Keith Staskiewicz
July 22, 2011 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Nothing ratchets up the suspense in a mystery like a good death scene, so writers lavish extra attention on them. We asked some prominent authors to look back at all their books and choose their best murder.

Sue Grafton
”I felt incredibly clever in ”F” Is for Fugitive when a diabetic patient is injected with what appears to be insulin with Kinsey sitting right next to her hospital bed. Since Kinsey’s needle-phobic, she’s distracted by the possibility that she’ll pass out. While she’s got her head down between her knees, trying not to hyperventilate, darkness crowding her peripheral vision, the patient goes into anaphylactic shock and dies. It looks like insulin shock, but in fact it’s a severe allergic reaction to something added to the vial. Kinsey witnesses the murder without understanding what she’s looking at. It’s a perfect instance of an old saying: not ‘I’ll believe it when I see it,’ but the opposite. ‘I’ll see it when I believe it.”’

J.D. Robb
”There’s little point in killing people on paper if you don’t enjoy it. In Fantasy in Death, the unfortunate Bart Minnock is beheaded by the holographic Lord Manx during gameplay. If a guy’s going to lose his head, it might as well be fun.”

John Sandford
”My favorite murder was in the novel Certain Prey, when a female assassin and a psychotic female lawyer gang up on, and finally shoot to death, a dope dealer who was trying to blackmail the lawyer. The overall scene is about as ugly as any I’ve written, involving chains, gags, electric drills, and kneecaps, and yet the two women carry on with good cheer and actually bond. After cleaning up the murder scene, they decide it would be fun to go out on the town that night and go dancing. I kind of liked both of them: They’re ferocious, no doubt, but at the same time, they’re well-spoken, well-dressed, and, in their own crazy way, thoughtful. And they’re kinda like…chicks, if you know what I mean.”

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