I'm not a true crime person, but I love a book that makes science easy to understand so I booked up this book. Right off the bat let me tell you who are 11 molecules are: Insulin, Atropine, Strychnine, Aconite, Ricin, Digoxin, Cyanide, Potassium, Polonium, Arsenic, Chlorine.
What's interesting about all of these molecules, and they mention it in the book, is that so many of those molecules can be used to treat you, and not hurt you. The dosage is reallllll important. As someone who was involved in medical research for a long time, I also found it interesting that it only took 2 years from insulins discovery in 1921 for it to be commercially available and ready to treat diabetics. But then three decades later we have the first known case of someone using it as a murder weapon.
What else is interesting: you'd think that a lot of these chemicals would need to be injected or something noticeable but the amount of people who were killed by just having their food or beverages doctored was pretty incredible. The a-hole who poisoned is wife with atropine in her drinks was released from prison and for a time taught PHILOSOPHY AND MEDICAL ETHICS. Because irony is alive and well.
Do you remember hearing about the story of the former Russian spy and his daughter who were poisoned by current Russian spies at their new home in England? Current Russian spies had coated the door knob of their home with a nerve agent, Novichuk, that is absorbed into the skin. When the ex-spy and his daughter were taken to the emergency room it was thought that they were suffering from an opioid overdose, until his past with the Russian government came to light. This was a compelling enough story but the last part of it, which I had never heard before just broke my heart. Apparently the would be assassins' smuggled this poison in a bottle of perfume so that it could be taken through the commercial airports they travelled through. After they used it they haphazardly tossed the bottle into a container for charitable collections. A man walking past saw the bottle of high end perfume just sitting there and took it home to his girlfriend. She was thrilled. She sprayed the nerve agent directly onto her wrist - about 10 times more than the ex-spy and his daughter was exposed to. She died 8 days later in the hospital. The Soviets/Russians show up in this book more than any other group, not super surprised.
This is a super interesting book, the chemistry talk is engaging and easy to understand. I wish all chemistry books were like this!