A TASTE FOR POISON By Neil Bradbury @HarperCollinsUK #ATasteForPoison #BookReview #Bookblogger

Available from the 20th January 2022 / Hardback / ebook / audiobook /


As any reader of murder mysteries can tell you, poison is one of the most enduring — and popular — weapons of choice for a scheming murderer. It can be slipped into a drink, smeared onto the tip of an arrow or the handle of a door, even filtered through the air we breathe. But how exactly do these poisons work to break our bodies down, and what can we learn from the damage they inflict?

In a fascinating blend of popular science, medical history, and narrative crime nonfiction, Dr Neil Bradbury explores this most morbidly captivating method of murder from a cellular level. Alongside real-life accounts of murderers and their crimes —some notorious, some forgotten, some still unsolved — are the equally compelling stories of the poisons involved: eleven molecules of death that work their way through the human body and, paradoxically, illuminate the way in which our bodies function.

Drawn from historical records and current news headlines, A Taste for Poison weaves together the fascinating tales of spurned lovers, shady scientists, medical professionals and political assassins, showing how the precise systems of the body can be impaired to lethal effect through the use of poison. From the deadly origins of the gin & tonic cocktail to the arsenic-laced wallpaper in Napoleon’s bedroom, A Taste for Poison leads readers on a fascinating tour of the intricate, complex systems that keep us alive — or don’t.


If you are into true crime, or want to know a little more about poisons and previous cases where different poisons have been used then this is a read for you. It was really interesting to learn some of the engaging information. Throughout there are eleven well known chemicals, the author goes into each one. Aconite, arsenic, atropine, chlorine, cyanide, digoxin, insulin, polonium, potassium, ricin and strychnine.

As each poison is mentioned the book then goes into the biochemistry and what each poison does in the body and how it causes harm, despite this being deeply scientific it is explained a way that is easy to understand. But then there is also references to cases where each of these poisons have been used, several high profile criminal cases, then how forensic science was able to identify each poison. Years ago poison was a popular way of committing murder, because it was difficult to trace. With scientific advances poisons are easier to detect.

The author didn’t stop there as he also went into how some of these poisons are used for health, for instance insulin is used for diabetes, but used wrongly it can kill. Digoxin for heart conditions. Then you also learn where each poison can be found some are from plants, soil, rocks as well as other naturally occurring substances. I knew where some of these poisons came from but others I had no idea until reading this.

But then of course there’s the administration of the poison, there are four different paths, ingestion where it’s in food or drink, respiration where it’s inhaled, absorption through the skin, and of course injection where it’s shot into a muscle or blood vessel. Different poisons attack different parts of the body, could affect the nervous system, organ failure, paralyse muscles, break down cells. Depending on dosage any one of them can be fatal.

Being an ex nurse I knew of some of these poisons but as medication. The whole way this book was laid out was really interesting as well as informative. Written in a way it was easy to read and understand. Could be a good reference book if you are thinking of writing a book where poison is used. But equally engaging if you are just fascinated with people who have poisoned.

I would like to thank @HarperCollins for an ARC of this book I found it absolutely fascinating.


Neil Bradbury grew up fascinated with murder mysteries and poisons. He is a graduate of the University of St Andrews in Scotland, and the University of Wales School of Medicine, with degrees in Biochemistry and Medical Biochemistry. Although he grew up in the UK, he now lives and works in Illinois, USA, where he’s a scientist, teacher and writer. He also gets to play with nasty chemicals every day (during scientific experiments of course). His first book A Taste for Poison will appeal to true-crime fans, sciencey types, and history buffs. Everyone should know exactly who is pouring their cup of tea!

Follow Neil at http://www.neilbradbury.org

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