The Poisoner's Handbook

ebook Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York

By Deborah Blum

cover image of The Poisoner's Handbook

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Equal parts true crime, twentieth-century history, and science thriller, The Poisoner's Handbook is "a vicious, page-turning story that reads more like Raymond Chandler than Madame Curie." —The New York Observer
“The Poisoner’s Handbook breathes deadly life into the Roaring Twenties.” —Financial Times
“Reads like science fiction, complete with suspense, mystery and foolhardy guys in lab coats tipping test tubes of mysterious chemicals into their own mouths.”
 —NPR: What We're Reading
A fascinating Jazz Age tale of chemistry and detection, poison and murder, The Poisoner's Handbook is a page-turning account of a forgotten era. In early twentieth-century New York, poisons offered an easy path to the perfect crime. Science had no place in the Tammany Hall-controlled coroner's office, and corruption ran rampant. However, with the appointment of chief medical examiner Charles Norris in 1918, the poison game changed forever. Together with toxicologist Alexander Gettler, the duo set the justice system on fire with their trailblazing scientific detective work, triumphing over seemingly unbeatable odds to become the pioneers of forensic chemistry and the gatekeepers of justice.
In 2014, PBS's AMERICAN EXPERIENCE released a film based on The Poisoner's Handbook.

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The Poisoner's Handbook