Friday, 2 July 2010

Poisons and Poisoning


One of the unexpected pleasures of the CWA conference at Abergavenny was a talk by a writer I hadn’t heard of before, called Celia Kellett. Her subject was Poison and Poisoning, which just happens to be the title of a book she published recently on the subject.

Maybe it’s my fondness for Christie, maybe it’s my interest in the Crippen case, but I have a weakness for mysteries featuring poisons, and I did find Celia Kellett’s talk fascinating. Unfortunately, she didn’t have many copies of her book for sale, and they’d all been snapped up by the time I reached the end of the queue. But I’ve now bought a copy for myself, and it’s certainly a book packed with information (published, by the way, by an enterprising Welsh firm, Accent Press.)

We tend to think of mystery stories featuring poisoning as slightly old-fashioned, perhaps because of all those cases of demure-seeming Victorian ladies doing away with their husbands with different kinds of poison. As I’ve said before, the Liverpool case of the Maybricks is one of my favourite true crime stories, and of course it features here.

But Kellett also makes it clear that there is plenty of potential in the modern world for murder by poison. As she says: ‘poisons are everywhere’, and ‘prisons worldwide still hold many murderers who used poison as their deadly weapon.’ This is a very useful reference book, and I expect to dip into it often in the future. And, who knows, it may tempt me into writing a poisoning mystery of my own one of these fine days....

5 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Martin - There are quite a lot of crime fiction novels that feature poisons and poisoning. When I read your post, I thought of Elizabeth George's Missing Josepth, and there are lots more. If you consider deliberate exposure to an allergen (resulting in anaphylaxis) poisoning, I've used that plot myself...

Deb said...

There was a case here in the States not too long ago in which a wife was found guilty of murdering her husband by putting antifreeze in his drinks. At first, the death certificate stated he died from something else, but suspicious family members asked for the body to be exhumed and tested. This became an episode of one of those true-crime forensic files shows.

Martin Edwards said...

Hi Margot - I haven't read Missing Joseph. Is it good? I've had a mixed experience with Elizabeth George books - some great, some perhaps less so.

Martin Edwards said...

Hi Deb. Fascinating story!

Dorte H said...

I wish she would! I share your taste for poison, and a Martin Edwards with poison in it ...!

Re Missing Joseph I think it is one of the better George novels.