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

St. Martin’s. Oct. 2021. 304p. ISBN 9781250270757. $27.99. CRIME
Debut author Bradbury (physiology and biophysics, Rosalind Franklin Univ. of Medicine and Science) takes readers on a frightening romp through killer chemicals, from chlorine gas, to ricin, to the poisoner’s standard: cyanide. In each chapter, he discusses how a different lethal agent was developed, refined, or weaponized, and includes an example of death by that poison; for instance, in 2008, Lakhvir Kaur Singh, an Indian immigrant to the UK, poisoned her lover with aconite when he started a new relationship. Bradbury’s thorough yet understandable explanations outline, in jargon-free language, how each poison makes its way through the body and eventually kills. He also sneaks in relevant histories of medicine, such as the late 19th-century understanding of the nervous system. His accounts are fascinating, edifying, and terrifying.
VERDICT This absorbing volume about murderers’ use of poison will appeal to true crime lovers and fans of popular science in the vein of Mary Roach.
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