Posted in Book Reviews

Book Spotlight: Hell’s Princess: The Mystery of Belle Gunness, Butcher of Men: Harold Schechter

SYNOPSIS:“In the pantheon of serial killers, Belle Gunness stands alone. She was the rarest of female psychopaths, a woman who engaged in wholesale slaughter, partly out of greed but mostly for the sheer joy of it. Between 1902 and 1908, she lured a succession of unsuspecting victims to her Indiana “murder farm.” Some were hired hands. Others were well-to-do bachelors. All of them vanished without a trace. When their bodies were dug up, they hadn’t merely been poisoned, like victims of other female killers. They’d been butchered.
Hell’s Princess is a riveting account of one of the most sensational killing sprees in the annals of American crime: the shocking series of murders committed by the woman who came to be known as Lady Bluebeard. The only definitive book on this notorious case and the first to reveal previously unknown information about its subject, Harold Schechter’s gripping, suspenseful narrative has all the elements of a classic mystery—and all the gruesome twists of a nightmare.”

MY THOUGHTS: It’s been awhile since I’ve read from the true crime genre. As a book offered via Kindle First, (it’s due out 4/5) it caught my attention. Unlike other true crime books that I’ve read, this one was based on a historical case. I’d never heard of Belle nor of her legendary crimes.

I’ll start by saying that Mr. Schechter has done an amazing amount of research & dedicated an extraordinary amount of time to this book. I believe he combed every possible research avenue. I found his writing to be more than thorough. It is an unbiased account in which he allows readers ,and encourages them to, draw their own conclusion as to how the story ends.

Yes, it tells of some graphically violent events and many are not pleasant to think about, let alone read. However, the entire story of Belle is so fascinating that it’s hard not to continue to read. What makes the story even more intriguing is Schechter’s storytelling abilities. He gives us bits of relatable history mixed in with the sensational crime. Readers are given a look at the events, facts, and archaic investigative techniques of the era.

Although it’s a non-fiction book, the ‘characters’ are capable of drawing the same cheers, jeers, head shakes, and smiles that fictional ones do. Though a clichéd statement, here, truth is stranger than fiction. Mr. Schechter has done a marvelous job of telling Belle’s story as well as the stories of her victims. I’ve gone back to find more of his works because this one is so impressive.

If you’re a fan of true crime or fictional mystery, give this one a go. I give it 5 stars.

*Synopsis belongs solely to the author.

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