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As the old chemical works in Leith are demolished, a long deceased body encrusted in phosphate rock is discovered. Seated at a card table, he has 10 objects laid out in front of him. Whose body is it? How did he die, and what is the significance of the objects?
Phosphate Rocks: A Death in 10 Objects unravels the mystery using a mix of real life anecdote, scientific explanation and a touch of fiction, woven together to create a vivid account of the life and decline of a factory over five decades.
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Wry Fascinating and Funny
Ms Erskine once again delights with a unique blend of muscular prose, hilarious character observation and love of science.
Always the didact, this time Fiona treats us to a history of the fertiliser factory in Leith. The whodunnit murder mystery structure sits entertainingly over a narrative of the rise and fall of this mighty industry. We learn of the invention of the process in Germany, it’s central role in reducing global poverty, the folly of ICI management, the skill of the people who ran this plant and the human stories which make up a long established industrial complex.
The window offered on what it’s like to live and work on a major chemical site is not much covered elsewhere in literature, I guess because not that many engineers have the literary skill and dedication to bring it alive. This book triumphantly illustrates that the world of factory work is worthy of attention because of its significance to many people’s lives and the communities which it supports.
Think “History of the World in One Hundred Objects” meets Ian Rankin and enjoy.