I enjoy this type of science book. It goes into the history of how and why and when different types of poisons became detectable by latoratory tests (think CSI). Stories of how some of the poisons were used prior to their being detectable are included. Fascinating for some background in how poisons have been used.
I found the content of this book riveting. First the history of medical examiners and the chemistry they worked with. Allmost more importantly the resistance by the government backed by big business to take steps that would have saved lives. The book absolutey whispers and shouts situations that correlate with issues that come up all too often today. The laying out of the contents of tobacco, the ingredients of cosmetics (think back to the not too distant past when mercury was discovered in lipsticks), and the general irresponsibly towards profit.Finally I found it interesting that the curiosity of human beings both destroys and saved lives. Fascinating.
I'm not sure I'd like to see this in movie form given film's propensity for over-the-top gore fests. The subtlety would be lost and the unsung heros still left unsung.
This was a very intriguing audiobook. I almost gave up on it because the narrator sounds like a bored school teacher going through the motions. However, the text itself is so interesting that after about the 4 hour mark the narrator's presentation no longer annoyed me. I will say I learned a lot from this book. Not just about the poisons and elements, but an astonishing amount of items about the prohibition era.
Great story, memorable characters. I don't usually read or listen to non-fiction, so the fact I found this a great listen is particularly notable. The chemistry details were very informative, but even more informative was the re-creation of a different world, one much more dangerous than the one we live in. With our modern preoccupation with "toxins", it was fascinating to hear how people lived (and died) in an age where real toxins were sold at every hardware and pharmacy. The narration seems a bit flat at the beginning, but is well-suited to this story.
Yes, I do recommend this history of the attempts to clean up the Forensic Medicine field that focuses on New York City and surrounding areas in the early 20th century, BUT the reader needed a good Director who would have told her, "Please, don't do accents like that..." Unfortunately, her first quote is an accented European voice that is just painful to listen to. Overall, she does fine for the majority of the narrative and the story/history flows fairly well. So don't let the opening voice in the audio clip put you off - it really does get better.
I disagree with the other reviewers and don't feel that the narrator did a poor job at all. I really enjoyed the book, it some how remains very light when covering such a dark topic.
I'm about 3/4s through.....The book is pretty good, the structure is interesting, but the narration! Otherwise, I'ld rate it higher.
Almost every character is a man, and the female narrator just sounds silly (though to be fair, some of the women she does are even worse). THE worst are the foreign accents...the corny stereotype accent of french accent, etc.
There was one, it's supposed to be british, but is more like the love-child of a cockney and an australian. At that point, I decided to enjoy it as camp. The book is interesting, but the author over does it on the adjectives and melodrama (instead of red, or crimson, it is a red the color of the red on the black widow spider, etc)
Note to the squeamish - some of the descriptions of the victims suffering, and the parts on experimentation on animals are hard to take.
A great depiction of forensic science at the time of the great depression, speakeasies, and Ginger Jake, this story highlights an era when we knew very little about chemistry, physiology, and toxicology as they intertwine in the human body. Charles Norris and Alexander Gettler, along with their team of scientists, work tirelessly to further our understanding in the field, setting the foundation and paving the way for modern-day scientists. Cyanide, arsenic, mercury, radon, and methyl alcohol are amongst the poisons discussed in this book utilizing various crimes as a stage.
Toxicology, like any science, is an ongoing study. Even with as much data we've collected on chemicals once thought to be safe, there are still compounds, new and old, that we have little to no research on their long-term effects. We hope our government, with its current laws and regulations, are able to keep us safe, but constant vigilance is a must especially when there are so many factors involved. Factors such as the lack of long-term research, the desire for monetary profits, or the desperate need for physical enhancements can contribute to detrimental health.
Narrator: Coleen Marlo
Stories like this requires a narrator that is neither too animated nor too dull because the contents of the tale is not heavily dialogue driven but more factual information being presented. Marlo was easy to listen too and she added some dramatization to the various individuals depicted in the novel which helped add variety and interest to the story.
I thought this would be heavy on the true crime side of things with lots and lots of fascinating clues and impressive deductions.
It was about 50% what I was hoping for and 50% a loving biography of the pathologist and the lab guy. Yes, they were interesting, and they sounded like sterling fellows, both of them, but it was not a thrilling listen. The organization of the book was a little strange as well.
It was ok, but I wouldn't recommend it.
I'm a 70 tear old retiree who is busier now than when working; the difference being I'm busy doing the things I really enjoy.
Didn't care for much...the story is detail-filled verbosity. It never reached any real degree of interest for me. The narrator's voice often became droning and uninteresting.