a beautiful poison

Beautifully written, expertly researched and a pleasure to read. This was one of those unputdownable books where you end up finishing it at 2:43 am and think ‘Ok now what am I supposed to do?’ Sleep is clearly out of the question…

Although I rarely do so, I read the Authors Note at the end of the text and I am glad I did so as it is so informative. Many things I never knew about, such as devastation caused by The Great Influenza and the incredible Radium Girls who, through their lawsuit against the US Radium Corporation paved the way for modern labour safety regulations in the United States. Chemistry also came alive for me during the course of this book and my knowledge of poisons has definitely increased.

Of course, the biggest question I am asking myself after this book is:

What’s my favourite molecule?

For me, since I could decide between tea and coffee I have settled on:

10 2

It is the one thing that is in both… Caffeine! Credit to explain this goes to Chemistry Explained but there is also a very interesting breakdown of the chemistry of tea here and coffee here.

Blurb for the book is below:

Just beyond the Gilded Age, in the mist-covered streets of New York, the deadly Spanish influenza ripples through the city. But with so many victims in her close circle, young socialite Allene questions if the flu is really to blame. All appear to have been poisoned—and every death was accompanied by a mysterious note.

Desperate for answers and dreading her own engagement to a wealthy gentleman, Allene returns to her passion for scientific discovery and recruits her long-lost friends, Jasper and Birdie, for help. The investigation brings her closer to Jasper, an apprentice medical examiner at Bellevue Hospital who still holds her heart, and offers the delicate Birdie a last-ditch chance to find a safe haven before her fragile health fails.


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