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3.4 out of 5 stars17
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on 16 December 2001
I don't know what I expected when I opened the covers of this book, but what I discovered was an incredible work profiling female serial killers though the ages.
There are thirteen serial killers profiled starting with Anna Marie Zwanziger born in Nuremberg in 1760 and ending with Karla Homolka born 1970. In between we have Jeanne Weber, who killed her own children and it seems as many of her friends children as she could get her hands on, Genene Jones who qualified with basic nursing skills, gained employment in a hospital and attempted the murder of several children in her care, not thankfully killing all of them. Martha Ann Johnson, who also killed her own children, Charlene Gallego, who was a shy quiet child with a talent for the violin, but who eventually lured teenage virgins to their death. Judith Neelley, who committed armed robbery at age 16, Catherine Birnie, who had seven children, and yet assisted her husband in his quest for young sex slaves, Gwen Graham & Catherine Wood, Carol Bundy, Aileen Wuornos and the more familiar names of Myra Hindley and Rose West.
Before reading this book, I though that Myra Hindley was possibly the most evil woman that I had come across, but not so by a long way. This work was an eye opener.
Not only does the author present the reader with these profiles, but the book goes further, classifying female serial killers and then presenting theories about why women kill.
This is an awesome work that delves into the darkest recesses of the abused female, as it appears most of these women were, and provides a macabre account of their journey's through life.
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Lizzie Hayes.
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on 19 June 2001
I've read books about The Yorkshire Ripper and The Hillside Stranglers and thought that only men were unrelentingly vicious - but the things some of these female serial killers did were comparable or worse. Most of them abducted girls for sexual enjoyment. Some of the victims were teenagers and others were still kids.
Each chapter starts with the killer as a child so you get to know all about her early experiences - and they aren't good ones. By the time she starts to kill you've been drawn in to her disintegrating world.
But these female serial killers treat their victims even more badly than they themselves were treated and after the deaths they sometimes mutilated the corpses. Some of the women slept and ate having put bodies in the basement or under the floor. Occasionally acquaintances of the killers suspected them but just couldn't believe women kill strangers.
I couldn't put this book down for the first few chapters because while gruesome, it's also incredibly gripping. But then I just had to stop reading for a few days because it made me see the world as such a pitiless place. The life stories of these killers and their crimes continue to haunt me. So it's not for those of a weak disposition.
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on 26 November 2001
As a fan of Carol Anne Davis's realistic crime fiction it came as no surprise that she is able to take the reader inside the world of a number of notorious female serial killers. Well researched, but also full of insights supplied by the author, this is for those who are strong enough to deal with the harrowing reality of contemporary life. Cosy crime afacionados should look elsewhere.
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on 22 August 2013
This book was an easy read and delivers on grizzly details of the crimes. It doesn't however delve into the psychology of these women or really ask why they committed these crimes, what drove them to it or go into the bigger picture of women vs men in any great detail. I found this book frustrating for those reasons but also because there are a myriad of proof-reading errors that kept pulling me out of the book and it eventually made me question the author's credibility.

On this latter point, the main reason I rated this book 3/5 is because I feel this writer is in no way an authority on this matter. She has an M.A (from what university it doesn't say, which also isn't promising) that "included criminology", and then went on to do a diploma in education. Criminology is the study of crime, not the study of criminals themselves (which is forensic psychology), so what makes her informed enough to publish a book about these criminals I don't know, and her education as a whole seems questionable in the context of this subject. She also refers many times to other authors and praises them for their work which almost seemed over the top at times.

In short, it was an entertaining read (I'm sure the novels she's written are very good), but as a book based on fact and informed opinion it falls short of the mark for me.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 13 December 2007
'Women Who Kill' by Carol Anne Davis profiles the life and crimes of fourteen murderous women, including the really infamous ones like Rose West and Myra Hindley, as well as the less documented cases of people like Catherine Birnie and Martha Ann Johnson.

I can't deny that Davis has done her homework here, and I liked how each case was documented, beginning with the childhoods of these women, then the crimes, their punishment, and if weren't hung, their aftermath. These profiles were easy to follow. However, I was appalled by some of the things that this woman wrote, particularly about the Hindley case.

She claimed in later interviews that she thought she had put together something which was a fair account of the moors murders, but I really do think she appeared to be on Hindley's side, assuming things instead of sticking to the facts. Here is just one of two shining examples to illustrate this: ''Freed from Brady's influence, she returned to normal'', as if she knew this for sure. She suggested that Myra ''seems to have blocked out pictures'' of the deaths, and when a relative died, Hindley said it was the first time she'd seen a dead body. Davis says it was because she ''forgot'' that she had seen the dead body of one of her and her lover Ian Brady's victims, well, maybe, just maybe.. she lied deliberately because at that time she wasn't even admitting to her part in any of the murders? It isn't just the Hindley case that Davis makes such sweeping assumptions, and there are a lot of shocking generalisations throughout.

