Deborah Blum’s nonfiction work is a riveting tale of history, science, and politics. What links the science of toxicology and Jazz-Age shenanigans? It’s simple—alcohol, and the lack thereof. Just as medical examiners and forensic scientists were developing the first tests for poison (which had previously been a nearly undetectable form of murder), the US began its noble experiment. The prohibition on alcohol during the 1920s created a raging black market for bootleg liquor, much of which was of dangerously poor quality. The government, hindered by dogmatic support for Prohibition, responded in odd and unhelpful ways. If you’ve ever been curious about Sherlock Holmes’ chemical tests; if you’ve ever wondered about Lucrezia Borgia’s hobbies; and if you’ve ever daydreamed of living through the Roaring Twenties, this is the book for you.
Read if you enjoyed: Stiff by Mary Roach, Boardwalk Empire by Nelson Johnson