Shot Through The Heart

At a recent Sisters in Crime meeting, our speaker (a gun expert) pointed out that if a person is shot in the heart, there is enough blood already in the body to keep them alive for about thirteen additional seconds. (I repeated this very interesting fact at a dinner party and learned that not everybody talks about stuff like this! But I digress.) Thirteen seconds. To demonstrate just how long that really is, he started the timer on his watch and we sat there while the seconds counted off.

And then he pointed out that in this scenario, the person you shot center mass might very well already have a weapon aimed at you. That their brain—still operating for thirteen seconds after having been shot in the heart—might tell them to use.

I write amateur sleuth mysteries, and I’ve never been held at gunpoint. (I hope both of these facts continue to be true indefinitely!) But when it’s time for the final showdown in a story, when the bad guy and the good guy face off, I imagine this scenario. The good guy can shoot the bad guy and still not get away. The bad guy can be shot and still do damage. The sense of morality that you and I share, the “good” that allows us to connect with the good guys in mysteries, might not be enough if the bad guy is bad enough.


Diane Vallere | @dianevallere

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Author: Diane Vallere

Diane is the author of four mystery series. Like her character Samantha Kidd, she is a former fashion buyer; like her character Madison Night, she loves Doris Day movies, like her character Polyester Monroe, she lives in California; and like her character Margo Tamblyn, she has a thing for costumes. Find out more at http://dianevallere.com/.

9 thoughts on “Shot Through The Heart”

  1. Excellent point, Diane. Something I learned from my Citizen’s Police Academy, WPA, and Lee Lofland. Just ’cause the bad guy is shot, doesn’t mean he’s down for the count.

  2. 13 seconds, wow! I am curious to see how you will use this interesting tidbit of information (besides at a dinner party)! Will it appear in a forthcoming story?

  3. Very interesting. I think I mentioned earlier Isabelle Allende took a class that talked about various ways to murder people. She kept talking about them during the interview I watched. My favorite was freezing poison and shooting people with these “bullets.” You’d have to have the right mold.

  4. The things we learn as part of this work…amazing! Thanks, Diane! (I was pretty surprised to learn at Bouchercon Forensics Day–also courtesy of Sisters in Crime–that some police depts are already using 3D reconstruction technology to solve crimes!)

  5. Isn’t it interesting what we learn? I’m pretty sure if my high school teachers had mentioned forensics in relation to science, I would have paid more attention.

  6. My phone wouldn’t let me post yesterday – so I’m a day late. Thirteen seconds, wow. I gotta tell ya, this chilled my blood, and set the creative juices roaring!

  7. Okay, first–I couldn’t read the title of this post without singing it like the Bon Jovi song. Yes, that was random. Also–thirteen seconds?!? Wow. That’s an eternity! (Wait, everyone doesn’t talk about that stuff over dinner? Really?) Great stuff, Diane. Thanks for sharing!

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