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319 p. ; 24 cm.
Science journalist Deborah Blum shares the untold story of how poison rocked Jazz Age New York City. She tracks the perilous days when a pair of forensic scientists began their trailblazing chemical detective work, fighting to end an era when untraceable poisons offered an easy path to the perfect crime. Drama unfolds case by case as chief medical examiner Charles Norris and toxicologist Alexander Gettler investigate a family mysteriously stricken bald, factory workers with crumbling bones, a diner serving poisoned pies, and many others. Each case presents a deadly new puzzle and Norris and Gettler create revolutionary experiments to tease out even the wiliest compounds from human tissue. From the vantage of their laboratory it also becomes clear that murderers aren't the only toxic threat--modern life has created a kind of poison playground, and danger lurks around every corner.--From publisher description.
Green Library
1 online resource (115 min). Digital: data file.
In the early 1900s , the average American medicine cabinet was a would-be poisoner's treasure chest. Deadly chemicals such as radioactive radium, thallium, potassium cyanide, and morphine lurked in health tonics, depilatory creams, teething medicine, and cleaning supplies. While the tools of the murderer's trade multiplied as the pace of industrial innovation increased, the scientific knowledge and the political will to detect and prevent the crimes lagged behind. All this changed in 1918, when New York City hired Charles Norris as its first scientifically trained medical examiner. Over the course of a decade and a half, Norris and his extraordinarily driven and talented chief toxicologist, Alexander Gettler, would turn forensic chemistry into a formidable science, sending impatient heirs, jilted lovers, and desperate debtors to the electric chair, and setting the standards that the rest of the country would ultimately adopt.


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