December 1st, 2006

Kev Noir

Effects of heroin cut with arsenic

My novel (set in New York during World War Two) features, among other colourful characters, a small-time thug is hired to kill the son of a crime kingpin, which he does. He himself is wounded in the bloody shoot-out, shot in both kneecaps and one arm, and while in hospital/protective custody he is himself dispatched by a hired professional, the method of disposal: heroin cut with a lethal dose of arsenic.

Would this mixture be possible to administer via the usual means? (From what I can gather, melting the powder in a metal spoon, sucking it up a syringe and shooting it up). Also, would death be instantaneous, or slow and painful? And would the victim go into convulsions? Or would it be more plausible for him to be jacked up with a lethal overdose of straight H?

To up the ante a little in the irony stakes, this small-time thug is a heroin addict.

How would a prisoner (arrested, charged with murder in the first but not yet convicted) who was a heroin addict have been treated in hospital in '40s New York, at least in as far as his addiction went? Would he have received morphine (especially as he'd also been shot through the kneecaps and arm and thus in considerable pain, at least initially)? Also, how long would such wounds take to heal? Would a prisoner still be in hospital after a month? Indeed, would he have been in a normal hospital under police guard?

Thanking you all in advance.
Saiyaloid Raditz
  • kahteh

Gunshot wounds from a musket

Here's the situation: I have two groups of characters in a siege, trading shots with each other. One group is on top of a town wall (probably about 20 feet high), and the other group is about 30 feet away, at the bottom of the wall.

Two characters get shot (hopefully non-fatally) during the course of the scene. I have some details of what happens to them, but I'm in need of the expert knowledge of the people here.

Person 1 is on the walls, and gets shot in the ear. What I know (I think!) is that this will bleed a lot and look worse than it is, and will make him deaf in that ear.

- How much of his ear is likely to be left? And will the deafness be permanent, or will it get better over time?
- Will he be able to carry on fighting (or at least taking occasional pot-shots) if he gets bandaged up?
- Are there any other details I need to think about? (E.g. long-term problems?)

Person 2 is down at the bottom of the wall, and gets shot in the left upper arm. (He is right-handed, FWIW.) I've not really managed to find much information for this guy, partly because most of what I've found was on medical journal websites that required a subscription, and partly because the things I did find were complicated and medical. (This, however, has been moderately useful.)

-Since they're in pretty short range of each other, how badly damaged will his arm be?
- Assuming he gets medical attention pretty quickly (which he almost certainly will do- he's a pretty important person and they're not going to let him bleed to death), how well will his arm recover?
(I'm assuming that the arm will probably have to be amputated, but I wanted to make sure before doing anything drastic to the poor guy!)

ETA: Thanks folks, you're a great help as always! :-D