This true-crime narrative examines the question that mesmerized the nation in 1892: did Lizzie Borden kill her father and stepmother?
With an evenhanded approach, the author crafts a gripping story full of well-documented dialogue drawn from legal records. Lizzie Borden was the 32-year-old daughter of a wealthy but frugal businessman in Fall River, Massachusetts. She quickly became the prime suspect when Andrew and Abby Borden were bludgeoned to death in the home she shared with them. A conviction would result in the death penalty. After a brief prologue, a short section describes the gruesome scenes when the bodies were discovered, followed by an introduction to the Borden family. The rest of the chapters chronicle the investigation, hearings, and trial. An initial “Who’s Who” keeps the many players straight, while diagrams and photographs of the Borden house help readers picture the layout. Frequent sidebars, integrated gracefully into the text, add context. The detailed narrative separates fact from fiction, discussing and sometimes dismissing rumors and sensational newspaper reports. It’s hard to get a sense of personalities due to lack of reliable information, but the courtroom scenes are vivid and exciting.
The high-appeal topic will attract many readers, and the suspenseful account will have them trying to solve this still unresolved murder mystery. (author’s note, endnotes, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 11-15)