Mistress of Death Review: ‘A is for Arsenic’ Examines 14 Real Poisons in the Works of Agatha Christie


cover68319-mediumWhat happens when you combine the expertise of a research chemist and the fictional work of a real life pharmacist and prolific mystery writer? A is for Arsenic is as explanation of Agatha Christie’s written works and the use of real life poisons in her work. Christie learned of symptoms and poisons during her time working as a pharmacist during both World Wars.  With each horrific murder in her books, the reader is unknowingly getting an accurate picture of the effects of said poison.

Kathryn Harkup, the writer of A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie (Bloomsbury Sigma), is a research chemist and this shows through and through. Her ability to describe the complex chemical compositions and reactions of items like cyanide and hemlock in understandable terms makes the book a joy to read. A is for Arsenic makes learning about Organic Chemistry far more interesting than many a college course.

A is for Arsenic also does a great breakdown of the plot lines of 14 different Agatha Christie stories, taking good care to express when for example a book title is different in the USA than in the United Kingdom. This makes it much easier to pick up the books in question when one is done with A is for Arsenic, or taking them off the shelf one by one to compare.

>A is for Arsenic is a fun read for those who have read Christie’s works and those who have an interest in chemistry.

A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie (Bloomsbury Sigma) is available September 8, 2015.


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