Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Elements of Murder

I've been thinking about poisons a lot lately... relax, Hubby and the kids are quite safe.

Being a pharmacist in a former life, I have quite a fondness of poisons. I was fossicking around for some information on a nice little component of belladonna when I rediscovered this handy book. The Elements of Murder by British scientist John Emsley.

It is a fascinating glimpse into history and the ingenious ways people found to knock others off using the elemental poisons, in this instance, mercury, arsenic, antimony, lead and thallium. Emsley delves into famous cases in history, as well as the wider uses of the elements. With chapter headings like Mad cats and mad hatters: accidental mercury poisoning, and Requiem for antimony, the tone is very readable and informative.

I had the pleasure of seeing John Emsley in action when he toured here a few years ago promoting the book. A lecture theatre full of scientists eager to hear about using poisons to kill people... it was a worry... I felt quite at home.

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