This is a booklist created by Gere Branch library staff to accompany the stage production Arsenic and Old Lace at Gere’s neighbor, The Lincoln Community Playhouse.
Arsenic and Old Lace is one the most popular comedic black farces in stage history. Written by Joseph Kesselring and first staged in 1941, the play is about the wacky Brewster family, whose central hero, theatre critic Mortimer Brewster must deal with his homicidal visiting brother and two dotty old aunts, who, it turns out, have been assisting a series of lonely old men to cross to the other side, via lethal elderberry wine. Peopled by a cast of crazy eccentrics, Arsenic and Old Lace is comedy at its traditional best!
Poison: A History and a Family Memoir
by Gail Bell [364.152 Bel]
Poison is at once a fascinating history of the science and sociology of poisoning, and a true, first-person account of one woman’s struggle to understand its mysterious role in her own family’s murderous history.
Arsenic and Old Cake
by Jacklyn Brady [Brady]
With business going stale at Zydeco Cakes, Rita Lucero has plenty to worry about. But when the blind trumpet player Old Dog Leg Magee asks for a favor, she can’t say no. His brother Monroe disappeared forty years ago, and now someone has shown up claiming to be him. Old Dog Leg needs Rita to be his eyes—and see if it’s really his brother.
A chance encounter at a summer party sent writer Josceline Dimbleby on a quest to uncover a mystery in her family’s past. After talking with Andrew Lloyd Webber about a beautiful, dark portrait in his art collection, she decided to find out more about the subject of the painting: her great-aunt Amy Gaskell. Dimbleby had always known her great-aunt’s face from this haunted portrait by the well-known Pre-Raphaelite painter Sir Edward Burne-Jones, but beyond that and a family rumor that Amy had died young “of a broken heart,” Dimbleby knew little of her female forebears.
Elements of Murder: A History of Poison
by John Emsley [364.152 Ems]
Was Napoleon killed by the arsenic in his wallpaper? How did Rasputin survive cyanide poisoning? Which chemicals in our environment pose the biggest threat to our health today? In The Elements of Murder, John Emsley answers these questions and offers a fascinating account of five of the most toxic elements-arsenic, antimony, lead, mercury, and thallium-describing their lethal chemical properties and highlighting their use in some of the most famous murder cases in history.
The Language of Secrets
by Dianne Dixon [Dixon]
Justin Fisher has a lovely wife, a young son, and a successful career as a manager of a luxury hotel, but he’s troubled by the hole in his life left by his absent family. Hardly sure anymore why they became estranged in the first place, Justin gathers the courage to reconnect, only to find that his parents have passed away. And a visit to the cemetery brings the greatest shock of all—next to the graves of his father and mother sits a smaller tombstone for a three-year-old boy: a boy named Justin Fisher.
Close Your Eyes
by Amanda Eyre Ward [Ward]
For most of her life, Lauren Mahdian has been certain of two things: that her mother is dead, and that her father is a murderer. Before the horrific tragedy, Lauren led a sheltered life on the banks of Long Island Sound, a haven of luxurious homes and seemingly perfect families. But one morning, eight-year-old Lauren and her older brother awoke to discover their mother’s body and their beloved father arrested for the murder. Years later, Lauren is surrounded by uncertainty. Startling revelations force her to peek under the floorboards of her carefully constructed memories, put aside the version of history that she has clung to so fiercely, and search for the truth of what really happened that fateful night long ago.
Secrets and Lies
by Jane Isay [306.85 Isa]
By the author of Walking on Eggshells, a compellingly readable journey into the realm of family secrets, offering lessons and insights for those who are hiding the truth and those who discover what has long been hidden. After fifteen years of marriage her husband admitted he was gay, but together they decided to keep it a secret for the sake of their two sons. Building on her personal experience, sixty intimate interviews, and extensive research into the psychology of secrets, Isay shows how the pain of secrets can be lightened by full disclosure, genuine apology, and time.
Arsenic and Old Lace
directed by Frank Capra and starring Cary Grant [DVD Arsenic]
An easy going drama critic discovers that his kind and gentle Aunts Abby and Martha have a bizarre habit of poisoning gentlemen callers and burying them in the cellar.
Salvation of a Saint
by Keigo Higashino [Higashino]
Yoshitaka, who was about to leave his marriage and his wife, is poisoned by arsenic-laced coffee and dies. His wife, Ayane, is the logical suspect—except that she was hundreds of miles away when he was murdered. The lead detective, Tokyo Police Detective Kusanagi, is immediately smitten with her and refuses to believe that she could have had anything to do with the crime. His assistant, Kaoru Utsumi, however, is convinced Ayane is guilty. While Utsumi’s instincts tell her one thing, the facts of the case are another matter. So she does what her boss has done for years when stymied—she calls upon Professor Manabu Yukawa.
The Inheritor’s Powder: A Tale of Arsenic, Murder and the New Forensic Science
by Sandra Hempel [364.152 Hem]
Incisive and wryly entertaining, science writer Sandra Hempel brings to life a gripping story of domestic infighting, wayward police behavior, a slice of Victorian history, stories of poisonings, and an unforgettable foray into the origins of forensic science.
Murder Most Rare: The Female Serial Killer
by Michael D. Kelleher [364.152 Kel]
Marie Besnard, the “Queen of Poisoners”. Nanny Hazel Doss, killer of four husbands, three children, two sisters, and her mother–all to turn a profit. These are just two of the dozens of deadly and determined women who have been overlooked in the popular annals of serial crime–until now.
The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Reveled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime
by Judith Flanders [364.152 Fla]
In this exploration of murder in the nineteenth century, Judith Flanders explores some of the most gripping cases that fascinated the Victorians and gave rise to the first detective fiction. She retells the gruesome stories of many different types of murder–both famous and obscure–from the crimes (and myths) of Sweeney Todd and Jack the Ripper to the tragedies of the murdered Marr family in London’s East End; Burke and Hare and their bodysnatching business in Edinburgh; and Greenacre, who transported his dismembered fiancee around town by omnibus. With an irresistible cast of swindlers, forgers, and poisoners, the mad, the bad and the dangerous to know, “The Invention of Murder” is both a gripping tale of crime and punishment, and history at its most readable.
The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York
by Deborah Blum [364.152 Blu]
A fascinating Jazz Age tale of chemistry and detection, poison and murder, The Poisoner’s Handbook is a page-turning account of a forgotten era. In early twentieth-century New York, poisons offered an easy path to the perfect crime. Science had no place in the Tammany Hall-controlled coroner’s office, and corruption ran rampant. However, with the appointment of chief medical examiner Charles Norris in 1918, the poison game changed forever. Together with toxicologist Alexander Gettler, the duo set the justice system on fire with their trailblazing scientific detective work, triumphing over seemingly unbeatable odds to become the pioneers of forensic chemistry and the gatekeepers of justice.