Monday, September 14, 2015

A is for Arsenic - Review

A Is For Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie by Kathryn Harkup

Rating: 5 Stars
Source: NetGalley
Description:  People are fascinated by murder.  The popularity of murder mystery books, TV series, and even board games shows that there is an appetite for death, and the more unusual or macabre the method, the better.  With gunshots or stabbings the cause of death is obvious, but poisons are so inherently more mysterious.  How are some compounds so deadly in such tiny amounts?
Agatha Christie used poison to kill her characters more than any other crime fiction writer.  The poison was a central part of the novel, and her choice of deadly substances was far from random; the chemical and physiological characteristics of each poison provide vital clues to the discovery of the murderer.  Christie demonstrated her knowledge (much of it gleaned by working in a pharmacy during both world wars) in many of her novels, but this is rarely appreciated by the reader.
Written by former research chemist Kathryn Harkkup, each chapter takes a different novel and investigates the poison used b the murder.  Fact and fun-packed, A is for Arsenic looks at why certain chemicals kill, how they interact with the body, and the feasibility of obtaining, administering and detecting these poisons, both when Christie was writing and today.  (Goodreads)

Genre: Nonfiction

Why I Picked This Book: Really all I needed to see was Agatha Christie's name on the cover and I was in.

My Impression:If this book had been written for me I'm not sure I could've been more pleased with it!  This has been one of the books I was most looking forward to this month and it didn't disappoint.  I knew I was going to be happy when I saw that the chapters were not only divided by poison but had a book connected to it:
A is for Arsenic - Murder is Easy
B is for Belladonna - The Labours of Hercules
C is for Cyanide - Sparkling Cyanide
and so on down the alphabet.

Each chapter tells you everything you've ever wanted to know about each poison - the chemical makeup, the history, famous cases involving that poison, antidotes and treatments, and Agatha's experience with it and how she used it in her books.  I loved reading about the ins and outs of the poison and seeing the real life cases that Agatha must have seen as well as seeing how it all tied into her books.

While I really loved this one to me it's more of a reference book than a read from start to finish so ebook wasn't the format I wanted to go with.  I've already ordered my print copy and can't wait for it to get here!  I'm looking forward to adding this book to my Agatha collection

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Definitely!  I'm hoping for more books tied into the great mystery authors.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  If you are an Agatha fan - particularly if you own all her books - you must get your hands on a copy of this one.

Challenges Met?

31 comments:

  1. Gee, another book beckoning to me. Thanks for finding a reviewing it. I'll add it to my wanna read list!

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    1. This is a fun resource - especially if you ever need to poison off a character :)

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  2. Definitely sounds intriguing.I admit to a curiosity about how poisons work and it's neat that the author tied them to a specific author.

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    1. I found this really interesting and it definitely broadened my knowledge of poison and you know I can't resist an Agatha connection!

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  3. Sounds like a mystery lover's dream!!

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  4. This looks interesting! I've always liked poisons in a mystery and how much does the average person know about them, anyway (and maybe that's good!), but I think this would be fascinating reading. I like how ot goes through the alphabet too...

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    1. It probably is good. Suddenly being the expert on poison has my family giving me funny looks!

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  5. This sounds like something I'd like.

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  6. Sounds great! I have this one to review and I need to get on it. :)

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    1. I think this is a fun one though it's not really one is read cover to cover. I hope you enjoy it!

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  7. British author Douglas Clark ( d.2012) used chemical poisoning in all his books. I did find him on Goodreads.

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    1. I'm not sure I've heard of him but he definitely sounds like an author I'd enjoy. Off to goodreads for some titles ideas!

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  8. Need, want, must have!! This is the type of book you place on the coffee table and read a little each day!

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  9. I've only read one Agatha book but can't remember which one. This would be a really cool book for fans to have though.

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    1. She had 85 mysteries so there are many possibilities! It's hard to keep them all straight.

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  10. I remember hearing about this book and it sounds great. You've reminded me it needs to go on my list!

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    1. If you like mysteries this is a good one. There's an insane amount of information in here but it's still so readable.

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  11. This sounds fascinating, Katherine. I think Agatha Christie was my first exposure to the idea of poison as a murder weapon! I think you're right that this would be a great reference book and having the print version is the way to go. I love the cover of this, too!

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    1. This is gorgeous in print and I get to enjoy the cover much better in print. It's such an interesting and unusual reference.

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  12. Sounds like a good reference for every library and mystery writer.

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    1. Definitely! I found it very interesting.

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  13. Oh, this sounds so cool! I knew Christie had been a pharmacist and drew on that knowledge in writing her mysteries. This would be a terrific book for an aspiring or working mystery writer today, as well as any Christie fan. Thanks for the recommendation!

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    1. I knew she was too and I knew she did some research but I had no idea how much! This was so interesting!

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  14. I am so glad you liked this one! I really want to read it too. I don't know that I'm fascinated with murder exactly, but rather the human behavioral aspects surrounding such a crime--or any crime for that matter. Poison really is an unusual choice for murder. And I love Agatha Christie. I will make sure this one is added to my wish list. Thanks for your great review!

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  15. Although not my kind of book. Or the book for me. It sounds super interesting. I love when you can collect anything to do with your favourite fandom. Gotta collect it all.
    Happy reading!
    Brittany @ This is the Story of My(Reading) Life

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