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4.1 out of 5 stars16
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 20 October 2013
I heard about this book when listening to the first episode of Book of the Week on Radio 4 whilst driving to a walk. I was intrigued by the title so I bought the book. However I found some of the detail hard to absorb and although I did eventually finish the book it didn't seem to have a proper beginning, middle, and end, and tended to go off at significant tangents.
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on 21 July 2013
if you are after a gripping read involving human greed and the capacity for evil, as well as an insight into Victorian daily life, this book is a must. The author combines masterful suspense with an authoritative and fascinating insight into the birth of forensic science. I found it difficult to put this book down.
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on 9 September 2014
I found this book a little hard going. Some of the explanations were fascinating but it could not be called an easy read. Of course I might be a little hard on Sandra Hempel but you pays your money and takes your choice.
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on 3 November 2013
An unusual subject, excellently researched and well written. I can thoroughly recommend it (also try the earlier work The Medical Detective).
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on 16 January 2014
I read this book on the strength of the good reviews, but having done so I'm very surprised it has been rated so highly. The poisoning case in question is fairly interesting, but there clearly just isn't a great deal of material on it, which has caused the author to keep deviating into all sorts of general historical topics.

At its worst, we get one paragraph relating to the case, followed by many pages, sometimes the rest of a chapter, on some other subject, be it poisons, local history, the history of coroners' courts or whatever. Though interesting in their own way, these things should be short footnotes rather than constituting the bulk of the book as they do - to the point where its easy to lose track of the central case.

UPDATE: Since writing the above, out of curiosity I delved into the glowing reviews and found that in the case of many of them, especially the early ones, it was the only review those individuals had ever left on Amazon. Which is interesting.

SECOND UPDATE: I've now also noticed that only the critical reviews have been marked as unhelpful. Even more interesting!
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on 9 August 2014
Cracking story, and well written.
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