Hey, got a pointer to this article from Maureen at By Singing Light: From Nicola Twilley at the New Yorker: “Agatha Christie and the Golden Age of Poisons.”
Her [Christie’s] expertise can be traced back to volunteer service in the local hospital dispensary during the First World War, during which time Christie trained as an apothecary’s assistant. She successfully passed her exams in 1917, after receiving private tuition from a local commercial pharmacist. Mr. P., as she referred to him, was a rather alarming character, whom Christie caught making a potentially fatal mistake while formulating suppositories, and who carried a lump of curare in his pocket at all times, because, he said, “it makes me feel powerful.”
Whoa, that is a kind of scary guy. Did you all know that Agatha Christie had this kind of background? No wonder her use of poisons in her mysteries was generally so believable.
Twilley points out that poison was a useful murder weapon given that Agatha Christie was constructing elaborate puzzles rather than writing emotionally deep stories; the former point may be true and the latter point certainly is, which is why I was never that engaged by Christie’s mysteries.
Still, pretty neat article. Click through and take a look if you’re an Agatha Christie fan.