Hell's Princess

The Mystery of Belle Gunness, Butcher of Men
Narrated by: Malcolm Hillgartner
Length: 8 hrs and 53 mins
4 out of 5 stars (1,050 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In the pantheon of serial killers, Belle Gunness stands alone. She was the rarest of female psychopaths, a woman who engaged in wholesale slaughter, partly out of greed but mostly for the sheer joy of it. Between 1902 and 1908, she lured a succession of unsuspecting victims to her Indiana “murder farm.” Some were hired hands. Others were well-to-do bachelors. All of them vanished without a trace. When their bodies were dug up, they hadn’t merely been poisoned, like victims of other female killers. They’d been butchered.

Hell’s Princess is a riveting account of one of the most sensational killing sprees in the annals of American crime: the shocking series of murders committed by the woman who came to be known as Lady Bluebeard. The only definitive book on this notorious case and the first to reveal previously unknown information about its subject, Harold Schechter's gripping, suspenseful narrative has all the elements of a classic mystery - and all the gruesome twists of a nightmare.

©2018 Harold Schechter (P)2017 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Editor should be fired

More than half of this should have been cut and the interesting bits were glossed over. The author did what all good researchers do - delight in the minutia. This is where good editing comes in.

12 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Can a book about a serial killer be entertaining?

Well, this one was so interesting it kept me riveted, and I generally shy away from anything that has "serial killer" in the description. If I were Harold Schechter, given the subject matter of several of his books, I'd have nightmares all the time!

The book seemed well-researched and thorough. I was so engrossed in the story that I found myself yelling at the men out loud "Don't go there!" As for gory, the only other book of this genre that I tried to read was "Helter Skelter." That one was bad enough that I only made it to page 110. I did have a little trouble keeping some of the characters straight so I bought the Kindle version, too. Great combination! The Kindle version has pictures that move and enlarge, and a few other features.

The narrator was good, but as a Wisconsinite, I have to mention that he mispronounced "Ed Gein." I know that normally you would give this particular spelling the long "I" sound, but for some reason we don't. That made me wonder if he mispronounced other words, but he has good pacing and a pleasant voice so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt on the rest.

23 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A certainly thorough if a bit meandering study

Very interesting case. I found myself better informed, of how people lived in the early part of the last century. The quest for more money, for example, above all else, and the unimaginable way some predators get it. As for the subject herself, I'm not regretting the journey to knowing her better, tho' most of pathways were very dark. This is another good book for those interested in crime and psychological thrillers.

It does fly off on some unrelated tangents ( other crimes, for example, and some supposedly related reactions by contempories) There are also very detailed newspaper accounts as well. If, however, this audio does meander it is what I want an audio book to do and this one kept my interest!

20 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

too much filler?

The first half was great however, the rest kind of dragged on Longer than necessary.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Good beginning, drags toward the end.

I love history, throw in true crime and I'm hooked. The author held my attention but half way through the trial I got bored and my mind started to wander. Not good! I had to relisten to parts where I just didn't pay attention because I was bored. I hope someone else enjoys it more.

7 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Only worth listening to the first few hours

Overall, only the first 1/3 of the book is worth listening to. After that, the story is simply the drawn out court proceedings that occurred but no conclusive ending is reached.

4 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Good but

The book and story where fine. I think I was hoping for more. And more excitement it left me wanting more of the story.

4 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

I expected more

Not enough details into her crimes....and speculation not proof that anyone else helped commit the crimes.

3 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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It did not hold my interest

It wasn’t bad, but it did not hold my interest all the way to the end. By the time we reached the trial portion of the book, I was in a hurry to finish.

What stood out for me the most in this story was the “circus” of sightseers!

I understand the human interest in ghoulish events and true-crime (I call it murdertainment), books and films and endless Dateline episodes can attest to the fact that people are fascinated by depravity on some level… but postcards of the corpses, hunting for souvenirs and treasures such as grave dirt and bone fragments shocked me!

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Not enough information to be interesting

I want so much to be drawn in by stories of these earlier crime cases, but I'm discovering the same thing about Belle Gunness that I discovered about HH Holmes: there just isn't enough surviving information to make their stories all that interesting. The narrator does a good job; he's got a voice that complements the subject's time frame well. I just wasn't enthralled. It would be a great read if you're just getting into true crime.

2 people found this helpful