What I’m Reading: The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York by Deborah Blum

The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York by Deborah Blum

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† Available from the LA Public Library


This is one of my favorite types of books — a micro-history where the specialized topic reveals the surrounding macro-history of its time.

Here I learned about various poisons, their effects, and their detection as well as the history of the New York Medical Examiners office that led to so many forensic discoveries, methods, and applied applications. I also learned about some important crimes cases that brought about these changes to promote justice throughout the city.

The tale is told through the lives and works of Charles Norris and Alexander Gettler who created the Examiner’s Office out of whole cloth and made it their life’s work.
Dive into the dark underbelly of Jazz Age New York and learn some history at the same time. This is an amazing book that pulls you in and pulls you through it page after page.


from Amazon.com…

A fascinating Jazz Age tale of chemistry and detection, poison and murder, The Poisoner’s Handbook is a page-turning account of a forgotten era. In early twentieth-century New York, poisons offered an easy path to the perfect crime. Science had no place in the Tammany Hall-controlled coroner’s office, and corruption ran rampant. However, with the appointment of chief medical examiner Charles Norris in 1918, the poison game changed forever. Together with toxicologist Alexander Gettler, the duo set the justice system on fire with their trailblazing scientific detective work, triumphing over seemingly unbeatable odds to become the pioneers of forensic chemistry and the gatekeepers of justice.

You can read this book — and many others — as I did, at my local public library. My edition was the Kindle version downloaded for free from the LA Public Library. Services such as this make reading easier than ever. Check it out out your local library today!

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