A formally inventive, lyrical, feminist analysis of Chile’s famous female murderers.
A Chilean author reconstructs the details of four significant 20th-century murders orchestrated by Chilean women.
Trabucco Zerán begins with the case of Corina Rojas, an upper-class housewife who hired a man named Alberto Duarte to kill her husband, David Díaz Muñoz, to escape a “loveless marriage” in which she felt like the “victim of a miserly and unfaithful husband.” The author continues with the case of news vendor Rosa Faúndez Cavieres, who murdered her husband, Efraín Santander, and then carved his corpse into multiple pieces in a futile attempt to hide the body. Next is María Carolina Geel, who shot her lover in broad daylight at the Hotel Crillón. Trabucco Zerán ends with María Teresa Alfaro, a live-in nanny who murdered her employer’s children and mother. The cases occurred in 1916, 1923, 1955, and 1963, respectively, spanning the 20th century. Rather than further sensationalizing these crimes, the author uses these women’s action—and, perhaps more importantly, the public reaction to their stories—to reflect on society’s shifting attitudes about gender, anger, violence, and the law. “Their crimes, while disturbing, are a privileged window from which to observe how the very meaning of womanhood has changed over time,” she writes. “Their contradictions and failures act as a mirror, reflecting back typically ‘un-feminine’ emotions.” Interspersed with cogent feminist analyses of the crimes and the public and media reactions of the time, Trabucco Zerán includes diary entries describing her personal experience with the research, infusing the book with a fascinating memoirlike quality and rendering the narrative voice both personal and relatable: “I had to doubt the word of lawyers and doctors, question the sensationalism of reporters, take novel plots with a pinch of salt, and slowly learn that a question is often a veiled accusation.” Throughout, the language is both precise and evocative, and the author’s evaluation of the various circumstances is readable, trenchant, and intersectional.A formally inventive, lyrical, feminist analysis of Chile’s famous female murderers.
Pub Date: April 5, 2022
Page Count: 240
Publisher: Coffee House
Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2022
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2022
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by David Grann ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 18, 2017
Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.
Awards & Accolades
Best Books Of 2017
New York Times Bestseller
National Book Award Finalist
Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.
During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.
Pub Date: April 18, 2017
Page Count: 352
Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017
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by Cassidy Hutchinson ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 26, 2023
A mostly compelling account of one woman’s struggles within Trumpworld.
An insider’s account of the rampant misconduct within the Trump administration, including the tumult surrounding the insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021.
Hutchinson, who served as an assistant to Mark Meadows, Trump’s former White House chief of staff, gained national prominence when she testified to the House Select Committee, providing possibly the most damaging portrait of Trump’s erratic behavior to date. In her hotly anticipated memoir, the author traces the challenges and triumphs of her upbringing in New Jersey and the work (including a stint as an intern with Sen. Ted Cruz) that led her to coveted White House internships and eventual positions in the Office of Legislative Affairs and with Meadows. While the book offers few big reveals beyond her testimony (many details leaked before publication), her behind-the-scenes account of the chaotic Trump administration is intermittently insightful. Her initial portrait of Trump is less critical than those written by other former staffers, as the author gauges how his actions were seemingly stirred more by vanity and fear of appearing weak, rather than pure malevolency. For example, she recalls how he attended an event without a mask because he didn’t want to smear his face bronzer. Hutchinson also provides fairly nuanced portraits of Meadows and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who, along with Trump, eventually turned against her. She shares far more negative assessments about others in Trump’s orbit, including Rep. Matt Gaetz, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, and adviser Rudy Giuliani, recounting how Giuliani groped her backstage during Trump’s Jan. 6 speech. The narrative lags after the author leaves the White House, but the story intensifies as she’s faced with subpoenas to testify and is forced to undergo deep soul-searching before choosing to sever ties with Trump and provide the incriminating information that could help take him down.A mostly compelling account of one woman’s struggles within Trumpworld.
Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2023
Page Count: 384
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2023
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