California’s Deadly Women by Michael Thomas Barry – Review


Title: California’s Deadly Women: Murder and Mayhem in the Golden State 1850-1950

Author: Michael Thomas Barry

Genre: True Crime

Publisher: Schiffer Publishing

Summary: from Amazon

There’s an old saying in the news business: If it bleeds, it leads. The nightly California news and other media outlets are filled with stories of crime, killing, and sorrow. Within these pages rediscover 46 of the most notorious murders and shocking crimes committed by women in the state of California between 1850 and 1950. Examine the accounts of such notorious murderesses as the “Black Widow,” Louise Peete; “Tiger Woman,” Clara Phillips; the “Duchess,” Juanita Spinelli; and many more. Written in chronological sequence and enhanced by 50 photographs, each entry provides a concise overview of the crime, background information, and final dispositions. At one point these California crimes horrified the collective imaginations of the stateand nationbut many have faded away from our historical consciousness. They’re back. This book is an indispensable reference tool for anyone interested in California history and crime.


I enjoy reading books in the true crime genre partly because I, like many others, am fascinated by the facts and reasoning behind gruesome, chilling crimes. This book is a collection of short case files about notable crimes, mostly murders, that have been committed solely by women. This focus on women’s crimes give’s California’s Deadly Women a very intriguing twist on the usual stories of true crime. As is examined in this book – women’s reasons for committing violent crimes are very often quite different in motive and method to their male counterparts. This contrast is plain to see in these dark stories and I found it incredibly interesting to consider the facts of each individual case.

Another interesting facet of this book is seeing how the way crime is both perpetrated and dealt with has changed and evolved over the years. California’s Deadly Women covers the years 1850-1950 and these cases paint an informative picture of how society has changed and adapted it’s perceptions. Every case considered in this book is laid out in a matter of fact and unbiased way which gives the reader a chance to draw their own conclusions and form their own opinions.

Overall I found this book well written and extremely thought-provoking. These cases are all horrifying in their own ways and yet there is still something that captivates readers in spite, or perhaps, because of their macabre nature. I believe another book is to be released concerning the latter half of the twentieth century and I will be very eager to read it.

California’s Deadly Women is out now!

I received this e-arc through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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