I needed a good writer’s reference book to help me figure out how to kill off characters so that they will become ghosts and tell the clairvoyant exactly how they died, symptoms and all. I bought this book to add to my growing collection of reference books.
About the Authors
Serita Stevens is a registered nurse who specializes in forensics. She is the author of The Forensic Nurse. Anne Louise Bannon is a freelance journalist. Her articles have appeared in Emergency Physicians Monthly and other publications.
Howdunit Book of Poisons serves as a catalog of the different known poisons. The guide is divided into sections. The book starts with the Introduction, followed by the chapters, appendixes, bibliography, glossary, and index. Below is a partial list of the chapters contained inside this book.
Chapter 1: A Short History of the Dreaded Art
Chapter 2: A Day in the Life of a Criminal Toxicologist
Chapter 3: The Classic Poisons: Aresenic, Cynanide, and Strychnine
Chapter 4: Household Poisons
Chapter 5: Poisonous Plants
Chapter 6: Fragile Fungi
The poisonous plants entries are listed in the following format: common name, scientific name, other, toxicity, deadly parts, effects and symptoms, reaction time, antidotes and treatments, and notes.
The household poisons are listed in the following format: common name, other, toxicity, form, effects and symptoms, reaction time, antidotes and treatments, and notes.
Each chapter begins with a short introduction, followed by the listings.
I love the way this book is designed. The chapter headers are easy to find because of the wide band of black that surrounds the white text of the chapter’s title. The only thing I don’t like is the size of the text. It is too small. Other than that, I like this book on several levels.
The appendixes are my favorite because they give very specific information at a glance. For instance, Prolixin and Thorazine keeps the victim from coughing. Nitroglycerine comes in an aerosol spray. I had no idea that too much nutmeg can cause psychosis. Neither did I know that cooking rhubarb leaves could cause a variety of very unpleasant things to happen to a person.
I found all the appendixes worth reading through. The best ones are Appendix D, which lists the reaction times of the different types of poisons and Appendix E, which lists the toxicity rating. Level 1 is the lowest toxicity rating, while Level 6 is the highest.
My favorite chapter is Chapter 14, which explains how to create your own poison to kill off your characters. I also enjoyed the case histories that were scattered through the book, summarizing how a particular poison was used in literature.
Howdunit Book of Poisons: A Guide for Writers is an indispensable guide for writers of a variety of genres. It will not only help you pick the best poison to kill or maim your characters, but it will give you accurate symptoms of the effects that this poison could have on him or her.