Agatha Christie's detailed plotting is what makes her books so compelling. Christie used poison to kill her characters more often than any other murder method, with the poison itself being a central part of the novel, and her choice of deadly substances was far from random; the chemical and physiological characteristics of each poison provide vital clues to the discovery of the murderer. With gunshots or stabbings the cause of death is obvious, but not so with poisons. How is it that some compounds prove so deadly and in such tiny amounts?
Christie demonstrated her extensive chemical knowledge (much of it gleaned from her working in a chemists during both world wars) in many of her novels, but this is rarely appreciated by the reader. A is for Arsenic celebrates the use of science in Christie's work. Written by Christie fan and research chemist Kathryn Harkup, each chapter takes a different novel and investigates the poison (or poisons) the murderer used. A is for Arsenic looks at why certain chemicals kill, how they interact with the body, and the feasibility of obtaining, administering and detecting these poisons both at the time the novel was written and today. This book is published as part of the 125th anniversary celebration of Christie's birth.
This was actually pretty interesting, however, it did drag a bit in some of the more technical parts. Overall though I would recommend it...especially to Christie fans.
Would you consider the audio edition of A Is for Arsenic to be better than the print version?
Probably the audio, I really enjoyed the audio version and I have listen to it more than once. I think this would be a book that I would like to own both in audio and print.
Who was your favorite character and why?
No characters as this is a nonfiction book. I am a huge Agatha Christie fan and I absolutely loved this book. To get facts about Agatha, her murderers and the poisons all in one place is wonderful !
What about Beth Chalmers’s performance did you like?
Her accent was great. This is the first time I have listened to her work and I would be happy to listen to her again.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
Yes, I hated to stop when I had to take a break.
What made the experience of listening to A Is for Arsenic the most enjoyable?
Beth Chalmers was an ideal narrator, capturing the Britishness of the book and dealing well with the technical detail.
What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?
The book talks about several poisons as they were discovered, used in historical poisonings, and their effects on the body. Each chapter also gives an overview of the way each poison was used in an Agatha Christie book. I have read many of Christie's works, and I found the recap sections both tedious and unnecessary,
Any additional comments?
This is a little tough as an audio book, since the author goes into quite technical descriptions of nerve receptors, molecule shapes, and the functioning of body cells. I found myself losing the thread fairly often in these parts as I listened in the car.
If you could sum up A is for Arsenic in three words, what would they be?
What was one of the most memorable moments of A is for Arsenic?
Her description and the way Agatha Christie used her experience.
Have you listened to any of Beth Chalmers’s other performances? How does this one compare?
No, not yet but intend to.
Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
Makes you think
Any additional comments?
Thoroughly enjoyed, did not think I would have. Bought it because of Agatha Christie.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
A really interesting listen. And educational too. Narrator did a great job. Off to find more books read by her and more by the author too!
It was spoiled by the narrator sounded far too young and good humoured for the subject matter. A better choice would have been Patience Tomlinson or Anna Massey.
Interesting premise, but somehow ended up sounding like 5hr homework assignment. Maybe it's the combination of the book and school mistress like narration style. Found it hard to listen.
0 of 1 people found this review helpful