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Pretty Evil New England: True Stories of Violent Vixens and Murderous Matriarchs

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4.06  ·  Rating details ·  32 ratings  ·  28 reviews
"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, ...more
ebook, 288 pages
Published November 1st 2020 by Globe Pequot Press
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Average rating 4.06  · 
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Valerity (Val)
This is an awesome true crime book about 5 women in the New England area, all killers. What really surprised me was that I’d never heard of any of them and I’ve been reading about this subject for 45+ years. Author Sue Coletta does a section on each of the women. You get Jane Tappan, Lydia Sherman, Nellie Webb, Harriet E. Nason, and Sarah Jane Robinson each with their own details, history, and M.O. It’s wonderfully researched and written, and I highly recommend it for true crime readers. Advance ...more
Sherry Fundin
I find True Crime books, like Pretty Evil New England by Sue Coletta, hard to rate. Research is vital, but also, the way the book is written can make it easier or harder. Since the murders took place in the late 1800s and early 1900s, I can see why research materials would be lean. Time, fires, and many other things can contribute to that.

I love to hear the characters speak in their own words, and Sue Coletta gave them voices. I love looking into their minds, even though I know I will never unde
...more
Mae Clair
Oct 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In Pretty Evil New England, author Sue Coletta takes a look at five 19th century female serial killers and their victims, including how these women—all who moved within genteel society without arousing suspicion—perpetrated their crimes. In some cases, the killers were highly respected individuals and often times, the victims were members of their own family. Coletta’s meticulous research provides detailed backgrounds of each killer, along with glimpses into the disturbed workings of their mind ...more
Carolyn McBride
Nov 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
I have been a fan of Sue Coletta for some time now, so I knew this book would feature her sharp writing, as always. But this book, being an account of female serial killers, was sharply researched to the point that the reader felt we actually knew these women. While I cannot understand how a woman can get away with poisoning an entire family, it was fascinating, in a morbid sort of way, to read about the women who did get away with murder. For a while.

Sue takes us back through history and peels
...more
Elaine
Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC of Pretty Evil New England.

I don't read much nonfiction but I know female serial killers take a backseat in history as opposed to their male counterparts and should be given their due so when I saw the premise to Pretty Evil New England, I knew I had to request it and was pleased when it was approved.

This is an ideal book to curl up with in October; it's not scary, but it's a fascinating read into the past when women were expected to be homemakers, mothe
...more
Judith Barrow
Nov 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Roberta Cheadle
Nov 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
I have always been interested in true stories about people behind ghost stories. Most myths and legends about ghostly sightings involve a person who has died badly at the hands of a third party, although a few are suicides. It seem that people who die as a result of murder are generally believed to become vengeful and become trapped in the spirit world due to a desire for revenge on their murderer.

Recently, I have turned my attention from the murdered to the murderer and I have been reading a f
...more
Staci Troilo
Oct 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
It’s More Chilling Because It’s True

I read Sue Coletta’s stories because they always send a shiver up my spine. When I saw she was writing a true crime book about female serial killers, I couldn’t wait to read it. Talk about chilling!

If you (like me) read true crime accounts or watch television specials about murderers and their victims, you’ve sat through—or given up on—some boring ones. Pretty Evil New England isn’t like that. Coletta doesn’t write this like a textbook but rather almost like a
...more
Karen
Oct 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow! This was an interesting read. I enjoy Ms. Coletta’s fiction stories and this was my first read of a true crime story by her. I always find her stories to be intriguing and entertaining and she never disappoints.

I have always thought of women serial killers to be more passionate about their victims and this book showed a couple of more sides to the killers themselves. The reasons behind their killings as well as the relationships with their victims.

It has always intrigued me as to the char
...more
Murder in Common
Oct 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Award winning Crime Fiction writer Sue Coletta brings a fresh perspective to the True Crime genre with her book: Pretty Evil New England – True Stories of Violent Vixens and Murderous Matriarchs.

With expressive descriptions, Coletta solidly brings you into a time and place. With a deft hand she brings characters alive, clearly demonstrating their duplicitous natures and calculating ways.

I particularly liked Coletta’s approach of adding modern forensic input by referencing a study by Penn State
...more
Debbie Burke
Oct 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing

Sue Coletta is the next Ann Rule

Pretty Evil New England reads like a fictional thriller but is a gripping true crime book about five female serial killers in New England during the late 1800s. The tales are horrifying and riveting at the same time. Author Coletta’s research is meticulous and thorough but historical details don’t slow the narrative pace. Also included are fascinating facts about forensic procedures that are surprisingly sophisticated for that era.
Pretty Evil New England is a mus
...more
Mary Hale
Oct 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
I loved the first 3 sections of this book. However, section 4 mixes two different serial killers, alternating chapters which I found very confusing. I understand the desire to combine them, they have a lot of similarities and there is less information on both but two shorter sections would have been easier to follow. Overall, I really enjoyed the mix of personal perspective, confessions, and trials. Highly recommended!
Mary Hale
Oct 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved the first 3 sections of this book. However, section 4 mixes two different serial killers, alternating chapters which I found very confusing. I understand the desire to combine them, they have a lot of similarities and there is less information on both but two shorter sections would have been easier to follow. Overall, I really enjoyed the mix of personal perspective, confessions, and trials. Highly recommended!
Angie
Oct 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a true crime novel from an awesome author! It was a first for me, as I usually read fiction. This was written extremely well and was a very intense read. If you like to read about serial killers, this is a definite must read.
Cyn Delia
Nov 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
e arc provided from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review

