I am so biased when it comes to this book. I mean, not only is Lizzie Borden a Lovecraftian badass in this book, but it is also written by the amazing Cherie Priest. Honestly, only Priest could even write this book. Essentially (no spoilers!), Lizzie and her sister HAD to murder their parents because they were possessed by the Lovecraftian horrors that emerged from the ocean and infiltrated the sleepy New England town of Fall River. A great example of how fantastical fiction can do an outrageous (yet still probable) job of filling in the gaps of real historical events. Everything about the Lizzie Borden murders makes sense after reading this book. And, there’s a sequel!
Coming in 2019, Cara Robertson does an excellent job expanding on her dissertation. Robertson explores the motives and evidence against Lizzie Borden, as well as depicts the effect the crime had on the townspeople. Focused mainly on the dramatic trial itself, this book reads like the best John Grisham thriller. One of the only clearly researched and thoroughly written books on the Lizzie Borden ax murders.
Sarah Schmidt’s debut novel is a masterpiece of how historical events can impact and create literary magic. This is a book that is oozing with tension and family pain. Schmidt creates her version of Lizzie from historical evidence and then infuses her with emotional empathy that stuns the reader as the novel moves toward its conclusion. I fell in love with this version of Lizzie Borden.
Because of course there is a mass market true-crime pulpy version of the crime of the century (well, the crime of the 19th century in New England). Heavy on exploitation and violence, this is the book that reads like a lost episode of Dateline or America’s Most Wanted. This version of Lizzie Borden is murderous, scandalous, and diabolically insane. While it may be heavy on sensation over factual information, it doesn’t make for a horrible read.
While I was researching this post, I was excited to learn that Walter Satterthwait wrote a sequel in 2016. Totally added it to my TBR pile. Miss Lizzie uses historical facts to create an older version of Lizzie Borden, retired to seclusion because everyone thinks that she got away with murder. So what does an acquitted maybe-murderer do in their old age? They solve crimes of course! Satterthwait’s mystery novel finds Lizzie called on to solve a scandalous murder. A lot of fun, and some great twists and turns. Does it reveal if Lizzie was guilty or not? No spoilers.