Jonathan Moore appreciates the love affair that bloomed in the Golden Age between mystery authors and the dazzling variety of concoctions killers used to despatch their victims. In this remarkable debut novel we meet a San Francisco toxicologist, Dr Caleb Maddox. He has a row with his girlfriend, and after stoking up his hangover with too much absinthe in the company of a mysterious woman, he becomes involved in trying to identify the poison used to kill several people fished out of the bay. He realises that he is looking for one killer, one poison, and one heady mix of art, murder and madness. Our man Andre Paine will tell you more in his review.