“Very unusual premise. A book to remember. Never knew the significance of poisons and the development of forensic science in American history.”Nancy wrote this review Wednesday, July 27, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I learned a lot from this”Phil L wrote this review Saturday, July 16, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I'm on the fence between liking and disliking this book. It was quite interesting to learn about NYC and the beginning of the medical examiner's office as well as about the different poisons and how people were dying, etc. On the other hand, I found it quite dry in parts and it was a struggle to get through. I felt that the beginning and end were interesting, but that the middle lagged a bit. If you enjoy non-fiction and history and don't mind a lot of science mixed in, then you will probably enjoy this book.”Azuree wrote this review Friday, July 8, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“HANDBOOK”Kelly Gray wrote this review Wednesday, June 29, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Very interesting study of NYC's influence on the study of poison and forensics.
Missed a 5th star because of a few stumbles in the reading (I believe the mu microgram symbol was misread as milligrams a few times) and a sometimes repetitive nature (how much can you say about methyl alcohol, anyways?).”
“Barbara M said: 5 stars
Fascinating book although I almost wanted to put a plain brown wrapper on it when I took it outside of my own house. I went to a Dr. appt. the first time and realized that I'd better put the book face down to hide this title! When I got to the end, I got a real charge out of Blum's own comment "There are mornings, lit by the cold winter light, when I start talking about a poison in my book, revealing my own dangerous expertise, and as I do, I watch my husband quietly, not really thinking about it, slide his cup out of my reach." LOL! One weekend, I was responsible to bring the main meat dish to our pot luck and hoped no one had seen the title of my book!
The book is really about two excellent scientists who were, in effect, the fathers of forensic science Charles Norris and Alexander Gettler. Blum does an excellent job making each chapter about a particular poison and still moving the book forward in a chronological order. Much of the book is set during prohibition and has to do with ethyl and methyl alcohol and the poisoning that killed so many during that time of speakeasies and bathtub gin. There was "illuminating gas" and how many of those deaths were accidental or murder.
I'm likely to read mysteries set in an historical time with some different insight after reading this. Those days so different from the shows on TV based on forensic science, it is neat to know the background. Another super quote: "If I have seen farther, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants" - Sir Isaac Newton. Those giants in forensic science are humanized in this book.”
“Wonderful insight into the two men most responsible for Forensic Science as we know it. Charles Norris and Alexander Gettler held posts in the Coroner's Office in New York during the days of Tammany Hall, Prohibition, gas light (illuminating gas), bootleggers lots of unexplained deaths. Blum is an excellent writer and she arranged the book by a particular poison but still moved it forward in chronological order. How amazing to see this "birth of forensic medicine" with so many of the TV shows including forensic science in the solving of many crimes. It wasn't even accepted when Norris and Gettler bagan their work. This is a superb background for lovers of historical mystery . . . and any other mystery for that matter!”Barbara M wrote this review Tuesday, May 31, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Well-written, with both diligent scholarship and humor, this is a good look at the birth of criminal forensics. ”Matthew D wrote this review Sunday, May 1, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Very informative”Jeanie S wrote this review Saturday, April 23, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“If you ever wanted to know everything about how every poison affects the bodies...dead and alive...this book is for you. It is clinical but interesting. Mostly about the 20's and 30's and the birth of toxicology as a science.”Diane Benson wrote this review Wednesday, April 20, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No