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A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie
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Bloomsbury Publishing 2015
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Description
Shortlisted for the BMA Book Awards and Macavity Awards 2016


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


Agatha Christie revelled 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.
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Format:
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Street Date:
9/10/2015
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781472911292
ASIN:
B00WK3FGSQ
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Kathryn Harkup. (2015). A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Kathryn Harkup. 2015. A Is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Kathryn Harkup, A Is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Kathryn Harkup. A Is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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      • bioText: Kathryn Harkup is a chemist and author. Kathryn completed a PhD then a postdoc at the University of York before realising that talking, writing and demonstrating science appealed far more than spending hours slaving over a hot fume-hood. Kathryn went on to run outreach in engineering, computing, physics and maths at the University of Surrey, which involved writing talks on science and engineering topics that would appeal to bored teenagers, and she is now a science communicator delivering talks and workshops on the quirky side of science.
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A is for Arsenic
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Shortlisted for the BMA Book Awards and Macavity Awards 2016

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


Agatha Christie revelled 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.
reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: The Washington Post
      • content: A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie ... has lethal charm. [Kathryn] Harkup leads every chapter with a literary quote, then proceeds to tell us what the poison is, how and under what circumstances it kills, some real-life instances of its use and what role it plays in the Christie plot ... good fun.
      • premium: False
      • source: BBC Focus (Science and Technology)
      • content: ...a cracking compendium of Christie's poisonings...A Is For Arsenic will appeal to any fan of Christie's work, but as a potted history of poisons, antidotes and medicines it has much wider reach than that.
      • premium: False
      • source: Agatha Christie Website
      • content: Fact and fun packed, A is for Arsenic looks at why certain chemicals kill, how they interact with th body, and the feasibility of obtaining, administering and detecting these poisons.
      • premium: False
      • source: Publishers Weekly
      • content: Intriguing and illuminating ... will please mystery fans, true crime readers, and lovers of popular science.
      • premium: False
      • source: Washington Independent Review of Books
      • content: An enjoyable, alphabetical overview of the renowned mystery writer's frequent weapon of choice.
      • premium: False
      • source: How it Works
      • content: A fascinating look at the poisons used in Christie's work.
      • premium: False
      • source: Chemistry World
      • content: If you are coming to Agatha Christie's work for the first time, an avid fan, have an interest in crime or toxicology, or just like being taken on an adventure through time, A is for Arsenic is a must read.
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        July 13, 2015
        Harkup, a chemist and Agatha Christie fan, celebrates the 125th anniversary of the Dame’s birth with this intriguing and illuminating examination of Christie’s use of poisons in her mysteries. She begins by examining Christie’s background with regard to poisons, as well as her commitment to the ethos of the detective writer. Harkup does not name a poison for every letter, but she does include more than a dozen, arranged in alphabetical chapters from Arsenic to Veronal. She gives detailed, layperson-friendly explanations of how each poison acts on the body, along with its history and origin. Readers will also find real-world cases, including some that may have inspired Christie. In addition, the science, history, and literary explication are all leavened with a generous dose of poison trivia. Harkup includes two appendices: the first covers causes of death in Christie’s stories and novels, while the second provides chemical diagrams for many of the compounds. Though Harkup does not reveal any of Christie’s culprits, the book deserves a “Spoiler Alert” tag, as she does explain how the poisons are administered as well as how the respective sleuths come to their conclusions. This compilation should please mystery fans, true crime readers, and lovers of popular science.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        September 1, 2015

        Former research chemist Harkup examines the gamut of poisons successfully employed in Agatha Christie's mysteries. Each of the 14 chapters takes us through the history of a toxic chemical element, molecule, or class of compounds, its physiological effect (including possible medicinal uses at proper dosages), notable real-life murders, and a synopsis of how it was employed in Christie's work. Care is taken to not name the murderer, though twice "spoiler" warnings are given when revealing the culprit is inevitable. On a few occasions the author points out where Christie may have taken liberties for plot convenience, but Christie's own training as a pharmaceutical assistant served her remarkably well in crafting scientifically accurate tales. Appendixes include a list of Christie's stories with causes of death noted and another of chemical structures of compounds. Michael Gerald's The Poisonous Pen of Agatha Christie covers similar ground but aims for a more exhaustive inventory and readability suffers a bit. VERDICT Recommended for scientifically curious mystery lovers and aficionados of CSI-type forensic dramas.--Wade M. Lee, Univ. of Toledo Lib.

        Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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Shortlisted for the BMA Book Awards and Macavity Awards 2016

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


Agatha Christie revelled 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...
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tableOfContents
1. Dame Agatha's Deadly Dispensary
2. A is for Arsenic – Murder is Easy
3. B is for Belladonna – The Labours of Hercules
4. C is for Cyanide – Sparkling Cyanide
5. D is for Digitalis – Appointment with Death
6. E is for Eserine – Crooked House
7. H is for Hemlock – Five Little Pigs
8. M is for Monkshood – 4:50 from Paddington
9. N is for Nicotine – Three Act Tragedy
10. O is for Opium – Sad Cypress
11. P is for Phosphorus – Dumb Witness
12. R is for Ricin – Partners in Crime
13. S is for Strychnine – The Mysterious Affair at Styles
14. T is for Thallium – The Pale Horse
15. V is for Veranol – Lord Edgware Dies

Appendix
Glossary
Bibliography