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A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha…
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A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie (original 2015; edition 2015)

by Kathryn Harkup (Author)

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3671970,815 (4.03)49
Investigates the poisons Christie employs in fourteen of her mysteries, discussing why the poisons kill, how they interact, obtainability of such poisons, and which cases may have inspired Christie's stories.
Member:drweeks
Title:A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie
Authors:Kathryn Harkup (Author)
Info:Bloomsbury Sigma (2015), Edition: 1, 241 pages
Collections:Audio Books
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A is for Arsenic: the Poisons of Agatha Christie by Kathryn Harkup (2015)

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A selection of the poisons Agatha Christie used in her novels and short stories. For each poison Harkup describes the biological action, the visible symptoms, how to test for it, where to obtain it (fortunately most poisons are not nearly as easy to find these days), and real-life crimes it has been used in. She refers to the stories and novels and, when there are spoilers, warns the reader and gives the option of moving past them. She comments on Christie's scientific accuracy, which turns out to be, within the limitations of the scientific knowledge of the times, mostly excellent. The account of thallium poisoning in The Pale Horse has even saved lives.

Some knowledge of biology and chemistry is an advantage because even though the author's explanations are clear enough they make only superficial sense. ( )
  pamelad | Feb 19, 2024 |
Note: I received a digital review copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.
  fernandie | Sep 15, 2022 |
This is an enjoyable and informative read. It takes 14 of the poisons used by Agatha Christie in her books and looks at them in more detail. This covers the origin of the poison, how is it extracted and made and how it works on the body to cure (if it has therapeutic use) and kill. All of which is told in down to earth language such that the non technical specialist can follow what is being described, although not so much that you could necessarily extract the poison yourself!
From there is looks at cases involving the poison that occurred before and after the relevant books' publication. Some of them were inspired by a case, in others the book may have inspired use. The most interesting one from this perspective was where the book helped solve a poisoning case, as the nurse recognised the symptoms of her patient from the description in Christie's book. At times she was following old paths, at times her use of the poison was contemporary and in other quite novel.
There are 14 different poisons in here, and that felt like about enough. ( )
  Helenliz | Feb 23, 2022 |
I was really hoping for more background into Agatha Christie's own research and history regarding her stories and the chapters (drugs). However it was just using drugs from Agatha Christie's writings to discuss chemistry, not as it regards her fiction. Very dry and boring. ( )
  MistressHovakimian | Dec 27, 2021 |
[A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie] is fascinating. The author goes through each of the poisons, in alphabetical order, that Christie used in her novels, and the format is excellent. First she gives the history of the drug, and any of its derivatives. Then she explains how the drug interacts with the body. Next she discusses antidotes and detection. Finally she talks about real life cases of using it as a poison and how Christie incorporated some of these into her novels. She does reveal which poisons are used in which novels and who the victims are, but she does not spoil the endings - she never reveals the murderer or how they are caught. The exception to this is the chapter on Opium, but she warns you first and tells you where to turn to if you want to skip the spoilers - hard to argue with that! The chemistry nerd in me is loved it, but you don't have to have a background in chemistry to appreciate and understand the material presented. Definitely highly recommended. ( )
1 vote Crazymamie | Nov 29, 2020 |
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That was the beginning of the whole thing. I suddenly saw my way clear. And I determined to commit not one murder, but murder on a grand scale.
Agatha Christie, And Then There Were None
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Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie (1890-1976), the 'Queen of Crime', holds the Guinness World Record as most successful novelist of all time.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Investigates the poisons Christie employs in fourteen of her mysteries, discussing why the poisons kill, how they interact, obtainability of such poisons, and which cases may have inspired Christie's stories.

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