Note: Kim Cooper of 1947project and Esotouric joins us for today's Zombie Summer Reading Program guest post, and her offering should be just the thing to help you unleash your inner coroner. As every discerning zombie knows, a brain laced with hydrochloric acid just doesn't have that nice, brainy zip.
Post-Mortem Appearances by Joan M. Ross (Oxford Medical Publications, 4th edition, 1939)
There are some things you need to know, although you might not realize it. But it becomes obvious, when you open this peculiar little purple book and begin to read the strangely poetic descriptions of the physical signs of disease, infection and poisonings, that Miss Ross was a chronicler of a most compelling set of human mysteries.
From Post-Mortem Appearances, I have learned that a person who has frozen to death will upon first examination exhibit remarkably red flesh, similar to carbon monoxide poisoning, a result of hemoglobin's retaining its oxygen at low temperatures, and the blood remaining arterial. As the body warms, more typical darkening of the skin is seen.
Any metal objects on the body of an electrocuted person may become magnetized. A starved person's viscera is nearly transparent.
A drowned person's lungs behave abnormally during autopsy, bulging out from the thorax is a manner called "ballooning." When a woman is burned to death, the last organ to char is her uterus.
If you wish to hang yourself but leave a good-looking corpse, use a soft handkerchief as the noose rather than stiff cord. The former leaves a soft, white mark, the latter a dark impression stiff as parchment.
Mustard gas, as used in warfare, results in injury to the stomach when the victim swallows caustic snot and saliva. Chronic lead poisoning makes the arm and shoulder muscles whither.
Before it kills you, hydrochloric acid can produce a markedly fatty liver.
Drink Lysol or other phenols and when they open your bladder, it will be full of smoky green urine with the characteristic disinfectant smell. Also, cyanide does taste like bitter almonds, and smells like them, too, when its victims are autopsied.
Would-be saints are advised to take sulfuric acid or antimony internally to delay post-mortem putrefaction. Or just don't die.