Tuesday, July 26, 2016
The Poisons of Agatha Christie
Agatha Christie lovers who are curious about the poisons she used in her stories will love A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie by Kathryn Harkup. It's published by Bloomsbury Sigma.
This book starts with how Christie's volunteer stint as a nurse in a Torquay hospital dispensary during World War II provided the foundation for her lifelong interest in poisons. Then the book goes alphabetically by poison, chapter by chapter, through all of Christie's stories where poison was the murder weapon. Chapters include A is for Arsenic, B is for Belladonna, C is for Cyanide, D is for Digitalis and E is for Eserine. After E, out of necessity, the author does skip letters in the alphabet and ends with V is for Veronal.
Not only do you get background on why the poison fits that particular story, you also get the history of the poison - like Belladonna with its historical use as a beauty aid and a murder weapon.
The appendix to the book includes a handy chart listing all of the murder weapons in Christie's novels and short stories in order of publication. You can also find drawings of the chemical structures of some the poisons in the back.
It's an excellent resource for mystery writers and an interesting bit of history for Agatha Christie enthusiasts.
The book is out in hardback now and will be available in paperback this November.