Clues: Facts of the Case

Ned Pryce from Dracula

Allow us to shed some light on the upcoming mystery: strychnine. If you are an avid mystery lover, and if you are reading this you are, then you will love a clue or two to get a leg up on the competition. Well, enjoy these facts on an essential point in Agatha Christie’s The Mysterious Affair at Styles. 


The 19th century witnessed the birth of the Industrial Revolution which is responsible for scientific advances, as well as technological. This progress  caused a boom in medical science which led to numerous remedies for ailments. Some of these were quite dangerous including morphine, cocaine, and opium.  The Victorians’ reliance on medicines and tonics carried over into the 20th century.

Emily Ingelthorp’s tonic contains the alkaloid, strychnine. By the first half of the 20th century, people were ingesting strychnine as a tonic or in pill form for gastric health. The plant source of alkaloid strychnine was discovered in 1818. This discovery was made by French chemists Joseph-Bienaime Caventou (1795-1877) and Pierre-Joseph Pelletier. Strychnine comes from the seeds of the nux vomica tree that grows in India. Although strychnine is a poison, it has been used in the past as a medicine. Strychnine was once prescribed as a remedy for heart and respiratory complaints and as a stimulant (or body “upper”). It is no longer used today because the size of an effective dose would be toxic. (Encyclopedia)