Lady killers : deadly women throughout history

by Telfer, Tori,

Format: Print Book 2017
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Inspired by author Tori Telfer's Jezebel column "Lady Killers," this thrilling and entertaining compendium investigates female serial killers and their crimes through the ages.

When you think of serial killers throughout history, the names that come to mind are ones like Jack the Ripper, John Wayne Gacy, and Ted Bundy. But what about Tillie Klimek, Moulay Hassan, Kate Bender? The narrative we're comfortable with is the one where women are the victims of violent crime, not the perpetrators. In fact, serial killers are thought to be so universally, overwhelmingly male that in 1998, FBI profiler Roy Hazelwood infamously declared in a homicide conference, "There are no female serial killers."

Lady Killers, based on the popular online series that appeared on Jezebel and The Hairpin, disputes that claim and offers fourteen gruesome examples as evidence. Though largely forgotten by history, female serial killers such as Erzsébet Báthory, Nannie Doss, Mary Ann Cotton, and Darya Nikolayevna Saltykova rival their male counterparts in cunning, cruelty, and appetite for destruction.

Each chapter explores the crimes and history of a different subject, and then proceeds to unpack her legacy and her portrayal in the media, as well as the stereotypes and sexist clichés that inevitably surround her. The first book to examine female serial killers through a feminist lens with a witty and dryly humorous tone, Lady Killers dismisses easy explanations (she was hormonal, she did it for love, a man made her do it) and tired tropes (she was a femme fatale, a black widow, a witch), delving into the complex reality of female aggression and predation. Featuring 14 illustrations from Dame Darcy, Lady Killers is a bloodcurdling, insightful, and irresistible journey into the heart of darkness.

The blood countess : Erzsébet Báthory
The giggling grandma : Nannie Doss
The worst woman on earth : Lizzie Halliday
Devil in the shape of a saint : Elizabeth Ridgeway
Vipers : Raya and Sakina
The wretched woman : Mary Ann Cotton
The tormentor : Darya Nikolayevna Saltykova
Iceberg Anna : Anna Marie Hahn
The nightingale : Oum-El-Hassen
High priestess of the Bluebeard clique : Tillie Klimek
Sorceress of Kilkenny : Alice Kyteler
Beautiful throat cutter : Kate Bender
The angel makers of Nagyrév
Queen of poisoners : Marie-Madeleine, the Marquise de Brinvilliers.

Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "Here's an interesting survey of female serial killers. The author introduces us to such ruthless people as Erzsébet Báthory, the grand dame of serial killers, a sixteenth-century Hungarian who enjoyed torturing and killing young girls; Nannie Doss, otherwise known as the Giggling Grandma, who murdered her mother, her sister, her grandson, and four members of her husband's family in the 1900s; Lizzie Halliday, the nineteenth-century Irish lass who killed her neighbors and her own husband (and who might have been crazy, or maybe she was faking it); Mary Ann Cotton, who predated Jack the Ripper by about 40 years and who may have killed three husbands and as many as 11 of her own children; and Alice Kyteler, who in the thirteenth century was the star attraction in one of the earliest witch trials in Europe, and who may have been Europe's first female serial killer (she liked to murder her husbands). This is the first book by Telfer, who's contributed articles to such publications as Salon and Vice, and, given its dark subject matter, it's surprisingly lively. A welcome addition to serial-killer literature.--Pitt, David Copyright 2017 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "In her debut work of nonfiction, Telfer, who writes for the Awl and Vice, exhumes the horrific criminal histories of 14 female serial killers. Each woman receives an individual portrait that outlines her crimes in gruesome detail. Among the women portrayed are Kate Bender, the "beautiful throat cutter" from Kansas who lured unsuspecting travelers to their deaths in the second half of the 19th century, and Nannie Doss, the "giggling grandma" from Alabama in the mid-20th century who was so dissatisfied with her string of husbands that she killed them off one by one. Telfer calls out the misogynistic tropes at play--the witches, femme fatales, and black widows, to name a few-in fictional depictions of female murderers. She also calls attention to how sexuality and beauty are often written into the popular narratives of these crimes. During the trial of Tillie Klimek for the murder of her husband in the 1920s, a reporter for the Chicago Tribune bluntly wrote that "Tillie Klimek went to the penitentiary because she had never gone to a beauty parlor." The oldest story in the book is that of Hungarian noblewoman Erzsébet Báthory, "the OG female sadomasochist," who tortured and killed hundreds of young women in the 16th century. With a breezy tone and sharp commentary, Telfer draws out the tired stereotypes with just enough wit and humor to make the topic of female murderers enjoyable. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Women serial murderers.
Serial murderers.
Publisher New York :Harper Perennial,2017
Edition First edition.
Contributors Darcy, Dame, 1971- illustrator.
Language English
Notes Includes P.S. insights, interviews & more section featuring a Q&A with the author and other extra material.
Description xvi, 316, 15 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages 279-316).
ISBN 9780062433732
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