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Kathryn Harkup: A Is for Arsenic

Should come with several prescriptions / warning labels The first caveat, obviously, being “don’t ever try this at home.”  Most of the poisons Harkup discusses are much harder to obtain these days than in Agatha Christie’s time, so for most of them the risk of being used as a murder weapon may have been mitigated […]

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Kathryn Harkup: A Is for Arsenic — Chapters 10 & 11: Phosphorus & Ricin

Phosphorus and Ricin — two particularly nasty ones.  And the way she’s describing the discovery of phosphorus, it sounds like something straight out of a sorcerer’s lab … byproduct of the search for the philosophers’ stone.  Why stop at gold, anyway?!       Overall Review and Comments on Other Chapters: Overall Review Introduction and […]

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Kathryn Harkup: A Is for Arsenic — Chapters 7-9: Monkshood, Nicotine, Opium

What does it say that I read the opium chapter this night, after having woken up at 4:00AM (against all habit)? I can see the temptation in using Sad Cypress as the anchor book for this chapter, and I’m glad Harkup gave an unambiguous spoiler warning this time around before proceeding to give away the […]

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Kathryn Harkup: A Is for Arsenic — Chapter 6: Hemlock

Oh, FIE.  Major spoiler alert. In the “Hemlock” chapter, Harkup gives away — without any prior warning whatsoever — the identity of not one but two of the key suspects in Five Little Pigs who ultimately turn out to be innocent, and she also reveals the answer to the question that Poirot is chiefly asked […]

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Kathryn Harkup: A Is for Arsenic — Chapter 4: Digitalis

I just finished the digitalis chapter — a fairly fast read, since for once this was one dealing with stuff of which I had at least a working knowledge going in. Christie herself discusses some of the basics re: digitalis in Appointment with Death and some of her short stories (most notably, The Herb of […]

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Kathryn Harkup: A Is for Arsenic — Chapter 3: Cyanide

Harkup recounts the story how Rasputin’s enemies allegedly lured him to a lunch featuring “cake and [Madeira] wine … said to be laced with enough cynide to kill ‘a monastery’ of monks, but it left Rasputin unaffected.  He was then shot, at least twice, but was still alive and fighting back against his would-be assassins.  […]

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Kathryn Harkup: A Is for Arsenic — Introduction and Chapter 1: Arsenic

Oh man. I’m only a chapter (plus introduction) in, and I’m having all sorts of “mysteries read” flashbacks already — not only for Christie’s writings but also for those of other writers. E.g., those Styrian peasants get a really major nod towards the end of Dorothy L. Sayers’s Strong Poison, and the initial setup of […]

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My KYD Reads … or: Harry Potter, and What Else I read in March 2018

A big thank you to Moonlight Reader for yet another fun, inventive BookLikes game!  I had a wonderful time, while also advancing — though with decidedly fewer new reads than I’d origianlly been planning — my two main reading goals for this year (classic crime fiction and books written by women).   Harry Potter – […]

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Literature Reviews

Dennis McCarthy & June Schlueter: “A Brief Discourse of Rebellion and Rebels” by George North — A Newly Uncovered Manuscript Source for Shakespeare’s Plays

The lastest in Shakespearean research, a read inspired by conversations a visiting friend, and a February 7, 2018 New York Times article on a possible new source text for passages contained in no less than 11 of Shakespeare’s plays.  The story of the discovery itself is fascinating; the research methods applied are in synch with […]

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Literature Reviews

Werner Böcking: Von Köln zum Meer

Local history, a read inspired by conversations with a visiting friend on the history of shipping and travel by boat on the Rhine. — A richly illustrated book focusing chiefly on the 19th and 20th centuries, and the mid-19th-centuriy changes brought about by diesel engines and the resulting disappearance of sailing vessels (which, before the […]

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Ethel Lina White: The Lady Vanishes (aka The Wheel Spins) & The Spiral Staircase (aka Some Must Watch)

Well, I can see the appeal to movie directors … … but in written form, this isn’t really my cup of tea.  Which isn’t necessarily the fault of White’s writing is such — she has a fine eye (and ear) for characterization and language — but rather, of her chosen topic.  I’ve never been much […]

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Literature Reviews

Robin Whiteman & Rob Talbot: Brother Cadfael’s Herb Garden / Robin Whiteman: The Cadfael Companion

Shared five-star honors for two simply gorgeously illustrated coffee table books full of facts and knowledge about medieval monastery life (Benedictine and otherwise), the healing arts of the medieval monks, and the plants they used.  Must-reads not only for fans of Ellis Peters’s Brother Cadfael series but for anyone interested in the Middle Ages, monastic […]

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Stratford-upon-Avon — Oxford — London: Shakespeare, Hogwarts and Shopping

Stratford A Scene at the RSC Book and Gift Shop The date: June 17, 2017. The time: Approximately 10:00AM. TA and friend enter; TA asks for a shopping basket and makes straight for the shelves and display cases. An indeterminate amount of time is then spent browsing. Whenever her friend points out something and asks […]

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Literature Reviews

Mordecai Siegal, James R. Richards (eds.), et al.: The Cornell Book of Cats

Indispensable “A cat is only technically an animal, being divine.” – Robert Lynd. “The twenty-first century may be the century of the cat,” says Franklin M. Loew, former Dean of Cornell University’s renowned College of Veterinary Medicine in this book’s preface, citing statistics according to which even at the end of the 20th century, the […]

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