June 4, 2015

The Poisoner’s Handbook by Deborah Blum

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 1:56 am by suebe2

The Poisoner’s Handbook:
Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York
by Deborah Blum
Penguin Books

This book is part mystery and all excitement.  Pardon me if I get my geek on while I tell you about this one.

This is the story of the creation of forensic science — ferreting out who was murdered vs who dies by accident and what means was used to do the criminal deed.  Poison is easier to get ahold of then most people realize and it was even easier during Prohibition.  Bootleg?  An amazing amount of it was deadly in part because the government poisoned the ingredients.  Drink it and die?  Too bad.  You were breaking the law.

But bootleg wasn’t the only poison discussed in the book.  There was also arsenic, chloroform, mercury and radium.  Chief medical examiner Charles Norris and toxicologist Alexander Gettler form a crime fighting team like no other.  They are amazing because they were real and they dedicated their lives and their fortunes to devising ways to detect poisons in the body and then to tell where the poisons came from.

Note:  This is not a children’s book. This is straight up adult nonfiction.  And because it deals with poison and murder, it deals with all kinds of nefarious deeds.

Why then am I recommending it?  If you have a young person who loves science, they need to see this book. This will show them how they can use the science that they are learning in school to do work that matters.  My son is interested in being a forensic investigator and this book is next on his reading list.

Any teen who likes crime dramas or CSI needs to read this book.  All nonfiction should be this well written!



1 Comment »

  1. […] The Poisoner’s Handbook by Deborah Blum. Adult narrative nonfiction, this book tells about the creation of forensic science — ferreting out who was murdered vs who died by accident and what poison was used to do the criminal deed.  Teens would love it and it is a good exercise in “exciting ways to use what you are learning in school.” […]

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