Gerrigray'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
Jul 30, 12

Read in February, 2012

I read this because my daughter recomended it. It is fascinating. Investigating murders had very little science applied to the evidence in the early 20th century. (Do you remember the episode of "Bonanza" in which their Chinese cook, Hop Sing,introduced fingerprints from the ancient Chinese?) Fingerprints were still not being used by the FBI in the early part of the 20th century. (See the movie "J. Edgar.")Most murders by poison went unprosecuted for lack of evidence. Two chemists, Norris and Gettler, working in Bellevue Hospital thought that they could use their knowledge of chemistry to develop ways of detecting poison in the bodies of murder victims.

Not only is this the story of these two chemists, but there are many stories of murder and detection. Prohibition led to a lot of deathes by poisoning because of what people were willing to drink in lieu of good and safe alcohol. The death toll from poisoning became so high that local politicians began looking for a way to repeal prohibition.

If you like crime stories you will like this nonfiction about crimes by poisoning. This is a page turner.

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