BOOK REVIEW: A Taste for Poison: Eleven Deadly Molecules and the Killers Who Used Them by Neil Bradbury, Ph.D.

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?

Happy Reading!

BOOK REVIEW: Chase Darkness With Me: How One True-Crime Writer Started Solving Murders by Billy Jensen

This review is going to take a look at Billy Jensen’s new book: Chase Darkness With Me: How One True-Crime Writer Started Solving Murders. It was released on August 13, 2019 so it is still relatively new. I was lucky enough to purchase an autographed copy from the Poisoned Pen!

I am a somewhat new listener of the My Favorite Murder Podcast hosted by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, and have been binging episodes pretty much everyday. While listening to My Favorite Murder, I learned about the rest of the podcasts on the Exactly Right Network, and have been a proud listener of Jensen & Holes: The Murder Squad since the beginning of the show.

For those of you not familiar with the Murder Squad podcast, it is a true-crime podcast hosted by Billy Jensen, who is a crime reporter and the author of the book covered in this review, and Paul Holes a retired homicide detective who helped solve the Golden State Killer (GSK) murder case. The premise of the podcast is in line with what Jensen has written in Chase Darkness With Me in that they both aim to put the general public to work to help solve cold cases, whether they are murder cases, missing person cases, or something else.

Obviously, for the sake of time they can’t go into too many details on the podcast to instruct listeners how they can help the cause. That is what this book does. It covers some of Jensen’s white whale cases from his career, and how he has worked diligently over social media to help get tips on these cases and more. He goes into depth on how the civilian citizens can help do the same.

One of his white whale cases, known as the Allenstown Four, happened in my home state and I was immediately interested when I heard them cover it on the podcast. I had never heard of the crime before, but since I listened to the podcast I have heard it referred to more and more. And for good reason! Three of the four victims have since been identified by a librarian. It was fascinating to learn more about the Allenstown Four while reading Jensen’s new book.

It was touching to learn about how his relationship with his father trained him to spot crimes, and how he followed up on posting the social media campaigns related to these cases after the death of his close friend Michelle McNamara.

I highly suggest everyone go out and pick up a copy of Chase Darkness With Me by Billy Jensen. It was an excellent read, and really meaningful to connect with readers that can help solve some of these crimes in the future. Also, take a few minutes and check out their website to learn more about some of the cases they are working on and how you can help: The Murder Squad.

Instead of my usual sign off, I’ll use Billy’s–“Don’t be an irony”