A IS for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie

Author(s): Kathryn Harkup

Classic Crime

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

Kathryn Harkup is a chemist and author. Kathryn completed a doctorate on her favourite chemicals, phosphines, and went on to further postdoctoral research before realising 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.

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

General Fields

  • : 9781472911322
  • : Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • : Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • : 0.228
  • : November 2016
  • : 198mm X 129mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : November 2016
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Kathryn Harkup
  • : Paperback
  • : 615.9
  • : 320
  • : Black and white illustrations throughout