A Taste for Poison: Eleven Deady Molecules and the Killers Who Used Them

Cover of A TASTE FOR POISON by Neil Bradbury
Neil Bradbury
Feb 1, 2022

Welcome to the latest edition of #NewTitleTuesday, where we take a closer look at a new book that's hitting the shelves of bookstores (and libraries) across the nation. Since my bailiwick is fiction, I naturally stick to the fiction side of things in this space - thrillers, historical fiction, fantasy, romance, that sort of thing. But today a book caught my eye about a topic that a lot of our patrons are going to love, as it's a title that covers a lot of bases no matter what genre you like.

A TASTE FOR POISON by Neil Bradbury is going to be of interest for classic mystery aficionados, historical fiction fans, the legions of true-crime readers and podcast listeners, and pretty much anyone who enjoys entertaining and educational non-fiction. Bradbury, a professor of physiology and biophysics, devotes a chapter each to eleven substances, all occurring naturally, that have been used by humans over the years for various reasons - but most importantly here for the purposes of murder.

Arsenic, nightshade, ricin, strychnine, and many more - you might remember them from Agatha Christie mysteries, and some of them have been in use since ancient times, but in the right amounts and in the right circumstances, each can lead to death. Bradbury takes a look at each from a chemical sense and describes what exactly they do to the human body, and then switches tracks and looks at their historical use - where they were discovered, what purpose they were originally used for, and then how they became instrumental in death. He points out that forensics in the sense that we know it today hasn't been around for that long, and if put to use by a professional, poisons like these could historically be quite difficult to track or to separate from death by mere natural causes.

Bradbury combines mystery, thriller, science, and history in an intoxicating and entertaining mix, and a book like this is great for general audiences. Place your holds!

Written by Gregg W.

I have surprisingly strong opinions about comic book characters.