I can't say enough enough about how much I LOVED this deliciously evil true crime novel. All five of these cases feature women serial killers. Ms Coletta has written a well researched, thoughtful study of these women and their victims. I also liked the photos etc included in the book.
...more
Jillian Reise
Oct 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book was so intriguing to read. Whether you love true crime or this is the first one you have read you will not be disappointed. Sue Colletta writes an amazing account of these women serial killers. You get the history of their crimes and then a back ground of their lives which makes it hard not to be sad for these women. You really can picture what went on and how it led to their heinous crimes. And the books stay interesting right up until the end. I can not wait for her next true crime b ...more
Doris Wiggins
Oct 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The true account of five women who are serial killers. Between them over one hundred people were killed. This book tells you of their lives. The trials of murder and how they died. Some had absolutely no reason to kill the people they did. It was opportunity and pure unadulterated evil.
Well written. Very interesting.
Casey Bates
Nov 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is about five female serial killers back in history. It is one of the best true crime books I have read . The author Sue Coletta writes in details of the murders , she did her research well and I love how she tells the story . I will be looking forward to more from this author in the true crime genre .
Joan Hall
Nov 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don’t read a lot of non-fiction. No matter how interested I might be in the subject, I usually grow weary after a few chapters and leave the book unfinished.

Not so with “Pretty Evil New England.” I was intrigued from the moment I learned Sue Coletta was writing this book. And once I began reading, it was hard to put down.

Pretty Evil New England is the story of five nineteenth-century female serial killers, Jane Toppan, Lydia Sherman, Nellie Webb, Harriet E. Nason, and Sarah Jane Robinson. The
...more
Katy Lyn
Very well researched and well written book that delves into 5 female serial killers in 19th century New England. The book is broken down into 5 sections, one for each of the profiled killers. The details provided about the crimes and trials is pretty amazing all things considered which clearly shows how meticulously the author researched each of the cases.

This book is not gruesome, as some content can be when it comes to serial killers, but still manages to convey how horrendous the crimes were
...more
Amy
Oct 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: net-galley
I received this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Interesting stories. Reading electronically made some of the pictures and notations difficult to read.
Emily Dickson
Nov 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very Interesting!

Well written and interesting look at female serial killers. I don't normally read true crime as they fail to hold my interest ,but this one was written in a way that kept me turning the pages. I never realized how different the female and male serial killers could be. Loved it!
...more
Denise H
Nov 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I love watching documentaries, movies, and even TV shows (Criminal Minds, Bones, CSI, etc.) that delve into serial killers and all the background and forensics that go along with them. If they do get caught, it always fascinates me to see how – what the slip up was, who turned them in, etc. For that reason alone, this book was really fascinating to read, and then secondly, I love Coletta’s fiction series – The Mayhem Series and Grafton County Series so being interested in this book as well was a ...more
Mary Lawrence
I was approved for a book on netgalley called Pretty Evil New England. It is a book about female serial killers in the new England states of the USA.
Here is my honest review


I am done the first "story" not sure if that is the right word since this is a nonfiction/true crime book. I had heard about Jane Toppan before and her case usually interests me but for some reason this account was a little boring. It could be that I am reading this as part of a 24 hour readathon and have already been up fo
...more
Crystal
Dec 28, 2020 rated it liked it
This is a very intriguing book. If you can get through the entire middle. The first case, that of “Jolly” Jane Toppan moves along at a good pace in both storytelling and details. Then we get to the 2nd story in the book and here it takes a turn for me. The second story dragged on for a very long time and was so dry that I thought of quitting several times. I forced myself through because I wanted to read about the other killers (I’m a true crime fan and listen to several podcasts about the subje ...more
Ebb
Dec 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: arcs2020
I was only familiar with the case of Jane Toppan when opening this book. The chapter on her was familiar but similar to the other chapters, the formatting was bit awkward. In each chapter, the trials slowed the book down and sometimes felt repetitive and dry. This might have been due to the fact that all the murders were conducted using the same method, so a lot of the details of the cases felt like they blended together. The cases that I found to be the most interesting were Jane Toppan and Nel ...more
Carol Macarthur
Dec 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Currently, female serial killers get little coverage from the media. Sue Coletta's chilling account of five women--serial killers--in Nineteenth Century New England is a page-turner. Rather than a totally objective, documented account, Coletta writes these accounts in more the manner of a novel. The women become fully-developed characters from the court records and testimony. The book details the differences between the motivations and methods of the female killer and the male killer and is high ...more
Alissa
Nov 07, 2020 rated it it was ok
I thought this book was so boring. I had to skim huge chunks just to get through. I’m sorry to say that because I love true crime and was very excited to read this book. The only saving grace (which moved my rating up to 2 stars) was the amount of research and quotes from primary sources.

Like others, I found the formatting to be a pain when sent to my kindle, but I didn’t take that into account when rating the book.

Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Steve
rated it it was ok
Oct 25, 2020
Kenzie Mills
rated it it was ok
Nov 22, 2020
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Sue Coletta is 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 "Top 100 Crime Blogs on the Net" (Murder Blog sits at #5) for four years in a row.

She also blogs at the Kill Zone, a multi-award-winning writing blog, and writes two serial killer thriller series (Tirgearr Publishing) a
...more

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