Lady Killers: Deadly Women Throughout History

Lady Killers: Deadly Women Throughout History

by Tori Telfer

Narrated by Sarah Mollo-Christensen

Unabridged — 9 hours, 34 minutes

Lady Killers: Deadly Women Throughout History

Lady Killers: Deadly Women Throughout History

by Tori Telfer

Narrated by Sarah Mollo-Christensen

Unabridged — 9 hours, 34 minutes

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Overview

When you think of serial killers throughout history, the names that come to mind are likely Jack the Ripper, John Wayne Gacy, and Ted Bundy. But what about Tillie Klimek, Moulay Hassan, and Kate Bender? The narrative we're comfortable with is one where women are the victims of violent crime-not the perpetrators. In fact, serial killers are thought to be so universally male that, in 1998, FBI profiler Roy Hazelwood infamously declared that There are no female serial killers. Inspired by Telfer's Jezebel column of the same name, Lady Killers disputes that claim and offers fourteen gruesome examples as evidence. Although largely forgotten by history, female serial killers rival their male counterparts in cunning, cruelty, and appetite. Each chapter explores the crimes and history of a different female serial killer and then proceeds to unpack her legacy and her portrayal in the media as well as the stereotypes and sexist cliches that inevitably surround her.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

08/07/2017
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.)

From the Publisher

Telfer proves that you can stab, poison, and suffocate the predictable tropes about female killers and still write something salacious and entertaining.” — Caitlin Doughty, New York Times bestselling author of Smoke Gets In Your Eyes and From Here to Eternity

“Each tale a mini-thriller, Lady Killers recounts disturbing stories of real anti-heroines with wit and ease. Telfer’s insightful commentary reminds us that history isn’t always what it seems. Sometimes it’s worse.” — Rebecca Romney, coauthor of Printer’s Error

“A wonderfully executed—no pun intended—historical account of female killers. Lady Killers is a thrilling character study of the most diabolically complex, fascinating female psychopaths in history.”  — M. William Phelps, author of  the New York Times bestselling Dangerous Ground: My Friendship with a Serial Killer

“A fascinating, creepy and insightful read that will make you question everything you think you know about the supposedly fairer sex.” — Mara Altman, author of Thanks For Coming and Gross Anatomy

“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.” — Publishers Weekly

“Here’s an interesting survey of female serial killers... given its dark subject matter, it’s surprisingly lively. A welcome addition to serial-killer literature.” — Booklist

“The book is well-researched and informative, but squeamish readers beware: Telfer doesn’t hide the grisly and gruesome details about what these women did to the people they murdered... Heavily researched and filled with gory details, a rare look at women who killed for pleasure.” — Kirkus Reviews

“The chapters are well researched, and even when they start out reciting myth and legend (e.g., “The Blood Countess: Erzsébet Báthory”), Telfer goes on to deconstruct the legend and look for realism and fact behind the rumors, which is refreshing.... [Telfer] seriously interrogates the treatment these women received at the time of their crimes as well as afterward, shining light on how each case was handled. For true crime fans and those interested in feminist history.” — Library Journal

“Think serial killers are always male? This creepy, darkly humorous compendium of real-life tales will sho you otherwise—and keep you up at night” — People

People

Think serial killers are always male? This creepy, darkly humorous compendium of real-life tales will sho you otherwise—and keep you up at night

Caitlin Doughty

Telfer proves that you can stab, poison, and suffocate the predictable tropes about female killers and still write something salacious and entertaining.

Rebecca Romney

Each tale a mini-thriller, Lady Killers recounts disturbing stories of real anti-heroines with wit and ease. Telfer’s insightful commentary reminds us that history isn’t always what it seems. Sometimes it’s worse.

M. William Phelps

A wonderfully executed—no pun intended—historical account of female killers. Lady Killers is a thrilling character study of the most diabolically complex, fascinating female psychopaths in history.” 

Booklist

Here’s an interesting survey of female serial killers... given its dark subject matter, it’s surprisingly lively. A welcome addition to serial-killer literature.

Mara Altman

A fascinating, creepy and insightful read that will make you question everything you think you know about the supposedly fairer sex.

Booklist

Here’s an interesting survey of female serial killers... given its dark subject matter, it’s surprisingly lively. A welcome addition to serial-killer literature.

