My Library: A is For Arsenic by Kathryn Harkup

Cheering, flaily-hands thanks to Sally Koetsveld, who gave me A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie as a gift two Christmases ago, before I went to Lorne for a break.

Kathryn Harkup is herself a chemist, as well as a writer and avid reader of Christie. This makes her the perfect choice to write about the kinds of poisons Christie used in her stories from the combined storytelling and scientific points of view.

Some of the books I get for research I dip in and out of. Some, like this one, I read cover to cover. A is for Arsenic was perfect reading for a beachside holiday. Well. If you’re me.

It’s not an A-Z, but 14 letters of the alphabet are covered, describing the poisons most commonly used by Christie in her stories. Agatha Christie’s background as a dispenser in 1917 and beyond meant she was very familiar with several common poisons and their effects.

Harkup examines the stories in which they’re used (usually mostly spoiler-free or with clear warning before the spoilering commences). She talks about each poisons origins, whether they have antidotes in both the historical and contemporary contexts, how right Christie got the symptoms in the story and exactly how these poisons work in the body to kill the victim. The latter is pretty technical, but also very clearly laid out. 

When you write both Victorian-era and contemporary crime and horror, a book like this is a superb helpmeet. With it, I can determine, for example,  how much either Dr Watson’s medical background, or Holmes’s as a chemist, will inform their responses and deductions, how easily a poison might be obtained, and how long it might take someone to expire (or be saved!).

A is for Arsenic is entertaining reading on its own, but as a tool for the writer, it promises to be both a useful reference work and a probable source of inspiration!

Quintette of Questions: Charlotte Marigold

Answering five questions for me today is:

Charlotte Marigold

1. What’s the name of your latest book – and how did you choose the title?

The name of my latest book is Only for Show (book 2 in my Only You series). My publisher came up with the title and it’s inspired by the story’s fake relationship that is ‘only for show’. The first book in the series is Only for Pretend (another fake relationship) so you can see a trend!

2. If you could choose anyone from any time period, who would you cast as the leads in your latest book?

Casting a celebrity as inspiration for the hero in my stories is one of the most fun parts of starting a new book (and essential research of course!). For Only for Show I imagined the delectable Gilles Marini in the role of bad boy billionaire, Roberto Conti. He’s seriously hot and captures the cool, self-assured demeanour of Roberto while hinting at an inner vulnerability for my empathetic heroine, Sofia, to explore. Google him, you won’t regret it!

And for my heroine, spirited Sofia Beaumont, I would love to cast a young Monica Belluci. Dark, beautiful, sophisticated and sensual. The perfect match for Gilles/Roberto!

3. What five words best describe your story?

Glamorous, sexy, emotional, funny, delicious (chocolate plays a big part in this story!)

4. Who is your favourite fictional couple or team?

Johnny and Baby (Dirty Dancing movie) immediately spring to mind. Classic bad boy romance!

But if you’re talking literature, I’d have to go with another classic – Elizabeth and Darcy from Pride and Prejudice.  A popular choice, but there’s a reason for that! Swoon, swoon, swoon….

5. What song reflects a scene in your book?

I wrote the opening scene in Only for Show with Elvis’ version of Fever playing in my head. I also reference the song in this scene (Sofia and Roberto have to pose together in a photo-shoot while the music plays). The smokiness of the vocals, the seductive rhythm and suggestive lyrics perfectly captures the chemistry between Sofia and Roberto who are struggling to resist their scorching attraction to each other. It also happens to be one of my favourite songs.

About Only For Show

Enemies to chocolate lovers.

Sofia Beaumont and Roberto Conti’s relationship is only for show – a twisted fairytale manufactured for the Italian tabloids. But when the reclusive chocolatier unites with her family’s CEO playboy nemesis their sizzling chemistry is blatantly real. To Sofia’s alarm, her faux boyfriend is a seductive wolf in smoking hot sheep’s clothing; in Roberto’s embrace she’s in danger of losing all her senses.

Neither Roberto nor Sofia are prepared for the intense sexual awakening and emotional roller coaster as family loyalty collides with personal desire. Bound by their messy past, love of chocolate and forbidden attraction, the lines between fantasy and reality blur. But as the power of sensory memory unlocks devastating secrets to the past, will their chance at love be forsaken?

About Charlotte Marigold

Charlotte Marigold writes sexy contemporary romance for Escape Publishing (Harlequin Australia). In her passionate stories hot romance and seduction always lead to love.

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Words are like oxygen