Although she seems proud that she has interviewed some people involved in these tragedies, I still doubt that Carol Ann Davis herself can offer up anything new or particularly insightful that you can't find in other books, a lot of which aren't told from such a personal perspective either. My advice is to look elsewhere. There are no photographs inside of this one to help illustrate things.
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on 18 March 2014
How disappointing. This was bought for me as a gift, and I feel sorry that money was wasted on it. The description 'profiles' of female serial killers is somewhat generous. This reads like an undergraduate writing an essay with little proficiency. Davis makes sweeping assumptions with little, if anything, to back them up. I would never call her an expert in her field, which is confirmed by her 'credentials'. There is no insight, depth or analysis. She appears to try and give weight to what she says by acknowledging people she has interviewed but, again, the quality of this 'research' is doubtful.

The standard of the writing is poor, with overuse of the word 'for' rather than a more acceptable 'because' for this genre. Some fault must lie with an editor who clearly cannot correct missing possessive apostrophes when they are required.

If all you want is a superficial overview of a few women's crimes from one author's personal perspective, fine. If you have expectations greater than this, don't bother.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 29 September 2014
Oh dear. This is not a well-written book at all. What is wrong with this paragraph fragment:
“She gave him a son, Earl, in 1979 and a daughter, Tibitha, the following year. She was still feeling afraid and inadequate and presumably hoped to cement her floundering relationship by giving her husband both a daughter and a son…”

This seems to present the birth of children as a matter of choice, as if she just went along to the midwife and said, ‘one son, please, and – oh yes, I’ll have a daughter too.”

Here’s another howler:
“All hospitals know that parents can injure or kill multiple times – but they hesitate to involve the law for fear that they can’t prove it.” Note the denotive language All hospitals – fair enough, perhaps they do know parents can kill multiple times, But do All hospitals hesitate to involve the law? Is that true? I had no confidence that the writer wasn’t merely filling in dumbo diddly doodah squat, just for something that might sound like she had special information to impart. Is this even a true statement? We have had several hospital scandals exposed within the last few years haven’t we? Not everyone is asleep on the job. With each such assertion my confidence that the writer had something interesting to say was fading.

It’s an inadequate book about a horrible business – murder. Should you wish to read about this I am sure there are better books. I read it – it is very informative about women who kill, up to a point. Beyond that point it paddles it’s feet wildly trying to give us an insight into the psychology of women who kill. It became repetitive, I became derisive. It didn’t range wide enough, concentrating on silly typologies in place of cogent information – The Black Widow, the Sexual Predator, Team Killers, etc. All of which Ms Davis fell upon with something like relief. It didn’t tell me much beyond what we all know from the newspapers. For a more reasoned and sophisticated explanation I would suggest you look elsewhere.
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on 26 July 2011
I have enjoyed reading this book by Carol Anne Davis, although it was not quite as detailed as i had expected it does clearly profile all of the female serial killers within its contents. It has also made me consider buying another of Davis's books, i.e. Chidren who Kill.
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on 5 August 2012
Well written but quite disturbing. These women are pure evil. It is frightening to read that some of these women have been released. What goes on behind closed doors!
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on 28 December 2010
I loved this book so much, I am a huge fan of Carol Anne Davis, she is an amazing writer who thoroughly investigates the killers she profiles.
Having a number of her books in my collection, I eagerly waited for the arrival of this one and I was in for a shock it was even better than I thought it would be.

It profiles 13 female serial killers beginning with Anna Marie Zwanziger born in Nuremberg in 1760 and ending with Karla Homolka born 1970. Through the book we have, Jeanne Weber who enjoyed to strangle children including her own, Genene Jones who enjoyed a sexual thrill almost when she killed young children at the hospital she worked in, Martha Johnson who killed her children, Charlene Gallego who participated in several murders of young women with her lover. Judith Neeley who with her husband planned on keeping sex slaves,Gwen Graham & Catherine Wood two lesbian lovers who enjoyed to kill their elderly patients, Carol Bundy who was convicted of killing her former lover (she shot him and chopped of his head) and participating with her lover Doug to killing prostitutes along Sunset Strip which is why they were called the Sunset Strip slayers, Aileen Wuornos who was wrongly called America's first female serial killer and the more familiar names of Myra Hindley whom many of us would call britains most evil woman but you will doubt that accusation when reading about the others and Rose West a true female sexual predator who with her husband killed young women including killing her own daughter and step daughter in acts of rage.

Also the author even includes chapters on classifying female serial killers and includes theories on why women kill.

This is an amazing book and a must-have for true crime readers.
I advise you all to buy this book...You will not be sorry, you will be really happy
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