A silent, simmering killer terrorized New England in 1911. A heat wave unlike any that had come before killed people in the streets, caused others to drown in the waters where they sought relief, and drove still others to suicide. As more than 2,000 people died during the natural disaster, another silent killer began her own murderous spree. Amy Archer-Gilligan operated the Archer Home for Elderly People and Chronic Invalids in Windsor, Connecticut. What was thought to be a respectable business run by a pioneering woman was exposed as little more than a murder factory. Amy would be accused of murdering both her husbands and dozens (as many as 60) of her elderly patients with cocktails of lemonade and arsenic - all for money. She would be convicted and sentenced to hang, and her story would shock turn-of-the-century America and provide the inspiration for the Broadway sensation and classic film Arsenic and Old Lace. Acclaimed crime writer and New York Times best-selling author M. William Phelps has written the first book to tell the true story of greed and murder even more shocking than its fictional counterpart.
Readers will enter a kind of Twilight Zone where a Bible-thumping caretaker and entrepreneur of the nursing home industry became one of history's most evil female serial killers. With first-hand accounts from Amy's "inmates", riveting trial transcripts, and accounts from the investigative journalists who covered the case, Phelps puts readers face-to-face with a woman who was both a Black Widow and an Angel of Death. And Phelps paints a vivid, spine-chilling portrait of turn-of-the-century New England.
This is historical true crime at its best.
©2010 M. William Phelps (P)2015 M. William Phelps
College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.
or even Gregg Olsen, but it is well researched and decently presented in a narrative style. Almost anyone familiar with true crime or serial killers has heard about this early 1900's case of the Christian boarding house killer, and it is nice to finally have a comprehensive book that tells the story.
Yes and No. Being a true crime and investigative book fan, I was a little disappointed mainly because of the lack of detail of the events and the constant mention of the heat wave that occurred during this time. I feel the author goes on and on about the weather and strays away too frequently from the story. Although the story of Amy Archer Philips is interesting, I believe maybe because of the lack of information available or lack of research on the author's part caused the author to try to elongate the book by constantly mentioning the heat wave. Maybe this book should have been titled "The heat wave of 1912 and the first female serial killer." Obviously not a good title but you get my point. I would have enjoyed more information on the trial(s).
Not at all.
The events leading up to and including Amy's arrest and trial.
To write reviews on audible books I've read. I've been fairly satisfied with all my books on audible thus far until now.
Eddie is an avid listener of all sorts of audio books. He is a voracious reader AND listener. Not just best sellers, he likes to experiment.
Okay, I would agree with some of the other reviews that this story was repetitive at times ... but when you kill 54 people (might be that many) the psychosis of the main character can seem to be repetitive. I thought that the extremely hot weather that set up the story was very interesting ... if not completely necessary to the narrative. And speaking of --- I felt the narration was fantastic. At times it was like listening to a documentary, complete with the "talking heads" being interviewed. While perhaps not the most amazing true crime book ever written ... I was gripped by the story and the characters and will try to search out more from this team if they ever work together on another of Mr. Phelps' books.
The book was all over the place very dull and hard to follow do to jumping all over the place and getting involved in different characters lives. The voice is the reader used were absolutely awful.
Great story, but not incredibly well-written. Somewhat repetitive--caught myself wondering on several occasions if I had repeated a passage. And I've never heard of dictionary.com being cited as a source in a serious piece of non-fiction. Also, I listen at 1.5x speed, but the narrator really overdid the direct quotes. I can go a long time before I'll need to hear a man doing so many little old lady voices.
Looking at other reviews, you'll see that some people are bothered by the fact that this book actually covers two stories in one--the story of Amy Archer and her many murders, and that of the heat wave of 1911 which also killed many people. I personally enjoyed it, and thought both stories were intriguing. Telling both stories concurrently helped set the time period, and gave a very good overview of the area. In all, I really enjoyed this book.
Except for the narration. Eddie Frierson would be a wonderful narrator for a fiction novel or children's book, but for a serious work of non-fiction, I think he was a bad choice. I know that narrators doing 'voices' for characters is a pretty normal thing, but this book doesn't contain dialogue so much as it has quotations--usually from letters and newspaper articles. So doing voices for these seemed an odd choice, particularly since Eddie's voices are really bombastic and cartoony. Even so, I did manage to get use to them for a while, at least, until he did Amy Archer's voice.
Eddie Frierson can not do women's voices. And unfortunately he didn't let that fact stop him from trying. It grated on my nerves every time he did the annoying fake-granny voice for Amy Archer. And in case you missed it, Amy is the titular serial killer in this book, so there are a LOT of quotations from her.
This was the only thing about this book that I didn't like, but it was a pretty big part of the book, so make of that what you will.
this was an awful book , it read like a weather report. I struggle to finish I only completed the honorable book because I purchased it. I didn't like the narrator but I guess they can only be as good as the book.
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