The best books for writers of Victorian mysteries

Christine Anne Asbrey Author Of Innocent Bystander
By Christine Anne Asbrey

The Books I Picked & Why

A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie

By Kathryn Harkup

A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie

Why this book?

For any fans of vintage murder mysteries this book is a must-read. This is a thorough examination of the poisons used by Agatha Christie, giving details of the availability, interactions with the human body, how toxins can be detected now, and at the time the books were written. As a reader or a writer, this book will make murder by poison less of a mystery, and more of a trail of clues.     


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18 Tiny Deaths: The Untold Story of Frances Glessner Lee and the Invention of Modern Forensics

By Bruce Goldfarb

18 Tiny Deaths: The Untold Story of Frances Glessner Lee and the Invention of Modern Forensics

Why this book?

This is a biography of one of the unsung heroines of forensic science, and a lady who should never have ventured into the world of work at all. A socialite born in 1870 is an unlikely feminist hero, but she not only made the investigation of violent crimes her life’s work, she revolutionised the methodologies. Once you’ve read this book you’ll never look at a doll’s house the same way again.     


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Criminal Investigation: A Practical Handbook for Magistrates, Police Officers and Lawyers

By Hans Gross

Criminal Investigation: A Practical Handbook for Magistrates, Police Officers and Lawyers

Why this book?

Europe was at the forefront of the revolution in forensic science in the 19th century. Way ahead of the UK, and decades ahead of the USA. While most of the pioneers were doctors, Gross was a lawyer. He made the language of the law more accessible. Written over a hundred-and-fifty years ago as a textbook, the style will appeal more to the academic reader and researcher of historical forensics. The Kindle version hasn’t been transcribed well, but is a fascinating window on the past nevertheless. 


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Corpse: Nature, Forensics, and the Struggle to Pinpoint Time of Death

By Jessica Snyder Sachs

Corpse: Nature, Forensics, and the Struggle to Pinpoint Time of Death

Why this book?

Anyone who has been involved in the investigation of crime will tell you that establishing the time of the offence is vital. It’s always been surprisingly hard in the case of murder. This well-written book takes the reader through the advances and pitfalls in estimating the time of death accurately. It’s a superb work, full of scientific detail, and fascinating details which make this book a must for every crime writer.     


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When Science Sheds Light on History: Forensic Science and Anthropology

By Philippe Charlier, David Alliot, Isabelle Ruben

When Science Sheds Light on History: Forensic Science and Anthropology

Why this book?

This is exactly the kind of book I find fascinating, with real-life historical mysteries being explored and researched using cutting-edge scientific methodologies. It covers so many aspects of forensics, from facial reconstruction to DNA. If you are the kind of person who loves seeing famous people from history analysed for poisons, seeing mummies facing the same medical problems as we do, and wonder if a skull found in an attic belongs to a king, then this is the book for you.    


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