Visitors to sunny Saint Marie: beware.
New RadioTimes.com statistical analysis has exposed Death in Paradise’s idyllic island as the most murderous country in the world, and British tourists and expats are in grave danger.
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We combed back through the 56 episodes of the seven series and dug up 62 murders, four suicides, an accidental death and an unfortunate poisoned cat called Opal. With a handful of double homicides on our hands, that leaves 52 murderers crammed into the cells of this tiny Caribbean island, to say nothing of their accomplices and various crooks whose crimes were uncovered by the crack team at Honoré Police Station. Here are our findings:
Just how dangerous is Saint Marie?
Assuming each series represents a whole year (otherwise the murder rate would be EVEN MORE shocking), and working on the basis that Saint Marie has just 10,000 inhabitants (as estimated in a Radio Times interview by Ben Miller, whose DI Richard Poole met his own dramatic end at the sharp point of an ice pick), Saint Marie’s murder rate would make any prospective holidaymakers think twice about booking a stay.
Over the last seven years (or seven series), we have seen an average of 8.3 fresh murders each year on Saint Marie. The UN measures the “intentional homicide rate” for each country in the world out of 100,000, bringing Saint Marie’s official murder rate to 83.
To put that in perspective, according to recent figures no other country in the world has a homicide rate higher than 60.
How do Death in Paradise’s victims die?
Seventeen people have been fatally shot since episode one. Another 12 murderers opted for stabbing, making use of everything from diving knives to machetes.
Murderers who preferred a less bloody approach went for poison, which sent nine people to an early grave (as well as one cat, who ate poisoned fish for her dinner). Death in Paradise’s killers have used everything from rare frog poison to cyanide to hemlock to pufferfish venom and sleeping pills.
One favourite technique is to smear poison on the seal of an envelope (about to be licked) or the back of a stamp (also about to be licked) or the top corner of a page in a notebook (about to be turned with a licked finger). In short, anyone with any enemies in Saint Marie should be very careful about licking anything, particularly stationery.
Honoré’s detectives have also seen two drownings, one electrocution in a swimming pool, three incidents of bludgeoning, four strangulations, four asphyxiations (including three murders by smothering) and one death from smoke inhalation. Dramatically, five victims were thrown to their deaths, including one who was chucked off a cliff and two who were pushed off balconies.
But the murderers of Saint Marie also like to show off their innovative side, particularly one fellow who killed his allergy-suffering victim by inducing anaphylactic shock with an insect bite – and removing the adrenaline from his epipen.
The team has solved four cold cases so far in Death in Paradise, and these have proved pretty tricky, meaning that in three murders the exact cause of death is unknown. And while many of the murders were staged to look like suicides (a common plot line), the police team also dealt with four actual suicides.
How many murder victims are tourists?
Saint Marie may have a thriving tourism industry and a huge community of expats, but the island’s foreigners do seem to get killed off at an alarming rate.
Tourists, visitors and British expats have racked up a death toll of 30 out of the 62. Victims who have had to be sent back home in a coffin have so far included a bride on her hen party, a CEO on a team building trip, a marine treasure hunter, a bird egg poacher, an air hostess, and a retired pensioner. Why has nobody issued a travel warning? Somebody alert the Foreign Office!
Over the course of seven series we have also seen 30 locals sent to an early grave. Many of those were West Indians living and working on the island, while others were white people of British descent whose families had settled in Saint Marie.
The other two victims? They were Brits, but they weren’t killed on the island – even if it was Saint Marie’s cops who solved the murders. Jack Mooney (Ardal O’Hanlon) and Humphrey Goodman (Kris Marshall) jointly worked out who shot Frank Henderson in London in series six, and Mooney also uncovered the truth about the murder of Karen Teague in England.
How do the victims know their murderers?
Watch out for furious co-workers harbouring murderous grudges, because in Saint Marie you are most likely to be killed by a colleague. So far, 18 murders have been committed by a colleague of the victim: a bitter employee or a band mate, a co-star or a rival academic.
But even after you have clocked off and headed home, you’re not necessarily safe because a total of 15 victims were murdered by family members. Of those, wives are most likely to murder their husbands – something we’ve seen five times. Of course, husbands also murder wives (three) and sons murder fathers (four).
A further six victims have been despatched by former partners or lovers, and six by a close friend (or should we say, “friend”).
But even if you shut yourself up away from friends, husbands, wives, sons, lovers, exes and co-workers, you’re still not quite safe. Ten murders were committed by acquaintances – and seven by total strangers.
Are men more murderous than women?
While Saint Marie has seen a fair few female murderers (18), most of the 52 killers pacing the cells of the island’s jail are male (34). Also packing out the prison are a crowd of accomplices, co-conspirators, blackmailers, fraudsters, and attempted murderers who don’t figure in our calculations.
Down at the graveyard, you’ll also find more male homicide victims: 36, compared to 26 women.
But who murders who? Male-on-male murder is most frequent at 25 cases (40.3%). Male-on-female murder is next at 25.8%. Female-on-female murders are least frequent (16.1%) and only slightly behind female-on-male murder (17.7%).
How often do storylines repeat themselves?
The next time DI Jack Mooney takes on a fresh murder case, he would do well to consult the archives at Honoré police station. The longer the series goes on, the more certain patterns emerge, and some of them are very specific…
- Number of times a dying woman committed suicide and staged it to look like murder, specifically to frame a man who had previously got away with the actual murder of her lover or daughter: 2
- Number of times a jealous woman thought a man was having an affair with a younger woman, but it was actually his secret long-lost daughter who had just revealed her true identity: 2
- Number of cases solved by an anagram of the victim’s name: 2
- Number of times the victim tried to fake his own death, but actually got murdered instead: 2
Can you use statistics to predict the murderer?
Honestly, probably not. But the stats do tell a story, and perhaps this team of detectives should regard expats, visitors to the island and co-workers of the victim with an extra degree of suspicion – especially if they own a gun, or are male.
But what do the stars of Death in Paradise make of all this? We told Ardal O’Hanlon and Don Warrington (the Commissioner) about our statistical findings and, aside from wondering why we had taken the murder rate on a fictional TV island quite so seriously (a good question), they were keen to put our analysis into action when the scripts arrive for season eight.
“I’m going to test out your research,” O’Hanlon promised. “I’m not even going to read the scripts. I’m going to try and guess who did it.”