Poisons Found in Literature

Poisons Found in Literature

When you read a detective mystery novel, there are usually some familiar components in every story, no matter who the author is. We usually have a victim or victims. Someone who has crossed someone else and met their untimely demise. Then we have the murder weapon, the device used to achieve the victim's demise. The classic examples we are all familiar with are the gun and the knife, but what about poison? In this article, we will talk about some various poisons used over the years to off someone.

One benefit of poison is that it can be a rather long fuse. Villains can introduce the poison in small batches, hoping to achieve their end goal while not being around to watch its impact and hoping not to get caught in the act. After all, nobody wants to go to jail, they just want to get away with the crime.

Other aspects of using poison are that some poisons can mimic other incidents occurring in the body and hence may go undetected, thereby creating the perfect murder.

While several authors have used various poisons in their stories, the one that seems to do it the most is Agatha Christie. I found one of the first poisons I encountered her using in the novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles, and I will talk about it below.

Arsenic - a favourite among novelists and readers. If you ask someone to name a poison, Arsenic would probably be one of the ones they will list. The nasty mineral with atomic number 33 has appeared in The 4:50 from Paddington by Agatha Christie, Strong Poison by Dorothy Sayers, Murder is Easy by Agatha Christie and Poison à la Carte by Rex Stout.

Atropine - not as common as some others, this poison Agatha Christie brought into her novel The Thumb Mark of St. Peter. The substance occurs naturally in several plants, including the Nightshade species and can be linked to our poison below Belladonna in Deadly Nightshade.

Belladonna - is a poisonous plant, and Agatha Christie's readers became acquainted with the poison when they read her work entitled The Caribbean Mystery.

Cyanide - another lethal poison that readers may be familiar with from the spy genre when the captured secret agent bites down in the hidden cyanide capsule embedded in his teeth to avoid interrogation. The chemical compound has shown up in works by several authors, including Agatha Christie's the Yellow Iris and A Pocket Full of Rye. It was also in the novel Sparkling Cyanide.

Hemlock - is linked to several poisonous plants has often been cited as an ingredient in a witch's potion, but Agatha Christie shared it with us in her novel Five Little Pigs.

Insecticide - given that we use it to kill bugs and pests in our homes and garden, it really comes down to what you consider a pest to be? Is it the ants crawling around near your patio window or the nosey neighbour who is always sticking her nose in everyone's business? In the novel A Shroud for a Nightingale, P. D. James uses this poison on the list.

Phosphorus - another compound that Agatha Christie shared with her audience in the novel Dumb Witness.

Ricin - is produced in the seeds of the castor oil plant and this poison was the poison of choice by Agatha Christie in her novel The Case of Lurking Death.

Strychnine - a favourite among novelist, this poison has appeared in several works of fiction over the years. It was the poison that Agatha Christie used in The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Alexandre Dumas played with it in The Count of Monte Cristo, and Arthur Conan Doyle went for it in The Sign of Four.

Thallium - is a chemical element with the atomic number 81. This poison was made known to Agatha Christie's readers in the novel The Pale Horse.

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