Agatha Christie. New releases reviewed. #1. A is for Arsenic by Kathryn Harkup

Last month, September 2015, saw the world celebrating AgathaharkupChristie’s 125th birthday. Several books, events, broadcasts, and other releases marked the occasion. Finally, I’ve got organized and on top of my shopping list. This week, I’ll be reviewing five new Christie releases. One a day.

I bought this is an e-book because it seemed like the kind of thing one consults rather than reading cover to cover or dipping into. The e-book is very nicely presented and I think I made the right choice. Every paragraph exudes personality, even the histories and descriptions of how these poisons work or are dealt with. From the first chapter, it is clear that Kathryn Harkup is a tremendous Christie enthusiast and a highly conscientious researcher. I am really enjoying Harkup’s engaging writing style – all too rare with scientific minds! – and there is a wealth of comprehensive, up-to-date information about the various poisons Christie used to dispatch her 300+ victims.

All too often, we forget that Agatha Christie was a qualified pharmacist who knew her onions – and her arsenic. Famously, of the thousands of positive reviews for her books, her favourite was an early one from the Pharmaceutical Journal and Pharmacist, which praised her technical knowledge of toxicology. This is not the first book of its kind – there was an interesting study in 1993 by Michael C. Gerald called The Poisonous Pen of Agatha Christie – but it is by far the most informative, the most entertaining, and the highest profile. A welcome addition to a growing body of work that sees the Queen of Crime in new, unexpected lights.

Tomorrow: Tom Adams Uncovered: The Art of Agatha Christie and Beyond

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