Halloween is right around the corner, so it seems more than appropriate that I share this book with you. The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York is an intriguing book that weaves poison, murder, chemistry and detection into an on-the-edge-of-your-seat read. How did I come upon this book? A friend remembered that I have a degree in biology, read Science News Magazine and that my favorite college course was Human Parasitology. It’s a bit macabre I know. Plus she said the author, Deborah Blum, studied science writing here at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and received her master’s in environmental journalism. Each chapter unveils a different poison, including methyl alcohol, arsenic, chloroform, carbon monoxide and many more. In pursuit of justice and science are Chief Medical Examiner Charles Norris and toxicologist Alexander Gettler. They not only document the telltale signs of poisoning in the early half of the 20th century, but they become pioneers of forensic chemistry. What fascinated me the most was their ability to invent tests to identify specific poisons. Remember this was long before DNA samples. These tests were time-intensive and required a lot of tissue samples. So if you like Sherlock Holmes stories or the TV show Bones, then you’ll love this book. It’s a great read!