I will first state that if true crime is not your thing then this is not a book recommendation you need. However, I enthusiastically insist that you read this post regardless because it is a really fun book. If you enjoy that sort of thing then by all means….proceed!
I have read lots of true crime. Some are good. Some are just okay. Some are absolute crap and I wonder why I even bothered. The subject just has this magnetic pull on my brain. I think my primary reason for this odd fascination is because I want to understand how people are capable of such violent acts. I do not understand what brings them to the point of being able to murder someone. So I read about them, try to understand the state of their mind and what events have transpired in their lives that send them down such a dark road. Female serial killers do not warrant much research because, scientifically, men are more likely to take a murderous turn. Do not be fooled. Women are just as capable of such horrific actions. They tend to be more cold and calculated in their murderous actions. In some cases the women are far more terrifying than male serial killers.
As I mentioned, I have read TONS of stuff on serial killers. Since most people think that there are few female serial killers out there, I have not read much on just female serial killers. Lady Killers: Deadly Women Throughout History is a brilliant addition to true crime and off-the-beaten historical texts. As extensive as my own knowledge of true crime is I was surprised to find that I knew only two of the ladies included in the book. This meant that I was getting to expand on my true crime knowledge. Hurrah!
Each section provides an identifying nickname along with an awesome drawing of the murderess. The drawings are the perfect addition to this book. It is so detailed and perfectly compliments the text. Tori Telfer was the ideal person to write this book. She adds such delightful wit to a really horrific topic. I never thought that I would say a true crime book has such great charm but it really does! She has the right amount of humor to shadow the murderous actions of the women. While the actions of the women discussed is incredibly violent and soulless, the book does not take on a ultra dark mood. She is strictly stating the facts and providing witty commentary to offset the murderous tone. It is not graphic or over-the-top gore. So if you want to dip your toe into the world of true crime this is a great starting point.
I could easily talk about this book in extravagant detail but I shall refrain from that…reluctantly…but I will refrain. I will talk about one woman that I was familiar with (thanks to one of the many true crime podcasts that I follow) before reading Lady Killers. So here is a very brief introduction to the Giggling Granny.
Nannie Doss looks like the ultimate grandmother of yesteryear however if you consumed her famous prune pie…chances were high that you would soon be six feet under. We can thank the press for providing Doss with the spot-on nickname of Giggling Granny. While discussing her crimes with the police and press alike Doss would giggle. While I will not go into the details of her tumultuous upbringing, I will say that her childhood was far from ideal. She wanted to live that story book happy ending but it just was not going to happen. Doss murdered her mother, a grandchild and four of her five husbands. Nannie Doss perfectly encapsulates the enigma that is female serial killers. How could this little old granny with the big smile possibly commit such unwarranted murders? It is not possible. Women are not capable of committing such acts. Well. I hate to break it to you. There are plenty more like Nannie Doss out there in both the past and present. That is what makes this such a terrifying world to live in. Perhaps my self-imposed, extensive true crime education works in my favor. I am fully aware that the grandmotherly serial killer is totally real!
I cannot say it enough. Tori Telfer’s take on lady killers is absolutely fascinating. I hope that you give it a chance because it is unlike anything you have ever read before.