Lesson 7: How to get away with murder

The Royal College of Cookmanship’s position on murder is incredibly clear: it is valid and forgivable in certain situations that will be made apparent only after the crime has been committed, and only if the paperwork for a murder permit was submitted six months in advance of the act. No Cookman should ever kill in anger, but revenge, spite, and boredom are all acceptable reasons for taking a life, especially of a rude guest.

Alibi

The Cookman has the perfect alibi. When asked by the police officer on duty where you were when the murder took place.

“Me? Why I was in the kitchen, of course. The dinner party required a plethora of dishes. If you like, I could describe them all in further detail…”

Being entirely responsible for all the cooking – and make sure that there was enough food to feed an entire army – gives you an easy out. They don’t need to know that you cooked everything a month in advance, hiding it in the freezer behind the half-empty bag of spinach on the second shelf, your only job on the day of the murder being a thorough reheating. A lock on the kitchen door can be useful in keeping the prying eyes of witnesses out of the way.

This of course only works if the murder was not committed through the use of poison hidden in the food. That particular blunder shouldn’t warrant a warning, but Massey Jr. proved that idiocy knows no bounds. She was sent to the Tower of London for mass poisoning of her own charity providing meals to impoverished MPs. Ever since then, to protect against lawsuits, we at the College of Cookmanship are obliged to remind aspiring Cookmen not to use poison if they are also claiming responsibility for the cooking.

If you are forced to use poison as your method, you must be the back-seat Cookman and let someone else cook on your behalf. Casually supervise, only occasionally even entering the kitchen, if at all. Have witnesses report that you were conversing with them the whole time, as far as they remember. Be as suspicious only as the other clueless guests.

Method

As discussed, poison is not the greatest tool for a Cookman, though it must be sometimes employed, especially when one’s day job is international secret agent or if you have to improvise. These things happen. If one has the choice though, it needs to be a weapon-based method, such as the lead piping, fallen chandelier, or a collapsing stuffed polar bear. The weapon should be completely unrelated to the kitchen – no bread knives, blows to the head from the pressure cooker, or food processors gone wild. Keep it to the billiards room and above. Slip out of the back exit of the kitchen (see Chapter 172 on setting up your kitchen) and make the necessary arrangements from a hidden vantage point. No one will know you ever left your Cookman’s domain. If you come back to hear loud cries and knocks on the door, open the oven door before facing them, claiming to have been in the middle of a delicate operation.

Follow up

Assuming you avoided the Massey Jr. blunder and were not immediately imprisoned in the Tower of London and sentenced to execution (which is admittedly hard in the 21st century, but it still happens behind closed doors), you may have some work to do in the days that follow to keep the police off your back. As a member of the dinner party you will fall under as much suspicion as the other guests. You will have to practice your plausible denials of guilt to be able to match or better any of your guilt rivals. If you killed for revenge, make sure that you kept that motive hidden before the deed, and more importantly, continue to suppress it afterwards. As a true gentle Cookman, you should be able to ensure that the feud between your now deceased rival was kept to private quarters, hidden from everyone’s knowledge as it wouldn’t be becoming to address the issue in public. The byzantine layers of etiquette are key to this; recommended reading is The Art of Etiquette – or how to fuck people over without them knowing it, by C. Mathers.

If the motive is discovered, then cultivate a weak persona that could never facilitate murdering someone by throwing an anvil up a staircase. Perhaps even contract a disease to heighten the reality of this, such as Polio. If the reason for murder was boredom, this is easier to hide, but publicly engage in a number of hobbies so that no one might think you ever were bored in your life.

This is not an exhaustive list of how to get away murder through the delicate employment of Cookmanship, as officially we are not allowed to go into any more detail without being put on trial ourselves. Hopefully you have gained an insight on the variety of tools that are available to the Cookman and you can equip yourselves properly if you have to commit murder (again, we don’t encourage murder, but we’d rather you didn’t get sent away to prison – we’ve found it rather hard to chase up late fees when the student has been hanged).