The Pharmacists Book Club discussion

The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York
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First Book of the group > Discussion-Book 1- Poisoner's Handbook

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Nydia “Cookie” | 20 comments Mod
Let's see if we can get this book club going. Anyone going to read the first book?


Lori | 4 comments I listened to the audio form of this book and thought it was great. Here is my review for it:

A great depiction of forensic science at the time of the great depression, speakeasies, and Ginger Jake, this story highlights an era when we knew very little about chemistry, physiology, and toxicology as they intertwine in the human body. Charles Norris and Alexander Gettler, along with their team of scientists, work tirelessly to further our understanding in the field, setting the foundation and paving the way for modern-day scientists. Cyanide, arsenic, mercury, radon, and methyl alcohol are amongst the poisons discussed in this book utilizing various crimes as a stage.

Toxicology, like any science, is an ongoing study. Even with as much data we've collected on chemicals once thought to be safe, there are still compounds, new and old, that we have little to no research on their long-term effects. We hope our government, with its current laws and regulations, are able to keep us safe, but constant vigilance is a must especially when there are so many factors involved. Factors such as the lack of long-term research, the desire for monetary profits, or the desperate need for physical enhancements can contribute to detrimental health.


Narration:
Narrator: Coleen Marlo
Performance: 5/5
Speed: 1.25x
Stories like this requires a narrator that is neither too animated nor too dull because the contents of the tale is not heavily dialogue driven but more factual information being presented. Marlo was easy to listen too and she added some dramatization to the various individuals depicted in the novel which helped add variety and interest to the story.


Nydia “Cookie” | 20 comments Mod
Excellent summary of the book. But I was most impressed in the manner by which the author weaves the crimes through the facts about various poisons and diseases. This gives the book a mystery-thriller atmosphere. The explanation of scientific tidbits of information can sometimes come off as dry and repetitive, but not so in this book.

Now are we getting people interested in reading it??

I am also an audio book listener and listened to this book first through Audible and then bought it to share with family and friends.


message 4: by Sita (new) - added it

Sita Jacobson (SpotSita) | 2 comments I just finished the first chapter, chloroform. What an engaging and dramatic story. I had no idea about the political rule over the coroners position. I wonder about the effects of the press, writing that you could get away with murder by poison. Do you think newspapers had any role to play in the widespread use of poison to kill? They seemed to play a role in the coroners reform law.


Nydia “Cookie” | 20 comments Mod
Sorry I didn't respond in a timely manner, I was on vacation. Yes, I think that the press had some role in widespread use. The press in those days was entrenched in sensationalism. These poisonings would make excellent news (and sales).
Anyone else reading?


Nydia “Cookie” | 20 comments Mod
Anyone reading this book?

Any suggestions for the next book?


Rachel | 2 comments I just finished reading The Poisoners Handbook... I thought it was excellent! I loved how Blum combined science with a crime aspect but always used real stories and events. It was so interesting to learn about Gettler and Norris, their whole team seem really inspiring. I particularly enjoyed the chapter on Radium, was shocked at the extent to which it caused damage in people's lives. It is so sad that so many products were used without first finding out the damage they could cause to people (I still worry about what products are like this today). I would of liked to have read a bit more about Thallium, I feel as if that chapter was mainly used to round of the book without there being much more information about that poison. Overall I thought It was a brilliant and informing read, it combined science and chemistry with real life events, without being dry .. Something I think a lot of authors have difficulty with!


Nydia “Cookie” | 20 comments Mod
Thanks for your review Rachel. I agree, it does make us think about present day products and their long term effects.


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