In a courtroom in France a few years before the murder in question, a prosecuting lawyer who was unsuccessfully trying to prove a case of murder by morphine declared thus: ‘Henceforth, let us tell would-be poisoners … use plant poisons. Fear nothing; your crime will go unpunished. There is no corpus delecti [physical evidence], for it cannot be found.’
A is for Arsenic is one of those books that I will look forward to consulting again while I read my way through the the Agatha Christie novels. It is the perfect companion that explains (mostly without spoilers!) the science behind the poisons used in Christie's mysteries.
While the book is written for readers / fans of Dame Agatha, Harkup makes sure to also include real life stories about the poisons, a description of their history, the science behind them, and information about detection and antidotes (where they exist!).
I loved everything about this book - the content, the way Harkup relates information without overbearing and without expecting readers to have a full working knowledge of chemistry (tho a little understanding of chemistry and biology is required), and the way that each topic is structured into different sections (background, chemistry, link to Christie, antidotes).
This was as entertaining as it was informative - and it even made me look up some more information about chemical compounds, which very few books or people have managed before. This is exactly the sort of book that I wish I had read when studying chemistry at school because it may actually have helped to give context to some of the theory about how things react with each other.
Loved, loved, LOVED this.
(Thanks, Murder by Death for recommending this!)