Dial Backlash/Disconnect For Murder

Reading & Writing


As an avowed ‘dark’ novelist I love hearing about new ways to kill people, but this one’s so shockingly obvious I’m amazed it took someone so long to figure it out. With a custom-built transmitter installed into your mobile phone, you can signal an I.C.D.(implantable cardioverter-defibrillator) from 30 feet away and zap 830 volts into someone’s pacemaker, thus messing up its rhythms. Or you could wirelessly direct an implantable insulin pump to deliver a lethal dose.

Smartphones can relay patients’ data to hospital computers so that doctors can alter treatment regimes remotely. But if somebody had a mind to it, they could send the wrong electronic message. You could change the dosage of medications, mess up eyesight, take over artificial limbs or raise the volume of hearing aids.

But that’s just the start; now that there are apps to program most of the electronics in your home, it looks like those old 1970s SF movies are about to come true. As computers are used to set the tyre pressure in your car, the possibilities are limitless. And even if safeguards are built in, we know how well those work, don’t we?

According to an article in Vanity Fair, you wouldn’t even have to know anything about medical software to kill someone – you just keep calling their system until it depletes their batteries.

Having said all this, I still like cheap and simple methods of death. A plastic bag was used on a drunk in ‘The Water Room’, and the favoured prison method of death is a broom handle through the eye. Meanwhile I’ve come up with something rather unusual for a new Bryant & May story entitled ‘Bryant & May In The Field’ which you may not spot, even though I’ve flagged it up with play-fair clues!

A tip of the hat to Mike Cane for alerting me to the pacemaker problem.

6 comments on “Dial Backlash/Disconnect For Murder”

  1. John Howard says:

    OOH. Stop being a tease 🙂

  2. Dan Terrell says:

    Okay, I will ask and where is the “Bryant & May In The Field” to be found?
    And you aren’t alone in discovering interesting murder methods. Thanks to both of you for sharing. It just makes me wonder why anyone would want to put his/her whole life in a tiny easily lost – plastic box. “He’s got the whole world in his hands…” well, hopefully not.

  3. snowy says:

    That method rings a bell for some reason, now where was it? [I’ll have to look it up, or it will bother me for days. Ah got it, not exactly the same, but close.]

    It’s in the opening chapter of ‘Rain Fall’ the first ‘John Rain’ novel by Barry Eisler. That was later adapted for the film of the same name with Gary Oldman.

    Film available on commercial streaming sites [though those that are subtitle-phobic should probably give it a miss.]
    First chapter free on the author’s website.

  4. Lee Van says:

    An episode of Homeland used the remote pacemaker death (season 2?) scenario recently.

    I like the idea of remote death by hearing aid. Almost subliminal X-factor contestants multi-scale warblings delicately piped across the ether is worthy of the fiendish Edward Lionheart.. Sure to push any critic to one last meal at Coq d’Argent.

  5. Alan Morgan says:

    What with this and all the drones that are said to be being deployed domestically in the US it will only leave Arthur to take on the full fury of Skynet.

  6. Jon R says:

    The risks of insecure medical devices such as pacemakers and insulin pumps has been known for years – decades even, at least in concept. People still keep right on making the same mistakes, though…

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