Monday, April 4, 2011

The Poisoner's Handbook, by Deborah Blum

The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York Pulitzer Prize winner Deborah Blum is an immensely readable writer of scientific fact.  Even though my eyes crossed in my college chemistry classes, and my textbooks put me to sleep, I found it difficult to put down Blum's detailed history of the birth of toxicology in Jazz Age New York City.

Easy to read, easy to understand, and chilling to contemplate, the history presented here reads like a well-written novel, and is essential reading for any novelist contemplating using any of the poisons covered in these pages.  Novelists writing about Jazz Age New York would do well to read this book, too, just for the rich detail and meticulous research that went into the preparation of this text.

For a general reader, I would also highly recommend this book, unless you are extremely squeamish. The narrative is compelling, character-driven, and full of good people fighting the good fight to put criminals behind bars, with increasing success.

I read this in hardcover, but I would highly recommend purchasing an e-book if you have a reader for it, as there are no graphics other than a handful of chemical compositions, spelled out rather than rendered as images.

Grammar and sentence structure were consistently well-done throughout, making the reading experience very smooth and pleasant.

Thank you, Ms. Blum, for an excellent and informative read!

***** Five Stars

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