The second book I finished this year is A Taste for Poison: Eleven Deadly Molecules and the Killers Who Used them by Neil Bradbury, Ph.D.
I am an avid true crime fan so when this book crossed my desk at the library I work at, I immediately checked it out eager to learn about the chemicals and minerals that have been used to poisons in both fiction and real life. Bradbury breaks the book into two sections.
The first section focuses on biomolecules including: insulin, atropine, strychnine, aconite, ricin, digoxin, and cyanide. The second section discusses molecules from the earth such as: potassium, polonium, arsenic, and chlorine. Many of these will be familiar to those that read murder mysteries, are interested in true crime, or have an interest in history. While most readers likely have some knowledge of some of these poisons, especially arsenic and cyanide, I found it especially interesting that Bradbury was able to find some stories of how these have killed that I, and other readers, haven’t necessarily heard about, and then going into detail about how the molecule goes about bringing and end to its victims.
Another thing I enjoyed about the book was the positioning of an historical story of how a poison was used, and partnering that with a much more recent story of the poison. I think a lot of people might be surprised about people trying to get away with murders in the 2010s using the same methods as those in the 1800s, with much less success.
Poison as therapy was another section of many of the chapters that I enjoyed. I was fascinated to learn about how many of the poisons being discussed also can serve as medicine. One may think, sure it was used as a medicine before we knew better in modern times, but I was surprised to learn that several are still used today even.
Honestly, I could keep gushing about little things about this book that I enjoyed, but it would probably be easier for you to just go out and find yourself a copy to read.
What do you think about the molecules in this book? Are you surprised people still try to get away with murder with these poisons?