Tuesday Night Bloggers: My Favourite (Fictional) Poisonings

TNB PoisonThis week I thought I would share with you my favourite detective novels which involve poisonings, which was no easy task. Primarily because as I was going through my Good Reads list trying to pick titles out, I realised that for quite a few of the books I couldn’t quite remember how people died. In the end I decided to do two lists of favourites. One list is my Top 5 Favourite Christie novels involving poison and the other is my Top 11 Favourite Non-Christie Stories involving poison. For this list I have tried to include books where the poisoning is a dominant or fundamental part of the plot, so for instance in my Christie list I didn’t include 4:50 from Paddington (1957) because the poisoning in that is more of a minor aspect of the plot.

As always let me know which detective novels involving poisons are your favourites in the comments section below.

Top 11 Non-Christie Detective Stories Involving Poison

  1. Malice Aforethought (1931) by Frances IlesMalice Aforethought
  2. The Satellite People (2015) by Hans Olav Lahlum
  3. Strong Poison (1930) by Dorothy L Sayers
  4. The Judas Window (1938) by Carter Dickson
  5. Verdict of Twelve (1940) by Raymond Postgate
  6. The Reluctant Detective (2010) by Martha Ockley
  7. Green for Danger (1944) by Christianna Brand
  8. Who Killed the Curate? (1944) by Joan Coggin
  9. The Scent of Almonds (2015) by Camilla Lackberg
  10. The Poisoned Chocolates Case (1928) by Anthony Berkeley Cox
  11. The Documents in the Case (1930) by Dorothy L. Sayers

Top 5 Christie Novels Involving Poison

  1. Sad Cypress (1940)
  2. Crooked House (1949)Sad Cypress
  3. Sparkling Cyanide (1945)
  4. Five Little Pigs (1942)
  5. The Mirror Crack’d From Side to Side (1962)

My reasons for picking these texts either centred on how the poison was administered and the narrative twists this produced (The Scent of Almonds and Green for Danger) and/or on other aspects of the story such as humour (Who Killed the Curate?) characterisation and narrative voice/style (The Documents in the Case).


    • Santosh, you read my mind. Though I presume Kate’s thinking of he substance that incapacitates Answell in the opening chapter and so allows the impossibility to occur unobserved…


      • Yes, but I wonder whether a drug given simply to induce unconsciousness for some time can be strictly labelled as poison. In fact, in the story the whiskey is mentioned as being drugged not poisoned.


        • True dat. Guess you have to get into a semantic discussion about the word “poison” then, don’t you. It unarguably plays a key role in proceedings, however, so I can totally see where Kate is coming from.


  1. I can think of a couple of John Dickson Carr titles using poison: ‘Red Widow Murders’ (above average) and ‘Problem of the Green Capsule’/ ‘Black Spectacles’ (good), ‘Till Death Do Us Part’ (very good).

    I’m currently reading Todd Downing’s ‘Murder on the Tropics’, which seems to entail some use of poison – as of now, at least.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t read those Carr titles, though I feel like Christie more well known for her use of poisons than Carr, though as your examples attest, he did use them. I haven’t read that Todd Downing novel so I’ll be interested to hear what you make of it.


      • If I recall correctly, Carr has Gideon Fell deliver a lecture (*ahem* monologue?) on the use of poisons in ‘Green Capsule’/ ‘Black Spectacles’ – which is meant to be similar to Fell’s lecture on locked-room scenarios in ‘Three Coffins’/ ‘Hollow Man’.

        I’ve just finished ‘Murder on the Tropics’, which was an enjoyable read, with some well-written descriptions and tense moments. I don’t think any of the three Downing titles I’ve read presented especially impressive puzzles: ‘Cat Screams’ had the strongest and most convoluted mystery, while the narrative of ‘Tropics’ withheld certain key discoveries made by Rennert from the reader. But, as in the case of ‘Cat Screams’ and ‘Vultures’, ‘Tropics’ boasted of an exotic setting, and kept me engaged with the tensions of a claustrophobic situation. And I discerned some effort at springing a surprise on the reader towards the end – though I wasn’t entirely caught out with a key aspect of the solution.

        Liked by 1 person

          • Yes, in The Green Capsule, there is an interesting poison lecture by Fell mainly on the personalities of poisoners (chapter 18). This is little known though the locked room lecture is famous.

            Liked by 1 person

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