A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie

A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie

by Kathryn Harkup


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Fourteen novels. Fourteen poisons. Just because it's fiction doesn't mean it's all made-up . . .

Agatha Christie reveled in the use of poison to kill off unfortunate victims in her books; indeed, she employed it more than any other murder method, with the poison itself often being a central part of the novel. Her choice of deadly substances was far from random--the characteristics of each often provide vital clues to the discovery of the murderer. With gunshots or stabbings the cause of death is obvious, but this is not the case with poisons. How is it that some compounds prove so deadly, and in such tiny amounts?

Christie's extensive chemical knowledge provides the backdrop for A is for Arsenic, in which Kathryn Harkup investigates the poisons used by the murderer in fourteen classic Agatha Christie mysteries. It looks at why certain chemicals kill, how they interact with the body, the cases that may have inspired Christie, and the feasibility of obtaining, administering and detecting these poisons, both at the time the novel was written and today. A is for Arsenic is a celebration of the use of science by the undisputed Queen of Crime.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781472911322
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 01/03/2017
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 291,005
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Kathryn Harkup is a chemist and author. Kathryn completed a doctorate on her favorite chemicals, phosphines, and went on to further postdoctoral research before realizing that talking, writing and demonstrating science appealed a bit more than hours slaving over a hot fume-hood. For six years she ran the outreach in engineering, computing, physics and maths at the University of Surrey, which involved writing talks on science topics that would appeal to bored teenagers (anything disgusting or dangerous was usually the most popular). Kathryn is now a freelance science communicator delivering talks and workshops on the quirky side of science.

Table of Contents

Dame Agatha's Deadly Dispensary 9

A is for Arsenic - Murder is Easy 19

B is for Belladonna - The Labours of Hercules 49

C is for Cyanide - Sparkling Cyanide 71

D is for Digitalis - Appointment with Death 89

E is for Eserine - Crooked House 109

H is for Hemlock - Five Little Pigs 127

M is for Monkshood - 4.50 from Paddington 141

N is for Nicotine - Three Act Tragedy 157

O is for Opium - Sad Cypress 175

P is for Phosphorus - Dumb Witness 203

R is for Ricin - Partners in Crime 223

S is for Strychnine - The Mysterious Affair at Styles 237

T is for Thallium - The Pale Horse 255

V is for Veronal - Lord Edgware Dies 275

Appendix 1 Christie's Causes of Death 291

Appendix 2 Structures of some of the chemicals in this book 308

Selected Bibliography 312

Acknowledgements 314

Index 315

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A Is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
KimHeniadis More than 1 year ago
Mystery will always be my favorite genre, and when I saw a book about the Queen of Mystery and poisons, I just had to give it a read. Kathryn Harkup did a fantastic job with the scientific and historic information, real life cases, and not giving away who did it. I did skip a bit over the scientific information, just because chemistry has never been a strong area of interest to me. Although I have been dabbling in essential oils, so I’m actually starting to get a bit more into chemical combinations and reactions. I’ve been reading True Crime since middle school, so I found the real life cases fascinating. And as far as the historical information went, if kids were taught about stuff like this in history classes, instead of just having to memorize dates and places, I think a lot more kids would enjoy history and do better in school. Since this book touches so many genres, I think many different people would enjoy this one. I highly recommend giving it a read if you enjoy mysteries, true crime, science, or history. And I also think this would be a valuable resources for writers.
DDJTJ More than 1 year ago
If you are a huge Agatha Christie fan this is the perfect book for your collection. I have loved Agatha Christie mysteries for many moons and I IS FOR ARSENIC THE POISONS OF AGATHA CHRISTIE BY KATHRYN HARKUP is a great addition to my collection. It takes every poison Christie used ( and she used plenty. It was her favorite method of killing) and not only gives you the run down on the poison but the novel or short story it was used in. Dont miss this one. Its more of a reference book but as a Christie fan you will enjoy, I did