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review 2017-11-10 12:08
Great Female Sherlock & Watson Cozy Mystery
Poison in Paddington (A Cozy Mystery) (Cassie Coburn Mysteries Book 1) - Samantha Silver

So good. I really enjoyed this, but wish it had been a but longer. And I Hought that parts of Cassie's backstory we're  a bit confusing. This is why I gave it five stars, but did not favorite it. 


The first book in the Cassie Coburn mystery series (there are four books in this series) follows Cassie after a life changing accident changes her prospects of being a surgeon. Cassie movies from San Francisco to London to get over her depression that still lingers since her accident.  After a bike of her gets stolen she has a hilarious meet up with a French woman named Violet Despuis who is a private detective helping out the London police. Violet takes an interest in Cassie after using her deduction skills on Cassie. Cassie finds herself intrigued by Violet since she has nothing else to do. The duo team up when Violet investigates a supposed serial killer case.


I really liked Cassie a lot. The similarities to Dr. Watson were great, but Silver did her own spin on it. I stead of going to war and suffering from a gambling problem, we have Cassie suffering from depression and an addiction to fast food. And Silver doesn't treat her like a bumbling partner to Violet. Cassie gets increasingly better at deductions with Violet a very good teacher. 


Violet was interesting, but we don't learn much about her except she's estranged from her family. 


I was confused about Cassie's backstory too. She mentions her father, but her mom was a single mother. I thought initially her father died, but another sentence I read made it seem like he abandoned the family. Also Cassie comes into a huge amount of money due to her accident. So her being a cheap skate about lodging (she initially stayed at a hostel) didn't feel real. 


The writing was good and I thought the flow was great. The book moved quickly. I wasn't that interested in Cassie's love interest either. That part ruined the book a bit since it turned it into a more mainstream romance book. 


The final clues that lead to the guilty party was great. 

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text 2017-11-10 11:56
Reading progress update: I've read 100%.
Poison in Paddington (A Cozy Mystery) (Cassie Coburn Mysteries Book 1) - Samantha Silver

Very cute Sherlock (French woman with wealthy family) and Watson (American doctor who had her surgical career cut short) pastiche. This was short, but so good. I loved everything about it. Don't think I'll pay $3.99 for the subsequent books though, they are all under 200 pages and that feels like a lot for each book.

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review 2017-10-24 22:53
The Elements of Murder
The Elements of Murder: A History of Poison - John Emsley

He was 32-years-old but had gone grey, which he jokingly said was due to quicksilver. Although there is no connection between the two, there is a link between the body burden of several metals and their level in hair. Mercury, lead, arsenic, and antimony, are particularly attracted to the sulphur atoms in the keratin of hair and so it is possible by the analysis of a strand of hair to show whether that person had been exposed to a large dose of these toxic metals. Newton’s alchemical experiments appear to have reached a climax in the summer of 1693 when he wrote an account that is a combination of bizarre alchemical symbols and comments and is known as the Praxis [Doings] and this showed how unbalanced he had become. Isaac Newton was well known for being temperamental. Criticism of his work aroused in him an abnormal hatred of a rival and his feuds with other eminent scientists of the day such as Robert Hooke and Gottfried Leibniz were more emotional than rational. At times, Newton withdrew into virtual isolation and in 1693, when he was 50-years-old, his behaviour became so abnormal that his sanity was even questioned.

The Elements of Murder was fun, but it was a book with shortcomings. I don't like to start out pointing at the issues with a book but bear with me:


1. The book does not cover that many elements. In fact, only five (all of them metals) get serious page time: Mercury, Lead, Antimony, Arsenic, and Thallium. There is a section at the end of the book that covers some more elements, but most of these entries do not even extend beyond a single paragraph.


2. Arsenic, Thallium, and Antimony are covered in other books (such as the fabulous A is for Arsenic), which made much of the information in this books seem like old news. 


