Fascinating and entertaining, tinged with both humor and horror, this account of the early years of forensic medicine in New York City is near unputdownable. We follow the city's Medical Examiner and head toxicologist as they develop the techniques for detecting the poisons we use to kill each other, and sometimes ourselves. The author, a respected science writer, devotes each chapter to a dangerous compound--two each to carbon monoxide and methyl alcohol (these were the prohibition years, when "bathtub gin" was ubiquitous and taking a drink was really taking your life into your own hands).
--Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
A beguiling concoction-equal parts true crime, twentieth-century history, and science thriller.
A fascinating Jazz Age tale of chemistry and detection, poison and murder, The Poisoner's Handbook is a page-turning account of a forgotten era. In early twentieth-century New York, poisons offered an easy path to the perfect crime. Science had no place in the Tammany Hall-controlled coroner's office, and corruption ran rampant. However, with the appointment of chief medical examiner Charles Norris in 1918, the poison game changed forever. Together with toxicologist Alexander Gettler, the duo set the justice system on fire with their trailblazing scientific detective work, triumphing over seemingly unbeatable odds to become the pioneers of forensic chemistry.