A Is for Arsenic : The Poisons of Agatha Christie, Hardback

A Is for Arsenic : The Poisons of Agatha Christie Hardback

5 out of 5 (1 rating)


Shortlisted for the BMA Book Awards and Macavity Awards 2016 Fourteen novels.

Fourteen poisons. Just because it's fiction doesn't mean it's all made-up ...Agatha Christie revelled in the use of poison to kill off unfortunate victims in her books; indeed, she employed it more than any other murder method, with the poison itself often being a central part of the novel.

Her choice of deadly substances was far from random - the characteristics of each often provide vital clues to the discovery of the murderer.

With gunshots or stabbings the cause of death is obvious, but this is not the case with poisons.

How is it that some compounds prove so deadly, and in such tiny amounts?

Christie's extensive chemical knowledge provides the backdrop for A is for Arsenic, in which Kathryn Harkup investigates the poisons used by the murderer in fourteen classic Agatha Christie mysteries.

It looks at why certain chemicals kill, how they interact with the body, the cases that may have inspired Christie, and the feasibility of obtaining, administering and detecting these poisons, both at the time the novel was written and today. A is for Arsenic is a celebration of the use of science by the undisputed Queen of Crime.


  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 320 pages, Black and white illustrations throughout
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Fiction companions
  • ISBN: 9781472911308



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If you have any interest in poisons and/or Agatha Christie, do check out this new book. It's absolutely fascinating. It goes into deep detail about the history of the poisons, how they work, if there are antidotes, and how Christie used the poison and her accuracy (which tends to be quite high). <i>A is for Arsenic</i> is a fast read. The chapters are short, and the way that it mixes Christie's fiction with fact works very well.I would categorize the book along with <i>The Poisoner's Handbook</i> by Deborah Blum for how it tackles history and science together; needless to say, I love <i>Poisoner's Handbook</i> as well. It's a book I have referred to multiple times in my writing. Harkup's book will likewise gain reference use. It actually already made me pause, as I think I need to make corrections to a manuscript I'll be editing soon.This is definitely one of my favorite nonfiction reads for the year. If you write fiction that involves poison, get it. If you love mysteries, get it. If you want to catch odd glances in public, get it (bonus points for how it has a cool vintage-style cover, too)

Also by Kathryn Harkup