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Dick TeresiEmsley mines what he calls ''the darker side of the periodic table'' with consummate skill, dealing out Mendeleyev's playing cards with the verve of an Amarillo Slim.
— The New York Times
"A fascinating anecdotal history of killing by five elements—mercury, arsenic, antimony, lead and thalium.... With something of interest on almost every page, it combines the satisfactions of a detective story, intriguing snippets of history, popular science, unsolved mysteries and murder. A powerful brew." —P. D. James, Sunday Telegraph
"Emsley captures the creepy common ground of science and homicide.... Beyond the scandals and celebrities, what makes 'The Elements of Murder' such a charming read is the absurdity of its anecdotes.... Hitchcock could make many films from this book."—Brenn Jones, San Francisco Chronicle
"Fascinating, wide-ranging and, let's not mince words, macabre new history of poison.... A truly guilty pleasure."—Wall Street Journal
"The list of the famous who may have been poisoned by one of these devious toxins is a long one, from Pope Clement II to Mozart. Emsley has dug up the dirt on these and a rogue's gallery of lesser-known cases.... If the golden age of poisoning is gone (replaced, to be sure, by other forms of mayhem), in Emsley's book it's still very much alive."—Laurence A. Marschall, Natural History
"Emsley retells enough juicy and lurid (and sometimes famous) stories of murder by poison to enthrall both true-crime fans and budding mystery writers.... The author certainly knows his stuff."—Booklist
"Emsley hits a bull's eye in this fascinating, wonderfully readable forensic history of five deadly chemicals (mercury, arsenic, antimony, lead and thallium) and their starring role in that most intoxicating drama of pure evil: murder. A deeply knowledgeable chemist with a gift for making accessible the dry and bewilderingly arcane, Emsley's at his best in case studies of infamous poisoners and their victims."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"I heartily recommend that this book be read and added to the library of every chemist, toxicologist, and avid crime fiction reader, wherever they may be around the world. This book is an absolute delight and, for the price, a bargain to boot."—Chemical and Engineering News
"Both as a natural history of poisons and as a near-encyclopedic who-used-what-how reference, the book fascinates. The glossary and bibliography are most helpful. So dangerous is the world that many readers will choose to stay home, working on that special sauce for mother-in-laws meat loaf."—Foreword Magazine
"This absorbing volume is equal parts chemistry, history and mystery, but you don't need to be a scientist, historian or murderer to appreciate all three facets."—BookPage (Beach Reading Selection)
1. Deadly elements
2. The history and the chemistry
3. One man's medicine is another man's murder weapon
4. Arsenic and adultery
5. Off the wall poison
6. Insidious antimony
7. Requiem for a metal
8. Deadly lead
9. When the Empire struck lead
10. Mercury in the Tower
11. Mad cats and mad hatters
12. Young and deadly
13. Driving you hairless
Posted October 19, 2013
This is a good read with many wonderful anecdotes that illustrate the concepts of metal toxicity. The book obviously does not illustrate the more complex concepts beyond a surface level treatment. As a professor for introductory chemistry it is very useful for colorful stories.
Now for the but... in various places the book truncates the end of a paragraph. It took me a while to figure out that the truncated section is in the text of a previous footnote. Annoying, but workable. If it had been formatted right I would have given it 4/5.
Posted July 18, 2009
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Ever wondered why hatters go mad? Or why arsenic is often administered in hot tea? This book will tell you, along with many more gripping facts about poison. It is an absorbing, well-written history of poison, including its more famous practitioners, like Agrippina, Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia, and the mother and daughter duo who practiced in Renaissance Rome with a deadly arsenic mixture called "Aqua Toffana," thought to have killed over five-hundred unlucky husbands. The author is a scientist who combines history, chemistry and crime with his encyclopedic understanding of poison. It contains a wealth of reference, including an impressive glossary, a bibliography sub-headed by poisons, and a thorough index. A scholarly work written for the rest of us.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 25, 2008
A potpourri of Cold Case files and a poison primer. Spunky, sprightly fun writing and a handy reference for the mystery writer who needs to kill off a character or two. Delightful and informative.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 6, 2010
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