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The Inheritor's Powder by Sandra Hempel
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The Inheritor's Powder

by Sandra Hempel

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Recently added byGanneC, Ellen_R
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For centuries arsenic had been used for medicinal and pest control issues. In the early 1800's arsenic was quite readily available for purchase and because it was odorless and mixed easily with food and drink, it became the poison of choice for those who wished to do away with those rich relatives who just wouldn't die quickly enough. The 1833 case of George Bodle, a weathly landowner in Plumstead, England, brought the issue of detecting arsenic poisoning to the foreground. The entire Bodle household, including the servants, became suddenly ill after breakfast one November morning. Everyone, except patriarch George, recovered and George's grandson, John, stood accused of murder. The local doctor requested the help of James Marsh, a chemist who had been devising a test for arsenic poisoning. The Bodle case lingered long in the court system due to mismanagement of evidence, arguments over who was going to pay for the trial, and generally laughable police work as the local constable visits several pubs on his way to the police station with the accused murderer in tow. This murder trial is the main focus but many other arsenic deaths are mentioned as well as the quest for a definitive test for the poison.

Hempel has obviously done a great deal of research into her subject matter and the Bodle case itself reads like an interesting Victorian mystery. I did find the book was difficult to follow at times for there were so many people to try to keep straight. For the most part I enjoyed the book.
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  Ellen_R | Jan 15, 2016 |
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