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Murder Most Rare by Michael D. Kelleher

Murder Most Rare

by Michael D. Kelleher

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Most serial killers are male. But the women are often overlooked, and they can cause quite a bit of distruction before getting caught (if they ever do). Primarily poisoners, female serial killers are poorly studied or understood, which makes this book such an interesting read. But this is more of a true-crime book, not an actual examination of the mind of a serial killer or analysis of the history, psyche, and statistics surrounding women who kill. On the plus side, this book doesn't make the common mistake of calling spree killers serial killers. ( )
  kaelirenee | Nov 27, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0440234735, Mass Market Paperback)

If you're haunted by the image of the manacled, wild-haired Aileen Wuornos facing the television cameras in her prison orange, don't be fooled. According to coauthors Michael and C.L. Kelleher, Wuornos is no freak of nature. Murder Most Rare, an earnest history, profiles nearly 100 fatal females that have knocked around since 1900, more than half of whom were, or are, Americans. And, contend the Kellehers, these deadly dames were "far more lethal-- and often far more successful in their determination to kill--than their male counterparts." The lone female serial killer is rarely motivated by sex, chooses a method difficult to detect (poison, simulated accident, suffocation), and selects victims with whom she has a relationship. To add to the charm, "she is often overlooked as a suspect because of her maturity or position of trusted responsibility."

What drives this husband-and-wife team to pursue the whys and wherefores of female serial killers? Partly vindication--the Kellehers condemn the entertainment and news industries for romanticizing and sensationalizing violent crime. Also, their text intends to set the record straight. Fact: serial killing is not confined to the Ted Bundy phenomenon; rather, it has a long historical reach that includes "the infamous exploits of the gunslinger of the old West, ... the unspeakable crimes of the Nazi leadership, ... the contemporary Mafia hit man." To this noxious blend must be added the women in this book.

Black widows, angels of death, sexual predators, and team killers are, among others, some types of murderers, and each chapter describes the behaviors and methods unique to each. Marie Besnard, for example, the queen of poisoners (active in France from 1927 to 1949), was fully acquitted of all charges after three trials that spanned a period of more than 20 years. As the title suggests, Murder Most Rare offers up ripping yarns. Who wouldn't want to read about Nanny Hazel Doss, one of the more infamous black widows, christened by the press the Giggling Grandmother? Her successful "projects" included the deletion of four husbands, three children, two sisters, and her mother--and all to turn a profit.

Written for the lay reader interested in a "forbidden" subject more often sensationalized than not, does Murder Most Rare leave us the wiser as to why women kill? Unfortunately, the case histories read more like bland recitations. The Kellehers venture no analyses or theories about how circumstances might have contributed to the shaping of the criminal mind. The sketches leave the reader with the impression that these female criminals sprung, like Athena, fully formed from the head of Zeus. For the tenacious tracking of creepy psychological insight and in-your-face investigation, stick with true- crime queen Ann Rule.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:53 -0400)

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Describes seven categories of female serial killers--including the black widow, angel of death, and revenge killer--and explains why personality profiling for these cases is almost impossible, making homicide investigations so difficult.

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