Mistress of Death: Victorian Murderesses


cover49630-smallVictorian Murderesses by Mary Hartman delves into the lives, crimes and trials of 13 women in England and France during the Victorian Era.  The books separates the crimes into 6 sections, with two murderesses per section, save for one that involves a mother-daughter crime.  From women who murdered their children, to women who murdered oppressive lovers and husbands, the book is filled with written accounts and the occasional piece of village gossip.

Victorian Murderesses explores not only the crimes of 13 women, but also the roles and reasoning behind their behaviors. This at times led the book to read more like the textbook out of a University Women Studies course rather than a true crime discussion. The book uses highly detailed documentation from the murderesses trials, private lives and journals to make a case for the accused, with the book often falling into a sympathetic role. Though laden with justification, the book still makes it very clear that these women killed others, sometimes even children in their care.

For those who enjoy murder dramas and Investigation Discovery documentaries, this book will be a letdown. It is far more interested in the reason behind the murder rather than the act of the murder itself. Victorian Murderesses is more concerned with the historical details, trial documents and verbal testimony of those involved in the murder case. For those readers who delight in the details, love well-researched history books and trial documents, this book will be 400 pages of murderous delight.


Victorian Murderesses is available now.


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