Lady Killers: Deadly Women Throughout History

illus. by Dame Darcy. 336p. notes. HarperCollins/Harper. Oct. 2017. pap. $15.99. ISBN 9780062433732.
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.

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