The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York

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Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer Deborah Blum follows New York City's first forensic scientists to discover a fascinating Jazz Age story of chemistry and detection, poison and murder.

Deborah Blum, writing with the high style and skill for suspense that is characteristic of the very best mystery fiction, shares the untold story of how poison rocked Jazz Age New York City. In The Poisoner's Handbook Blum draws from highly original research to track the fascinating, perilous days when a pair of forensic scientists began their trailblazing chemical detective work, fighting to end an era when untraceable poisons offered an easy path to the perfect crime.

Drama unfolds case by case as the heroes of The Poisoner's Handbook—chief medical examiner Charles Norris and toxicologist Alexander Gettler—investigate a family mysteriously stricken bald, Barnum and Bailey's Famous Blue Man, factory workers with crumbling bones, a diner serving poisoned pies, and many others. Each case presents a deadly new puzzle and Norris and Gettler work with a creativity that rivals that of the most imaginative murderer, creating revolutionary experiments to tease out even the wiliest compounds from human tissue. Yet in the tricky game of toxins, even science can't always be trusted, as proven when one of Gettler's experiments erroneously sets free a suburban housewife later nicknamed "America's Lucretia Borgia" to continue her nefarious work.

From the vantage of Norris and Gettler's laboratory in the infamous Bellevue Hospital it becomes clear that killers aren't the only toxic threat to New Yorkers. Modern life has created a kind of poison playground, and danger lurks around every corner. Automobiles choke the city streets with carbon monoxide; potent compounds, such as morphine, can be found on store shelves in products ranging from pesticides to cosmetics. Prohibition incites a chemist's war between bootleggers and government chemists while in Gotham's crowded speakeasies each round of cocktails becomes a game of Russian roulette. Norris and Gettler triumph over seemingly unbeatable odds to become the pioneers of forensic chemistry and the gatekeepers of justice during a remarkably deadly time. A beguiling concoction that is equal parts true crime, twentieth-century history, and science thriller, The Poisoner's Handbook is a page-turning account of a forgotten New York.
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9781400195503
9781101524893
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Grouped Work ID1fd9bc6d-8513-23c3-15c6-10ae155d4789
Grouping Titlepoisoners handbook murder and the birth of forensic medicine in jazz age new york
Grouping Authordeborah blum
Grouping Categorybook
Grouping LanguageEnglish (eng)
Last Grouping Update2021-09-17 04:50:09AM
Last Indexed2021-09-17 05:16:12AM
Novelist Primary ISBN9781594202438

Solr Details

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auth_author2Marlo, Coleen,
Marlo, Coleen.
authorBlum, Deborah, 1954-
author2-roleMarlo, Coleen,narrator.
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author_displayDeborah Blum
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display_descriptionEqual 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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publishDate2010
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publisherPenguin Publishing Group
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subject_facetAudiobooks
Downloadable audiobooks
Forensic sciences
Forensic sciences -- New York (State) -- History
Forensic toxicology
Forensic toxicology -- New York (State) -- History
History
New York (N.Y.) -- History -- 20th century
New York (State)
Poisoning
Poisoning -- New York (State) -- History
True crime stories
title_displayThe Poisoner's Handbook Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York
title_fullThe Poisoner's Handbook Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York
The poisoner's handbook : murder and the birth of forensic medicine in Jazz Age New York [electronic resource] / Deborah Blum
The poisoner's handbook [eAudio] : murder and the birth of forensic medicine in Jazz Age New York / Deborah Blum
title_shortThe Poisoner's Handbook
title_subMurder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York
topic_facetForensic sciences
Forensic toxicology
History
Medical
Nonfiction
Poisoning
True crime stories