Review of MISJUDGED MURDERESSES by Stephan Jakobi


MISJUDGED MURDERESSES: FEMALE INJUSTICE IN VICTORIAN BRITAIN by Stephen Jakobi will be published November 19th 2019 by Pen and Sword History.

MISJUDGED MURDERESSES combines two of my favorite things – the Victorian Era and murder. Specifically, murder by arsenic poison. Stephen Jakobi looks at the cases of six Victorian Era women who were convicted of poisoning someone (or multiple people) with arsenic and hypothesizes on whether these women were innocent or guilty. According to the book’s description, Jakobi takes a modern forensic approach with these old cases. Maybe I missed something, but I really didn’t find anything related to modern forensics in the book. Jakobi occasionally gave his opinion on whether or not he thought the woman was guilty or not. But his opinion didn’t really seem to be based on anything forensic. Jakobi mainly relied on reprinting the original newspaper articles and court/prison records from back in the day. These verbatim original writings were hard to read – especially since the incorrect spelling was left as is. Some of them went on for multiple pages without any paragraph breaks. These original writings really didn’t always explain what happened – or what was thought to have happened – and I grasp of the alleged crime. The material was interesting, but the way it was presented fell very flat.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.