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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Thornton P. Knowles On "Sudden Death"

Murder detectives, forensic pathologists, and crime novelists use the term "sudden death" to describe the fate of a victim who, for example, is walking down the street whistling a tune when shot, point blank, in the back of the head. A case of sudden death. Alive then suddenly not. But wait, we are all alive until we are dead, with no time in between. Therefore, isn't all death sudden? Perhaps the term should be "unexpected death." No, that won't work because we can all expect to die. Maybe "violent, untimely death" is the term we're looking for. As I think about this, I wonder if there is a term for people pre-occupied with criminal mayhem. Maybe my mother was right, maybe spending my youth reading all of those true detective magazines warped my mind.

Thornton P. Knowles

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