Laura's Reviews > The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York

The Poisoner's Handbook by Deborah Blum
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's review
Dec 30, 11

Read in December, 2011

You don't need a degree in chemistry to enjoy this book, but it might help (as it did in my case!)

This is a fascinating look at the first Medical Examiner and first Forensic Toxicologist for NYC, and the many cases of poisoning, both homicidal and unintentional, that they investigated together. I have to say, I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of the physical laboratory at Bellevue itself, and the sounds and smells of the chemistry lab in all their glory. The unexpected addition of the interwoven trials and tribulations of Charles Norris as the first ME for the city was an interesting bonus, and a valuable historical perspective. The descriptions of the poisoning symptoms, and the mechanism of action of the poisons, was accurate, and listening as a well-informed specialist in the area, I found only minor faults and oversights which did not hamper my enjoyment of this book.

Highly recommend to the science-minded, intellectually curious, and anyone who has ever enjoyed the sound of lighting a Bunsen burner.

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