystery, I envisioned a murder happening in a walk-in industrial freezer. I had some familiarity with them from my work as a school administrator. Larger, newer school—larger kitchen freezer. Older school—old, tiny freezer. But both walk-ins.

But how long would it take some one to die in one of them? When I started the research, I thought the victim would freeze to death, but I discovered that suffocation or carbon monoxide poisoning could happen earlier, depending on the size of the freezer.

Chilling, in more ways than one.

I went on to write a scene with the main character getting locked inside, but the scene was later cut (sadly, we sometimes spend time doing research that we don’t end up using). The idea does come into play at another point in the story, however. I won’t say where or how…

where the research takes us: Kirsten Weiss

And last but not least, Kirsten Weiss researched garden gnomes!

For my upcoming Wits’ End cozy mystery, Gnome Alone, I had to do some research on the history of garden gnomes. Okay, I probably didn’t have to, but I wanted to, and I did end up using it in the manuscript.

Where the research takes us: the history of garden gnomes
(photo by Sara Mae on Unsplash.com)

The history of the garden gnome reaches all the way back to ancient Rome. The word gnome likely derives from the Greek genomos, which means dweller in the earth. They were considered protectors of the garden.

The 16th century alchemist, Paracelcus, considered gnomes earth elementals, with magical powers.

They became common in the gardens of wealthy families in the eighteenth century. But at that time, they were ugly, miniature hunchbacks. The classic, red-hatted garden gnome actually comes from 19th century Germany.

And if you’re curious about the book, coming out in October, imagine a control-freak owner of a B&B who’s juggling Bigfoot sightings, a rash of garden gnome kidnappings, and the murder of a Christmas caroler. It’s a romp!

And that is this quarter’s installment of Where the Research Takes Us!

Here’s my new release ~ Plus scroll down for a New Contest

One Flew Over the Chow-Chow’s Nest, A Marcia Banks and Buddy Mystery #11

The world moves toward normal, but Marcia’s life is rarely “normal”…

Newly vaccinated, Marcia Banks can finally schedule the human phase of training with her Air Force pilot client—the soon-to-be owner of a Chow-Husky service dog named Bear. But when she calls to set things up, she’s informed that the veteran has been in a private psychiatric hospital for months, with no one allowed to visit.

Marcia puts out feelers to find out what is going on, and suddenly he is discharged…only to have his private plane crash two days later. Convinced this is no coincidence, Marcia investigates. What she uncovers looks suspiciously like a scheme to defraud the Veterans’ Administration.

But who’s behind it, and did they sabotage her client’s plane? Or did the saboteur have a more personal motive? And just how determined are they to silence Marcia?

(Note: This story occurs against the backdrop of the pandemic, but it focuses on the optimism and relief of the spring of 2021 in the U.S.)

$2.99 ~ This Week ONLY! ~ (Goes up to $4.99 on Friday, 6/11)


And a New Summer Travels Contest!!!

The contest will run from 5/31/21 to 6/19/21

Prizes are A Clue® Travel Card Game and a misterio Travel Mug, plus 4 signed paperbacks*.

(*If the winner has read any of these already, we can substitute a different book; some restrictions apply)


Four ways to enter (SEVEN possible entries)!!

Click HERE for more details and to Enter!!

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington psychological mysteries, set in her native Maryland, and the Marcia Banks and Buddy cozy mysteries, set in Central Florida. She also writes romantic suspense under the pen name of Jessica Dale.

Misterio press produces an array of quality crime fiction. We post here twice a month, usually on Tuesdays, to alert you to new releases, to entertain, and to inform.

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  • Reply
    June 13, 2021 at 12:56 pm

    I would love to read and review any of these books in print format . Thse books all look like great reads and that book cover of “One Flew Over The Chow-Chow’s Nest it’s just perfect. Actually I like all the book covers and excerpts.
    Hope I Win

    • Reply
      Kassandra Lamb
      June 13, 2021 at 1:27 pm

      Thanks, Crystal. I’m pretty pleased with how the cover turned out. That dog is indeed a big teddy bear. 🙂 Best of luck in the contest!

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