Molecules of Murder: Criminal Molecules and Classic Cases

Front Cover
Royal Society of Chemistry, 2008 - Medical - 252 pages
Molecules of Murder is about infamous murderers and famous victims; about people like Harold Shipman, Alexander Litvinenko, Adelaide Bartlett, and Georgi Markov. Few books on poisons analyse these crimes from the viewpoint of the poison itself, doing so throws a new light on how the murders or attempted murders were carried out and ultimately how the perpetrators were uncovered and brought to justice. Part I includes molecules which occur naturally and were originally used by doctors before becoming notorious as murder weapons. Part II deals with unnatural molecules, mainly man-made, and they too have been dangerously misused in famous crimes. The book ends with the most famous poisoning case in recent years, that of Alexander Litvinenko and his death from polonium chloride. The first half of each chapter starts by looking at the target molecule itself, its discovery, its history, its chemistry, its use in medicine, its toxicology, and its effects on the human body. The second half then investigates a famous murder case and reveals the modus operandi of the poisoner and how some were caught, some are still at large, and some literally got away with murder. Molecules of Murder will explain how forensic chemists have developed cunning ways to detect minute traces of dangerous substances, and explain why some of these poisons, which appear so life-threatening, are now being researched as possible life-savers. Award winning science writer John Emsley has assembled another group of true crime and chemistry stories to rival those of his highly acclaimed Elements of Murder.
 

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User Review  - hcubic - LibraryThing

Poisons are among the favorite weapons of mystery writers, if not murderers. Guns may be quicker, but poisons have a cachet that you really can't beat. On the other hand, murder by poison has become ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - krau0098 - LibraryThing

I am chemist by trade and when I saw this book pop up on Amazon Vine I thought I would get it and give it a read. It is a fascinating book. Anyone interested in chemistry, forensics, or even poisons ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

Ricin and the Rolled Umbrella
3
12 Toxicology and Chemistry
4
13 Ricin in Chemical Warfare
5
14 Production and Applications
6
15 Ricin Poisoning
7
16 Detection and Identification
8
17 Positive Factors
9
19 The Murder of Georgi Markov
13
55 Kristen Discovers Adrenaline is not the Perfect Poison
106
So Simple So Useful So Deadly
111
Chloroform and Mrs Bartlett
113
62 Chloroform
114
63 But is Chloroform Safe?
117
64 NonAnaesthetic Medical Applications
122
65 The Abuse of Chloroform
124
66 Chloroform as a Murder Weapon
125

Hyoscine and the Murder of Belle Elmore Mrs Crippen
23
22 Hyoscine Scopolamine
24
24 Criminal Use
31
25 Dr Crippen Arrives on the Scene
32
26 The Murder of Belle Elmore
33
27 The Origins of Crippen and Belle
34
28 The Murder
37
29 Arrest and Trial
41
210 Tailpiece
45
Atropine and Mrs Agutters Gin and Tonic
46
32 Atropine
47
33 Physiological Properties
48
34 Signs and Symptoms of Poisoning
50
35 Treatment of Atropine Poisoning
52
36 History of Atropine as a Poison
53
37 Atropine as Antidote
57
38 Atropine Murders in Fiction and in Fact
59
39 The Murder of Anna Buchanan
60
310 The Attempted Murder of Alexandra Agutter
61
Diamorphine and the Dr Jekyll of Hyde
68
42 Morphine and Diamorphine
69
43 Chemically Modified Morphine
73
44 Dr Harold Shipman
75
45 Suspicions Aroused
83
46 The Murder of Kathleen Grundy
84
47 Shipmans Arrest and Conviction
86
48 Postscript
90
Adrenaline and the NearPerfect Murders of Kristen Gilbert
91
52 Adrenaline Epinephrine
92
53 The Crimes of Kristen Gilbert
96
54 Murders and Attempted Murders
99
67 The Priest and the Prostitute
126
68 The Murder of Edwin Bartlett
128
Life Death CO Carbon Monoxide and the HomeMade Gas Chamber
136
72 The Properties and Uses of Carbon Monoxide
137
73 Carbon Monoxide in Nature
140
75 Positive Features of Carbon Monoxide
144
76 The Deadly Danger of Carbon Monoxide
147
77 The Murder of the Garcia Children
150
78 Margaret Joness Nightmare
151
Cyanide and the Death on the Nile
155
82 The Chemistry of Cyanide
156
83 Cyanides in the Diet
158
84 Toxicity of Cyanide and its Antidotes
160
85 Cyanide as a NonAccidental Killer
165
86 The Murder of Cheryl Lewis
167
87 The Tylenol Murders
172
88 Analysis of Suspect Capsules
177
Paraquat and the Poisoned Gravy
179
92 Paraquat as a Defoliant
180
93 Paraquat as a Poison
183
94 Murder by Paraquat
187
96 Ive Made You Gravy for Your Pie
191
Polonium and the Poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko
197
102 Polonium
198
103 The Assassination of Alexander Litvinenko
204
104 Assassination by Poison Down the Ages
213
Further Reading
218
Glossary
223
MetricImperial Conversion Tables
242
Subject Index
243
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About the author (2008)

Dr John Emsley is best known for his series of highly readable popular science books about everyday chemistry, some of which have run into multiple editions and printings in the UK, and all of which have been translated into several other languages. He has also published in national newspapers and magazines, and he has written chemistry text books and booklets for industry. John has a carved an impressive career in popular science writing and broadcasting over the past 20 years, emphasising the benefits of chemistry, and the chemical and pharmaceutical industries. John's chemistry career started in 1960 with a PhD in phosphorus chemistry from Manchester University. With spells at the University of London, Westfield College and Kings College as lecturer and reader, he became science writer at Imperial College and then the University of Cambridge where his prolific writing career took off. With his background in chemistry he has had over 110 original research papers published, mainly on phosphorus chemistry and on hydrogen-bonded systems. He has also had more than 500 popular science articles and features published in: New Scientist, The Independent (for which he did a regular column 'Molecule of the Month' for six years), The Guardian, Chemistry in Britain, Chem Matters, Focus, Science Watch and many more. Some of his best selling popular science books include: Better Looking, Better Living, Better Loving, (2007), Elements of Murder (2005), Vanity, Vitality & Virility (2004), Nature's Building Blocks (2001), The Shocking History of Phosphorus (2000), Molecules at an Exhibition (1998) and The Consumer's Good Chemical Guide (1994, Science Book Award Winner) His skills derive from the objectivity gained through a combination of an academic background and freelance writing. The breadth and the topicality of his coverage of chemical issues is second to none, and ranges from food chemistry to advanced semiconductors, from alchemy to Viagra. Although John is primarily an inorganic chemist he has proved himself capable of covering all branches of chemistry, helped in no small way by his willingness to consult those with specialist knowledge and to enlist them in checking his texts before publication. In this way his writing has gained a reputation for thoroughness of coverage and reliability of content. No science has suffered as much from media alarms and misinformation than chemistry, and much of this would have gone unchallenged but for John Emsley. John is regularly approached by the media and asked to take part in broadcasts, more often simply seeking advice on some aspect of chemistry, and his skill is to be able to provide a clear explanation. He is well-known to many in the media and he has been a stalwart of the Association of British Science Writers for 25 years. Dr Emsley is a great science communicator. His entertaining books have contributed to the advancement of a positive awareness of science and he says of himself in the preface of his book Nature's Building Blocks: 'As a writer of popular science, I am aware of the desire of people to know more of the world about them.'

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