What’s Your Poison?

The choice of classic whodunits, Victorian serial killers, assassins, and even employers. This Halloween, read up on the scary world of poisons and other toxic substances.

September 29, 2022

A Botanist's Guide To Parties And Poisons by Kate Khavari

A Botanist’s Guide To Parties And Poisons

Kate Khavari

Attempting to blaze a new trail for women at the University College London in 1923, research assistant Saffron Everleigh becomes involved in solving the murder of a professor’s wife who appeared to have been poisoned at a school dinner party.

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

The Lost Apothecary

Sarah Penner

Secretly dispensing poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them, a London apothecary triggers unintended consequences that shape three lives across multiple centuries.

Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart

Wicked Plants
The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother & Other Botanical Atrocities

Amy Stewart

Menacing botanical illustrations and splendidly ghastly drawings create a fascinating portrait of the evildoers that may be lurking in your own backyard. Drawing on history, medicine, science, and legend, this compendium of bloodcurdling botany will entertain, alarm, and enlighten even the most intrepid gardeners and nature lovers.

The Cabinets Of Barnaby Mayne by Elsa Hart

The Cabinets Of Barnaby Mayne

Elsa Hart

Visiting a formidable science-book collector’s home in the hopes of identifying plant specimens, 18th-century herbalist Cecily Kay finds herself investigating her host’s untimely murder when she observes unsettling inconsistencies.

Perfume by Patrick Suskind

The Story Of A Murderer.

Patrick Suskind

An odorless baby orphaned in a Paris gutter in 1738 grows to become a monster obsessed with his perfect sense of smell, and a desire to capture, by any means, the ultimate scent which will make him human.

The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

The Radium Girls
The Dark Story Of America’s Shining Women

Kate Moore

A full-length account of the struggles of hundreds of women who were exposed to dangerous levels of radium while working factory jobs during World War I describes how they were mislead by their employers and became embroiled in a groundbreaking battle for workers’ rights.

The Aosawa Murders by Riku Onda

The Aosawa Murders

Riku Onda

In the 1960s 17 people die of cyanide poisoning at a large party at the Aosawas, owners of a prominent clinic in an ancient castle city on the coast of the Sea of Japan. The only survivor is their teenage daughter Hisako, blind, beautiful, admired by all, but soon suspected of masterminding the crime.

The Case Of The Murderous Dr. Cream by Dean Jobb

The Case Of The Murderous Dr. Cream
The Hunt For A Victorian Era Serial Killer

Dean Jobb

In the span of fifteen years, Dr. Thomas Neill Cream murdered as many as ten people, a death toll with almost no precedent. Poison was his weapon of choice. Largely forgotten today, this villain was as brazen as the notorious Jack the Ripper. The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream exposes the blind trust given to medical practitioners, as well as the flawed detection methods, bungled investigations, corrupt officials, and stifling morality of Victorian society that allowed Dr. Cream to prey on vulnerable and desperate women, many of whom had turned to him for medical help.

A Very Expensive Poison by Luke Harding

A Very Expensive Poison
The Assassination Of Alexander Litvinenko And Putin’s War With The West

Luke Harding

An account of the life, poisoning death and legacy of journalist and Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko traces the author’s own life-risking investigation through Litvinenko’s final months infiltrating the arenas of organized criminals and political power players.

The Poison Squad by Deborah Blum

The Poison Squad
One Chemist’s Single-Minded Crusade For Food Safety At The Turn Of The Twentieth Century

Deborah Blum

Dr. Harvey Washington Wiley set out to ensure food safety. He selected food tasters to test various food additives and preservatives, letting them know that the substances could be harmful or deadly. The tasters were recognized for their courage, and became known as the poison squad.

Poison For Breakfast by Lemony Snicket

Poison For Breakfast

Lemony Snicket

In the years since this publishing house was founded, we have worked with an array of wondrous authors who have brought illuminating clarity to our bewildering world. Now, instead, we bring you Lemony Snicket.Over the course of his long and suspicious career, Mr. Snicket has investigated many things, including villainy, treachery, conspiracy, ennui, and various suspicious fires. In this book, he is investigating his own death.

Arsenic Under The Elms by Virginia A. McConnell

Arsenic Under The Elms
Murder In Victorian New Haven

Virginia A. McConnell

Focusing on two unsolved murders in late-nineteenth-century New Haven, the author exposes the secret world of arsenic, aphrodisiacs, and marital infidelity lurking under the town’s thin Victorian veneer.

The Inheritor's Powder by Sandra Hempel

The Inheritor’s Powder
A Tale Of Arsenic, Murder, And The New Forensic Science

Sandra Hempel

During the 1800s, arsenic powder was readily available as a household pesticide, and was so often used to kill off ailing relatives that it was called the ‘inheritor’s powder.’ Medical journalist Hempel offers a narrative of a Victorian-era case that was a turning point in the development of forensic science.

Arsenic And Old Lace by Frank Capra

Arsenic And Old Lace

Frank Capra

An easy going drama critic discovers that his kind and gentle aunts have a bizarre habit of poisoning gentlemen callers and burying them in the cellar.

 A Is For Arsenic by Kathryn Harkup

A Is For Arsenic
The Poisons Of Agatha Christie

Kathryn Harkup

Agatha Christie used poison to kill her characters more often than any other crime fiction writer. The poison was a central part of the novel, and her choice of deadly substances was far from random; the chemical and physiological characteristics of each poison provide vital clues to the discovery of the murderer. Christie demonstrated her extensive chemical knowledge (much of it gleaned by working in a pharmacy during both world wars) in many of her novels, but this is rarely appreciated by the reader. Written by former research chemist Kathryn Harkup, each chapter takes a different novel and investigates the poison used by the murderer. Fact- and fun-packed, A is for Arsenic looks at why certain chemicals kill, how they interact with the body, and the feasibility of obtaining, administering, and detecting these poisons, both when Christie was writing and today.

The Poisoner's Handbook by Deborah Blum

The Poisoner’s Handbook
Murder And The Birth Of Forensic Medicine In Jazz Age New York

Deborah Blum

The untold story of how poison rocked Jazz Age New York City. A pair of forensic scientists began their trailblazing chemical detective work, fighting to end an era when untraceable poisons offered an easy path to the perfect crime. Chief medical examiner Charles Norris and toxicologist Alexander Gettler investigate a family mysteriously stricken bald, factory workers with crumbling bones, a diner serving poisoned pies, and many others. Each case presents a deadly new puzzle and Norris and Gettler createrevolutionary experiments to tease out even the wiliest compounds from human tissue. From the vantage of their laboratory it also becomes clear that murderers aren’t the only toxic threat–modern life has created a kind of poison playground, and danger lurks around every corner.

The Royal Art Of Poison by Eleanor Herman

The Royal Art Of Poison
Filthy Palaces, Fatal Cosmetics, Deadly Medicine, And Murder Most Foul

Eleanor Herman

The story of poison is the story of power. For centuries, royal families have feared the gut-roiling, vomit-inducing agony of a little something added to their food or wine by an enemy. To avoid poison, they depended on tasters, unicorn horns, and antidotes tested on condemned prisoners. Servants licked the royal family’s spoons, tried on their underpants and tested their chamber pots. Eleanor Herman combines her unique access to royal archives with cutting-edge forensic discoveries to tell the true story of Europe’s glittering palaces: one of medical bafflement, poisonous cosmetics, ever-present excrement, festering natural illness, and, sometimes, murder.