THE MURDERER'S MAID by Erika Mailman

THE MURDERER'S MAID

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The 1892 story of accused axe murderer Lizzie Borden (and her maid) intersects with that of a domestic’s daughter in 2016.

Bridget, maid to the Borden family of Fall River, Massachusetts, has long been aware that there is something “off” about the Bordens, particularly the younger spinster daughter, Lizzie. Needing to send money home to her family in Ireland, however, she's convinced by Abby Borden to stay on. She feels sympathy for Mrs. Borden, the second wife of miserly mill owner Andrew Borden, who's never won the affection of her husband's eldest daughter, Emma. Emma, who still remembers her late mother, has also turned Lizzie, who doesn’t, against their stepmother. Cut to 2016. Brooke (real name Felicita), a Mexican-American woman whose mother, Magdalena, a housekeeper, died when she was 13, is on the run. After aging out of foster care, she’s in the latest of many apartments, under the latest of many assumed names, working the latest menial, under-the-table job. The reason for all this subterfuge emerges in flashbacks: years ago, the night Magdalena’s affair with her wealthy employer was exposed, the employer’s wife drowned. Brooke is convinced that the employer’s two sons were responsible for Magdalena’s "accidental" death and that now they are after her: she's received sinister messages reminding her that “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” Genealogy sites reveal that Brooke's absent father, known on her birth certificate only as “Dirtbag,” was a Belgian exchange student and a descendant of an illegitimate child of none other than Lizzie Borden, who fled to Europe to give birth. Thus these parallel stories converge. The reimagination of the many grievances that possibly stoked Lizzie’s murderous rage is fascinating, but the extensive rehash of the familiar forensics surrounding the infamous “40 whacks” overshadows more intriguing questions surrounding the legitimacy of Brooke’s paranoia. The period-esque language of the 1890s portions is mostly convincing if at times overly ornate.

A complex and riveting parallax view of domestic crimes, decades apart.

Pub Date: Oct. 30th, 2017
ISBN: 978-0-9970664-4-9
Page count: 398pp
Publisher: Bonhomie Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2017




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