Library Journal

09/01/2017
Although this is Telfer's first full-length book, readers can find her work across the Internet on sites such as Jezebel, Bustle, and Salon. In 2015, the author wrote several pieces for Jezebel about female serial killers and has now turned that idea into a book. Each chapter is dedicated to a different murderer, with Telfer's profiles of deadly ladies spanning centuries. Her goal, according to her original Jezebel articles, is to disprove the widely held belief that serial killers are a boys-only club, which, to her credit, she does. The chapters are well researched, and even when they start out reciting myth and legend (e.g., "The Blood Countess: Erzsébet Báthory"), Telfer goes on to deconstruct the legend and look for realism and fact behind the rumors, which is refreshing. Her writing style is breezy and a bit precious. However, she seriously interrogates the treatment these women received at the time of their crimes as well as afterward, shining light on how each case was handled. VERDICT For true crime fans and those interested in feminist history.—Amelia Osterud, Milwaukee P.L.

School Library Journal

07/01/2018
With her debut, Telfer mines Lady Killers, her column for feminist website Jezebel, exploring female serial murderers. Erzsébet Báthory was a wealthy Hungarian noblewoman who between 1590 and 1609 tortured her serfs (did she bathe in their blood?). In the 1970s, Kate Bender helped run a welcoming Kansas inn where wealthy visitors never checked out. Egyptian sisters Raya and Sakina were accused of murdering more than 15 women in the 1920s, and the midwife of a rural Hungarian village was accused of teaching other women to poison the men in their lives who had just returned from the World War II battlefields. No contemporary serial killers are covered—the most recent case is the Giggling Grandma, from the 1950s. The breezy, occasionally humorous prose lightens the serious subject as Telfer offers a feminist analysis that counteracts the sexist and sensational coverage of these women. VERDICT A solid choice for high school research papers and true crime collections.—Sarah Hill, Lake Land College, Mattoon, IL

DECEMBER 2017 - AudioFile

Can’t get enough stories about serial killers? Telfer’s nonfiction survey of 14 multiple murderers does more than enough to fill the bill, and Sarah Mollo-Christensen’s tone blends just the right combination of darkness and light. Telfer allows that while most serial killers are male—“vicious, twisted sociopaths working alone”—many less spectacular but equally notorious repeat killers over the centuries have been women. Mollo-Christensen delivers Telfer’s thoroughly researched accounts of women whose pleasure came from ridding themselves of husbands, children, rivals, and anyone else who stood in their way. Their sexuality, emotional distress, and tendency to brutality illuminates the pathology of these individual women, and Mollo-Christensen is not squeamish when highlighting the graphic, grisly tortures and horrific killings they committed. S.J.H. © AudioFile 2017, Portland, Maine

Kirkus Reviews

2017-08-07
A compendium of women serial killers through the ages."When we think about serial killers," writes freelancer Telfer, "we think about men. Well, ‘man,' actually—some vicious, twisted sociopath, working alone. He probably has a dreadful nickname…[which] is his brand, a nightmare name for a nightmare man whose victims are, more often than not, innocent women." In her first book, however, the author compiles comprehensive biographies of more than a dozen women who were as vicious, coldblooded, and brutal as their male counterparts. These women took great pleasure, physically, emotionally, and sexually, in killing—their husbands and other men, their own children, and other women. Most often, they used poison to kill their victims, but some enjoyed, among other methods, brutal and bloody torture and throat cutting as a means to a deadly end. Telfer delves deeply into the role of the media in making these women notorious, and she analyzes how quickly they lost their stardom, fading into relative oblivion. She examines how physical attractiveness and sexuality played into each woman's personal scenario and how each was branded or given a nickname depending on the violent nature of her crimes. As the author writes, "there's something so seductive about the word ‘murderess.'" Telfer also explains how humor has been used to describe and counterbalance the atrocious acts these women performed. The book is well-researched and informative, but squeamish readers beware: Telfer doesn't hide the grisly and gruesome details about what these women did to the people they murdered. For those interested in historical facts about a special group of sociopaths, the author offers an illuminating read on a subject that has not received much publicity, except during the time when each woman was finally apprehended. Heavily researched and filled with gory details, a rare look at women who killed for pleasure.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940175332750
Publisher: Dreamscape Media
Publication date: 10/10/2017
Edition description: Unabridged
Sales rank: 200,002
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