Lady Bluebeard

Belle Gunness was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by the charms of her Norwegian cooking and handsome Indiana farm. The twice-widowed Norwegian emigrant was plain of face and stout of body, but she coyly assured correspondents responding to her 1905 matrimonial advertisement that her farm was valuable, the climate mild and her cooking first rate. Bring all your money, she urged her suitors, and tell no one where you are going.

Soon Belle started warmly welcoming men from all over the Midwest. With bulging trunks and cash-stuffed wallets, they slipped into the widow’s lair. After all, a hearty strychnine-laced meal was waiting, with a no-doubt freshly sharpened ax for dessert.

Yes, Belle was as good as any black widow in snaring her prey, until a mysteriously-set fire swept through her home and killed all within it. While digging through the smoldering ruins town authorities unearthed a surprising number of men’s watches…and then they started digging in the hog pens.

Another winner from true crime master Harold Schechter, Hell’s Princess: The Mystery of Belle Gunness, Butcher of Men is not only a compelling narrative of Belle’s “murder farm,” but also a detailed exploration of the deadly fire and whether Belle truly died or escaped to ply her butchering skills elsewhere.


Julie Nelson

Constant reader, book selector, shameless promoter of good reads - these are just a few of the things I do as a Collection Development Professional. I love sharing the hidden gems in our nonfiction collection!