3. Some of the writing is ... dubious. There is something wrong with the flow of the narrative. I can't put my finger on what it was, but I had to read some paragraphs several times to understand what the author was talking about. There were also a couple of paragraphs where the author alluded to something but then suddenly dropped the thought in what seemed mid-sentence and then moved on to something new. 


Yes, this book could have done with better editing.


But...here is why I still enjoyed the book:


The introduction about the history of alchemy and that first chapter on mercury were fabulous!


Emsley explains the properties and history of mercury, its uses, and its impact on the environment. He also goes to describe famous people who experimented with it, and how mercury has been responsible for various deaths. This part was really interesting and packed full of history and hard science. I loved it. 


However, in parts, it seemed like the author wanted to write a book about mercury only, and then felt compelled to add more chapters. 


I would still recommend the book on the chapter about mercury alone, but I do recommend to find it in a library. 


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text 2017-10-17 15:15
Reading progress update: Thallium
The Elements of Murder: A History of Poison - John Emsley

It's not that often that a book about murder makes me smile, but Emsley has bit of a "Battle of the Grand Dames of Mystery" going on here. (I have put the titles in spoiler tags in case the plot description provides spoilers...)


In the red corner, Dame Agatha:

Agatha Christie built one of her murder mysteries around thallium poisoning. In

1952 she wrote The Pale Horse

(spoiler show)

, in which the murderer used it to dispose of people’s unwanted relatives and disguised his activities as black magic curses. The plot involves a murdered priest and a pub owned by three modern-day witches.* Christie described the symptoms of thallium poisoning very well: lethargy, tingling, numbness of the hands and feet, blackouts, slurred speech, insomnia, and general debility, and she is sometimes blamed for bringing this poison to the attention of would-be poisoners. However, her book was responsible for saving the life of one young girl as we shall see.


In the blue corner, we have Ngaio Marsh also using Thallium:



Final Curtain, written in 1947

(spoiler show)

, the novelist Ngaio Marsh had her villain using it. The murder to be investigated was the death of

Sir Henry Ancred

(spoiler show)

who had been poisoned with thallium acetate which had been prescribed in the treatment of his granddaughter’s ringworm. Marsh clearly had no knowledge of how thallium worked in that she imagined that those poisoned with it would drop dead in minutes. Would-be murderers seeking to emulate her villain would have been very puzzled when their intended victims appeared to suffer no ill effects, although this disappointment might only have lasted a few days, and then they would have been fascinated at the many symptoms it produced.


I haven't read Marsh, yet, (something I intend to remedy someday) but one of the fun aspects in Dame Agatha's work is that she seldom gets the use of poisons wrong. Her training as a nurse and familiarity with pharmacy had much use, of course, but she also didn't slack on her research in that field.


This is the only instance in Emsley's book that cites crime writing. The rest of the book recounts real events and people.

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review 2017-10-15 23:46
NetGalley Review: Poison
Poison: A Novel - Galt Niederhoffer

I received this book via NetGalley to give an honest review.


Man once I started reading this book it was hard for me to put down. I honestly had no clue which way this book was going to go. A couple that seems to be happy yet the wife seems a bit crazy and ends up becoming sick? You know something is going on, especially with the husband telling white lies and it just builds and builds. I didn't put two and two together until Cass started really putting some thought on to what was going on with her. We see how her husband acts and it just slowly starts to click on to what is truly going on.

In this life you can't trust anyone even if that person is close to you, because they could be dangerous. This marriage is not healthy and we slowly see it start to unravel and yet Cass still holds on strong to making sure her children are safe. 

I ended up giving this book a four and not a five because there were some scenes that really didn't seem believable to me. I know, I know this is a book and it is not made to be 100 percent believable, yet when Cass started dealing with her male neighbor just something seemed off. 

We get the past and the present of what is going on in the household of Cass and it is not all butterflies and sparkles. 

I think the author did a good job with bringing up the way law enforcement and others view women who come to them without proof of being hurt. 

I wouldn't really call this book a mystery more like a psychological thriller that will have you wondering how this will end. 


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