This book is excellent. The name is unfortunate because people who should read this and would find it excellent (most people) will pass it up because of the title. if you have an interest in medicine, how the medical communities work and how poor government affect every person, you should read this book.
I read science, biographies, histories, mysteries, adventures, thrillers, educationals, linguistics but not no way, not no how, romances.
A mix of historic narrative, scientific examination, personal narrative, and crime intrigue, this book encapsulates everything we love about reading. It follows the careers of two men who created the office and techniques of the modern medical examiner. Like all great historical novels we see how they reform a whole practice with no money, no political backing, and endless work on their tables.
More than that, though, this is a book about how their scientific techniques evolved over the twenties in New York. Peppered with incredible stories of poison, gas leaks, murder, and accidents there is always something more and something fun to hear in this book. The pace is good, the narration is solid, and the promise of something shocking will keep you sitting in your car, listening, long after you arrived at your destination.
Writer, Reader, Former Bookseller (RIP Borders)
It is a volume of fun, useful, cleverly told, fascinating information that is useful, if for nothing else, at making me look smart at social gatherings. Honestly, it is one of those books that I wish I could force on people "hey, you, read this! Right now!".
What you want to know is whether it is worth the credit and can you tolerate the narration. The answer is an emphatic YES to both. I enjoyed the perfectly paired narrator's presentation of the gruesomely enthralling subject matter, and I'm sure you will too!
I found this book compelling. Part murder mystery, part history, and a great lead-in to the PBS Prohibition series. For all who love the "police procedural" as a genre, this is how it started. All those procedures we take for granted in a 21st century police/forensic department were started by motivated honest people who had to fight "city hall" to do the right thing. And all this is just the context for the science and real life implications of poisons (intentional or not) on the human body. I would have listened to this book at twice the length and still wanted more.
I enjoyed this book immensely! The title is a bit misleading as each chapter is about a particular poison, (radium, arsenic, methyl and ethyl alcohol, etc.), and there is no continuous mystery involved. However, even as a mostly mystery fiction reader/listener, I found it fascinating!
I love to read, fly and play tennis. I always have a book and an audible book going at the same time. I'm a mystery/thriller junky.
I enjoyed this and learned a lot of interesting and unusual facts. It's not fiction but kind of written more like a novel then nonfiction so it keeps your interest. If you like murder mysteries this has a lot of that in it, but they're real stories. There were long periods of detailed information, then how that information was discovered, used in a murder, used in the trial of that murder, or used in everyday life. It told the basic story of 2 men, the history of forensic medicine and coroners offices, and a lot about prohibition (18th Amendment) that I never knew. The reader did a good job; maybe not so good with different voices but that didn't bother me at all since most of the book is narration and characters don't actually speak that often.
This was a very compelling book that I found hard to put down (or press the pause button). The author did an incredible job of interlacing true murder stories, the prohibition era and its effects, the discovery of new elements and chemicals in industry and their effects on workers, and the emergence and evolution of forensic medicine to deal with it all. I was absolutely fascinated and sometimes shocked by what I learned about the history of the science of forensics. I almost didn't get this book because of what some reviewers said about the narrator, but I didn't hear what they heard - I found her voice pleasing and thought she did fine. I am so glad I got this one. Loved it!
I'm going to listen to this again! very informative & educational. learned much keeps your interest. you really want more!
A published novelist and technical writer, who lives in Northern California with a cranky but loveable parrot and lots of books.
I bought this book on impulse during one of Audible's $4.95 sales, and boy am I glad I did! This book is a fascinating tour through a number of murder cases and investigations in New York between 1890 and 1930, touching on social history, chemistry, and the evolution of criminology and forensic science. The story is as much about the struggle of the NYC coroner to re-establish the reputation of his dept. after a series of inept Tammany Hall political appointees bungled their ways through various poisoning cases, as about the development of the science of detecting whether someone's been poisoned or died of natural causes. It's a great listen--interesting material and anecdotes, well-told, that paint a vivid picture of life during the Industrial Age, when foods, over-the-counter medicines, furnishings, clothing, and workplaces were commonly laced with poisons like arsenic and mercury, and when hundreds of people a year died of accidental poisonings before the Pure Food and Drug Act and various occupational safety laws came into effect. Very enjoyable, and I'm definitely going to look and see what else this author has written. So, if you're in the mood for a historical CSI-type book, I highly recommend this one!