A Killer Recipe:
Start: ladies from anywhere, anytime;
Add: lust for money, security, freedom, sex;
Subtract: empathy, tolerance, mercy:
Add: steely will, cunning, arsenic, knives;
Subtract: many, many, many dead bodies.
The Green River Killer, the Son of Sam, the Unibomber, Ted Bundy, Jack the Ripper. For too long the list of Epic Villains has been dominated by men. Lizzie Borden, after all, can only be credited with two murders and a good lawyer. This fascinating expose offers a compelling argument that the female sex can be every bit as lethal as its male counterpart. The overriding message seems to be that, if you have any suspicions at all about the woman who is offering you a brownie, feed a bit of it to the dog before you take a bite. — Alden Graves
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.
Tori Telfer is the author of Lady Killers: Deadly Women Throughout History and the host of the podcasts Criminal Broads, Why Women Kill: Truth, Lies, and Labels (CBS All Access), and Red Flags (Investigation Discovery). She lives in New York City with her husband and son.