Poison: A Handbook for Writers cover

Poison: A Handbook for Writers

Chemist and mystery writer Dr. David Ciambrone has brought his knowledge of poisons to mystery writers. This book is targeted for mystery writers as a reference and guide to poisons that the average criminal or person could obtain and not leave a trail back to him or her. The book uses terminology that is understandable to the general public and not a general medical type reference book.

Read an excerpt.

Writers love poisons.

They really do. In fact they love them a great deal. Guns are noisy and messy. Knives are hard to use and bring the killer to close to the victim. Most don?t have the fortitude for strangling and bludgeoning. But, a poison? Simply slip a bit into food or drink and walk away. No fuss, no muss. Poisons are simple and clean. Almost civilized!

But, what exactly is a poison? The short answer is anything and everything. There is an adage in medicine that says: What can cure; can kill. This is a very true statement. Too much water and you'll die. Breathing 100% oxygen will destroy your lungs...and you'll die. Take too much aspirin and you'll die. The basic difference between a medicine and a poison is the dose! A couple of aspirin will cure a headache. A handful will knock your system sideways. You'll develop severe acidosis and die. A proper dose of digitalis can strengthen the heart and keep its rhythm regular. A lot will cause the heart to jump into a chaotic and deadly rhythm. So medications can be poisonous!

The opposite is also true. A poison in small doses does little harm. We all have low levels of lead and arsenic and even cyanide in our systems. In larger amounts, each of these is extremely deadly!

So, where do writers find the poisons they use in their tales? The medicine cabinet would be a good place to look. Or under the sink. A pharmacy or chemical supply house would work, too. But, the best place just might be your back yard or your local nursery.! The world is filled with toxic plants. The medicines digitalis, quinidine, and belladonna come from the Foxglove, the Cinchona Tree, and the Deadly Nightshade, respectively. Opium and its cousins morphine and codeine and heroin come from the Opium Poppy. So, the plant world is filled with writerly possibilities!

Where can writers learn about all these household and backyard poisons? Enter Dr. David Ciambrone and his Book of Poisons. In this remarkable book he shares his extensive knowledge on all things toxic in a clear and concise format. The writer can easily choose the poison that fits his plot needs and learn all he needs to know about how the poison works and how it affects the unfortunate victim! If you write crime fiction, you need this book. It will not only supply you with a vast range of knowledge, it will also tickle that little part of your creative mind that asks: What if? And that's where the story starts!!

D. P. Lyle, MD
Award-winning author of Forensics For Dummies and Forensics and Fiction

Taliesin Publishing
ISBN 978-1-962916-006-1