Mar. 25th, 2017

truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Sidneyia inexpectans)
Murder & its motivesMurder & its motives by F. Tennyson Jesse

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is extremely dated, with its talk of "moral imbeciles" and its somewhat naive belief that the motives for murder can be neatly separated in 6 categories (gain, revenge, elimination, jealousy, lust for killing, and conviction--she does admit there can be overlap). Jesse is a clear precursor of modern profilers, attempting to figure out what kind of person commits murder and what motivates them, even if her attempts seem clumsy now. And she provides excellent true crime writing. She writes clear and vivid narratives of the crimes of her subjects: William Palmer; Constance Kent; a dreadful pair of siblings, Aime and Aimee de Querangal; Mary Eleanor Pearcy; Thomas Neill Cream; and Felice Orsini, who tried and failed to assassinate Napoleon III. She conveys the horror of murder better than most of the true crime writers I've read, particularly in the chapter on Mrs. Pearcy.

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