Using one potent aspect of the era, this author illustrates clearly how science changed the investigation of death from theater and theories to evidence and objectivity. The story especially illuminates Prohibition and its unexpected effects on society.
This is one of the absolute best audiobooks I've listened to. The writing is compelling, the stories told are fascinating, if a little creepy at times.
Probably Charles Norris, the dedicated physician and scientist.
Absolutely. Her writing is excellent, she is obviously well-versed in her subject matter.
It's hard to pick just one, I've been irritating friends for the last week by spouting interesting (in their words, "creepy") facts and anecdotes from this book. I was fascinated by the things people drank during prohibition - everything from Sterno to Ginger Jake (which caused an odd paralysis of the muscles, resulting in a distinctive toe-heel tapping gait known as Jake Leg).
First, I didn't mind the narrator.
Second, I found the first few chapters boring, but glad I stuck it out
Main point - I was fascinated by how much of a role prohibition played in the development of forensic medicine. I was interested to learn how the various distillations of underworld alcohol impacted forensic science at the time. The details of poisoning, both accidental and criminal via consumption of industrial alcohol is a little mentioned byproduct of that foolish chapter in American history. Like with today's drug war, the somewhat glamorous lives of underworld bosses make it to our consciousness, but the thousands?... hundreds of thousands..? Millions? of sad characters who suffered neurological devastation, painful, slow, physical destruction, and pathetic demise due to consumption of improperly distilled spirits is rarely addressed. There is a thorough analysis of the subject in the Poisoners Handbook, along with the impact of prohibition on the coroners offices, and science of forensic medicine.
I was also interested to learn how the government persisted in making the problem worse, even going so far to restrict industrial alcohols to those that would cause the most damage when consumed by humans, even though it was patently obvious that humans would end up consuming much of the product. I also learned what Jake-Leg is.
I think the book was worth the effort for what I learned about prohibition, and would recommend to those interested in US and political history, as well as those interested in the scientific content. Good character development as well.
It was fascinating to learn how much more toxic the world was in the early 20th century than it is now.
All of it! I thought at first the narrator was a computer-generated voice. She seemed to have little understanding of the content, and made many mistakes. I think the most glaring mistake was when she said one of the characters wrote a "one-letter sentence." It then became apparent that it should have been a "one-sentence letter." Does no one "proof listen" to audiobooks?
I found it very interesting, but it wasn't a particularly emotional book.
Re-record this book with a different narrator!
This was a great book. While the narration wasn’t super special it was adequate and the story was not only informative but interesting and held your attention well. I learned a lot I didn’t know about prohibition and the variety of poisons which were the murder weapon of choice during that era and about the efforts of the fledgling ME’s office to develop ways to identify these poisons. Definitely a great book and well worth the listen.
This is a history of an exotic topic. If you like to read this kind of thing to make yourself a more well rounded person, you'll enjoy it. If you have a medical background, it will be even more enjoyable as the medical details will not present a challenge.
This was a great history in an engaging format. The setting is prohibition era New York City and the cast of characters includes scientists, criminals, victims and the poisons themselves.
There are a number of speaking errors in this audiobook that really detract from the whole experience. For example, the person was "Princeton-educated and wealthy" not "Princeton, educated and wealthy". Another issue was the pronunciation of words, one was brazier (used for cooking with coals) pronounced as brasier (used for holding ...well, you know).
If you can get past the frequent errors, this is a captivating history of a profession that we now see on our TVs every time there is a crime scene.
I did not enjoy the reader.
Dr. Norris, in corroboration with his chemist, was an excellent scientist of death back in a time when DNA was a new discovery. Working without mass spec using laborious chemical reactions which were scorned by
No, I learned a lot. Wood alcohol became a default in prohibition and may have killed hundreds of people. I found it very interesting and tangential to
Yes...I browsed through the book, here I get a chance to dive into the topic more.
Linking some of the Murders ( by poisoning) in the story to one person.
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.