A Is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie

Author(s): Kathryn Harkup


Agatha Christie's detailed plotting is what makes her books so compelling. Christie used poison to kill her characters more often than any other murder method, with the poison itself being 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 discovery of the murderer. With gunshots or stabbings the cause of death is obvious, but not so with poisons. How is it that some compounds prove so deadly, and in such tiny amounts? Christie demonstrated her extensive chemical knowledge (much of it gleaned from her working in a chemists during both world wars) in many of her novels, but this is rarely appreciated by the reader. A is for Arsenic celebrates the use of science in Christie's work. Written by Christie fan and research chemist Kathryn Harkup, each chapter takes a different novel and investigates the poison (or poisons) the murderer used. 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 at the time the novel was written and today. This book is published as part of the 125th anniversary celebration of Christie's birth. Fourteen novels. Fourteen poisons. Just because its fiction doesn't mean its all made-up ...


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Fourteen novels. Fourteen poisons. Just because it's fiction doesn't mean its all made-up ...

Kathryn Harkup is a chemist and author. Kathryn completed a doctorate on her favourite chemicals, phosphines, and went on to further postdoctoral research before realising that talking, writing and demonstrating science appealed a bit more than hours slaving over a hot fume-hood. For six years she ran the outreach in engineering, computing, physics and maths at the University of Surrey, which involved writing talks on science topics that would appeal to bored teenagers (anything disgusting or dangerous was usually the most popular). Kathryn is now a freelance science communicator delivering talks and workshops on the quirky side of science.

1. Dame Agatha's Deadly Dispensary 2. A is for Arsenic - Murder is Easy 3. B is for Belladonna - The Labours of Hercules 4. C is for Cyanide - Sparkling Cyanide 5. D is for Digitalis - Appointment with Death 6. E is for Eserine - Crooked House 7. H is for Hemlock - Five Little Pigs 8. M is for Monkshood - 4:50 from Paddington 9. N is for Nicotine - Three Act Tragedy 10. O is for Opium - Sad Cypress 11. P is for Phosphorus - Dumb Witness 12. R is for Ricin - Partners in Crime 13. S is for Strychnine - The Mysterious Affair at Styles 14. T is for Thallium - The Pale Horse 15. V is for Veranol - Lord Edgware Dies Appendix Glossary Bibliography

General Fields

  • : 9781472911315
  • : Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • : Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • : 0.35
  • : July 2015
  • : October 2015
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Kathryn Harkup
  • : Paperback
  • : Export/Airside
  • : en
  • : 320
  • : Black and white illustrations throughout