November 06, 2014

Mistresses of Mayhem: The Book of Women Criminals by Francine Hornberger

I'm fairly convinced that this book wasn't edited. Or at least if it was, it was a rush job. While it was interesting subject matter, the way it was written and the numerous mistakes and spelling errors made it hard reading.

Mistresses of Mayhem is a resource book that describes some of the most famous women criminals in history and the present. In fact, some of the women featured in this book are still alive while others have been dead for hundreds of years. There are murderers, prostitutes, and even pirates. Background on each of the women is given, and the events of their crimes are provided.

There are some bad ladies in here. And a good one that had charges against her dropped. And some who there are doubts about their guilt and undecided charges against them. Because their backgrounds are provided, there is some speculation into why they did the crimes that they did. Although their history doesn't always account for the terrible things that they did. I hadn't heard of the majority of the women in here, and some of their stories definitely came as a shock. It's enough to make you want to wish it was fiction.

This would have been a great reference book, except it didn't really read as a standard non-fiction reference book. There was tons of personal opinion in it I'm always a little skeptical if in a book that's supposed to be non-fiction, the term "white trash" is used several times along with other non-professional names and descriptors. It also had numerous spelling errors, places where you can tell a "find and replace" feature was used incorrectly, and probably the worst of all, some facts actually weren't recorded correctly (IE: two sisters names are reversed leaving the wrong one dead in the book). An editing read-through would have caught a lot of these errors, so I'm not sure what happened. The formatting is a page or two for each woman and it is sorted in alphabetical order.

It certainly doesn't seem as if this book was actually ready to be published. A little cleanup and it would be a good tome on women readers. In its current condition, I just can't recommend it.

Mistresses of Mayhem
Copyright 2002
248 pages

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