By Reece Hirsch
How would I definitely not want to die? Mystery and crime fiction is full of hard deaths, but the one that immediately sprang to mind when I read the question is found in the first chapter of Colin Harrison’s excellent The Finder.
Two young Mexican women who work for a cleaning service have parked their Toyota in a parking lot by the beach in Brooklyn to drink jug wine and play the radio. They’ve unwittingly been helping a third woman steal corporate secrets from the trash cans of Manhattan office towers.
A truck pulls up close beside the Toyota on the driver’s side so the door can’t be opened. On the passenger’s side, a man appears and holds that door closed. Another truck, a garbage truck, pulls up behind the Toyota and a chain is attached to the rear bumper. In front, the car’s tires are wedged against a curb.
The Toyota’s sun roof is smashed and a pipe from the garbage truck slides into place as raw sewage pours through the sun roof, filling the car. Being trapped inside a car and drowning in raw sewage? That’s a very bad way to go. Drowning is horrible and being trapped in an enclosed space makes it worse, but I think it’s the extreme ick factor that really caused that scene to stick with me.
No one knows how they’re going to meet their end, but even if I were to die in some Final Destination-style Rube Golberg chain of calamitous events involving a table saw, a live power line, a nail gun, a roller coaster and a rabid fruit bat, I could look back from the afterlife, and say to myself, “Well, it could have been worse. It could have been Chapter 1 of The Finder.”