The Science of Murder: The Forensics of Agatha Christie / Murder Isn’t Easy: The Forensics of Agatha Christie

Written by Carla Valentine
Review by Bethany Latham

The subtitle of this book about says it all: it’s a compendium of different aspects of forensic science, viewed through Agatha Christie’s cozy mysteries. Each chapter takes a specialty (e.g., trace evidence), gives brief background on the development of it as a science, some of the major figures involved, and then looks at instances where it appears in Christie’s works, and how she treats it. Some areas are stronger than others simply because Christie’s original source material offers more to go on (e.g., Christie admitted she knew little about guns, so the firearms and ballistics section is less robust than the toxicology chapter – Christie had worked in a dispensary and had an “encyclopedic knowledge” of poisons).

The prose is clear and engaging. The author has the requisite background: Valentine is a pathology technician who is also a great fan of Christie’s work, and she displays an obvious love of and exuberance towards her subject. Although they only appeared as placeholders in this reviewer’s advance galley, the work will probably be much enhanced by its illustrations and two appendices: a table of all of Christie’s murder methods and maps/floor plans (think: Clue). In sum, a well-constructed, readable, and engaging work on Agatha Christie’s approach to forensics.