Currently Reading will act as my check-in, letting you guys know what I’m forever reading at the moment, and what I’m enjoying about it. I’m not gonna discuss books that are on my priority October TBR list. Instead, I’m gonna talk about the books I picked up on a whim this month.
Lady Killers: Deadly Women Throughout History by Tori Telfer
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.
Why did I want to read Lady Killers? I hear a lot about male serial killers, but what about the women? There surely plenty out there that I don’t know about, but I don’t hear a lot about it. I’m fascinated by I want to see what these women have in common—how they kill and their reasoning.
What do I like about it so far? I love how it explores different female serial killers, and how they killed their victims (usually with poison). I like seeing how Tori Telfer unpacks the history and explains what could be behind the thinking of these ladies, instead of chalking it up to tired cliches.
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