Hello, and welcome to my 2019 A to Z Challenge! This year, I am giving you my personal list of Golden Age Mystery Tropes. Particularly clue-tropes, and also those tropes that an experienced mystery reader finds herself using to solve the mystery without reference to the actual clues. A short one, for today…
The Heavily-Spiced Dish
“I hope you like curry. The Colonel is rather particular about his meals. He likes his curry very heavily spiced indeed.”
If a heavily-spiced dish is alluded to at the beginning of a story, watch out for poison! The taste of the heavily-spiced dish in question will, the author rather thinks, cover the taste of the poison. However, the reader who knows will look elsewhere for the actual poisoned dish (or drink). The curry or whatever is usually a sort of bluff. That is, everyone will assume the poison is in the heavily-spiced dish, and this will mislead the investigators for a bit, but it will eventually turn out to have been in something else.
Coffee is a good variant here. Strong coffee allegedly covers the taste of just about anything. Of course, sometimes the investigator thinks the poison is in the heavily-spiced dish, when it is really in the coffee. I imagine sometimes this gets switched around, and the investigator assumes the poison was in the coffee, when really, it was in the heavily-spiced dish.
Anyway, my main point here is this: mention of “the heavily-spiced dish we’ll be eating for dinner tonight” means that the reader should look out for death by poison.
Have you encountered this trope in something you’ve read? Have you seen variants of this trope? Do you think that this isn’t a trope? Do you just want to say hello? Comment, please! I love hearing from people, and I will do my best to reply.