My Review of Pretty Evil New England -True Stories of Violent Vixens and Murderous Matriarchs by Sue Coletta. #Review #TuesdayBookBlogs #RBRT

Pretty Evil New England: True Stories of Violent Vixens and Murderous Matriarchs by [Sue Coletta]

I received a copy of Pretty Evil New England as member of Rose Amber’s Review Team in return for an honest review. I must thank Sue’s publishers, Globe Pequot Press, for sending me a paperback copy of the book.

Book Description:

For four centuries, New England has been a cradle of crime and murder—from the Salem witch trials to the modern-day mafia. Nineteenth century New England was the hunting ground of five female serial killers: Jane Toppan, Lydia Sherman, Nellie Webb, Harriet E. Nason, and Sarah Jane Robinson.

Female killers are often portrayed as caricatures: Black Widows, Angels of Death, or Femme Fatales. But the real stories of these women are much more complex. In Pretty Evil New England, true crime author Sue Coletta tells the story of these five women, from broken childhoods, to first brushes with death, and she examines the overwhelming urges that propelled these women to take the lives of a combined total of more than one-hundred innocent victims. The murders, investigations, trials, and ultimate verdicts will stun and surprise readers as they live vicariously through the killers and the would-be victims that lived to tell their stories.

My Review:

It’s been a while since I read a non fiction book. Whilst I generally enjoy the genre, it’s usually more to gain knowledge on a certain subject, to read about a particular topic or person. And then move on.

Sue Coletta‘s Pretty Evil New England is a book that will stay in my mind for a long time. I should say at this point, although I never give spoilers when reviewing fiction, I have, below, given some details of each of the five women, the murders and the resulta of the trials

It is obvious from the beginning that the author has researched these stories extensively. Her attention to detail is remarkable. Not only in that she brings these women to life for the reader, not only in that are their crimes are revealed, but the background story of each one gives an insight to the way their characters were formed. Which, in a way, gives the reasons, why it was almost inevitable, that they. became murderers.

The author gives a voice to each of the woman. It’s quite chilling to hear the way they saw the world and their victims. The reasons they say why they chose their victims are varied; suffice it to say, it only shows how evil they were.

The book is divided into five sections, dealing with each woman: Jane Toppan, truly frightening in the caring facade she presented to society for so long. Wicked in her careless reasoning for the deeds she carried out – for the way she discarded the deaths of some. Reading between the lines of the author’s writing, I thought Lydia Sherman was a a sociopath with little empathy for those around her. Again, a woman with veneer of compassion in public life that hides her true vicious character. Nellie Webb was a conundrum; well educated and religious, she stood trial as a poisoner but was not convicted ( though many doubted her innocence) Afterwards, together with her husband, she vanished. Her grave was never found. Sarah Jane Robinson, in debt and desperate for the payment from insurance policies, nevertheless, gave the appearance of a compassionate woman.who gathered her own and others’ families around her but she was a woman who claimed to have dreams of loved ones dying. And then they did. After the trial, she lived the rest of her life in solitary confinement. Harriet Nason was a solitary person by choice, viewed by many in the community with distrust. Although shown through the author’s research to be almost certainly the murderer of four people, she was found not guilty.

For me, Sue Coletta’s writing style keeps the reader enthralled. Her attention to detail is impeccable; she presents the court transcripts, newspaper articles, the interviews with the women against the background of the era at the time, and reveals the society they lived in.

I must give a mention to the illustrations and photographs. Excellently portrayed and placed to add a grim reality to the text.

And I loved the cover.

This is a non fiction book that will fascinate any reader who loves both fictional and real life crime. Thoroughly recommended.

About the Author:

Sue Coletta

Sue Coletta is an award-winning crime writer and an active member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. Feedspot and Expertido.org named her Murder Blog as one of the “Best 100 Crime Blogs on the Net” (Murder Blog sits at #5). Sue also blogs at the Kill Zone, a multi-award-winning writing blog.

Sue lives in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire and writes two serial killer thriller series published by Tirgearr Publishing. She also writes true crime for Globe Pequot, the trade division of Rowman & Littlefield Group.Coletta is a proud member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, and the Kill Zone, an award-winning writing blog where she posts every other Monday.

#RBRT Review Team

My Review of On Lucky Shores by Kerry J Donovan #RBRT

 I gave On Lucky Shores by Kerry J Donovan 4* out of 5*

The Book Blurb:

In an action-packed tale of secrets and lies in small town America, Chet Walker is a man forced to make decisions that will affect his future and the life of the woman he loves.

Witness to a car crash and in receipt of a cryptic message from a dying man, traveling musician, Chet Walker, reaches the picturesque lakeside town of Lucky Shores. He faces hostility and suspicion from the locals and learns that the information he carries could unlock an eight-year-old mystery—it could also get him killed.
Josephine Dolan, owner of the Lucky Shores diner, wants to bury her past. When Walker arrives with a message from her father, she doesn’t want to hear it. She cuts him cold.
When his life is threatened, Chet Walker learns the truth behind the saying, “no good deed goes unpunished.”

And what Advance Review Copy readers say:

“…great humour throughout and the romance was handled really well … the plot resolution was fantastic…” Ashley Capes author of The Bone Mask Trilogy.
“…more twists and turns than an Agatha Christie whodunit, and more surprises than a box of Cracker Jacks. Lee Child will blanch with envy,” Deforest Day, author of A Cold Killing.
“…keeps you up at night, turning the page, wanting to know what happens next. A nice mix of scenery, relationships and action, with plenty of mysterious twists and turns, keeps the pace of the story moving.” Suzanne Pherigo, ARC reviewer.
“…action-packed adventure I greatly enjoyed … superb …” Sophie Bristow Harris, host of ‘Kindle Suggestions’

The above reviews say it all really. But here are my thoughts.

Kerry Donovan’s writing style is admirable; his method of telling a story is easy to read but gives a depth to a plot that keeps the reader interested.

The book is set in a small town called Lucky Shores in the Colorado Rockies, a town struggling in poverty.  But rich in disparate characters.

 I loved the protagonist Chet Walker, a musician travelling around the country, looking for gigs to perform in wherever he can find them. The author has created a many-sided character with a mysterious background that if deftly revealed as the story progresses. And Joey (Josephine) Dolan is a perfect foil for him; yet another rounded character. In fact there isn’t one character in the book, whether I liked them or not, that I didn’t believe in.

The dialogue differentiates all these characters, it’s easy to work out who is speaking without the attributions and although the author uses American euphemisms, syntax and slang it was easy for me to read; in fact it would have been wrong not to stay true to the setting of the book.

And the descriptions of the settings are evocative and full of imagery. All create a picture for the action.

I don’t easily follow fight scenes; they’re as difficult for me to envisage as they seem to be awkward to write for many authors. But Kerry Donovan makes them both visible and (dare I say?) funny. The descriptions of the protagonist’s use of martial arts are brilliantly depicted

The pace of the plot moves steadily but with many surprising twists and turns, building the tension as the story reaches the denouement. Yet is this the end of Chet Walker? Somehow I think not.

This is a thrilling mixture of adventure, crime, mystery, romance; a real cross genre of a book. I enjoyed the read and don’t hesitate to recommend i

 

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review  as a  member of Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT

Buying links here:

Amazon.co.uk:

http://amzn.to/1KxxPmK

Amazon.com:

http://bit.ly/214uByg