Murder at the heart of ‘Lady Killers’, a book about female serial killers

Tori Telfer reads from her book about female serial killers on Halloween night at Prairie Lights.


Lily Smith

Author Tori Telfer speaks at Prarie Lights Bookstore on Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017. Telfer is the author of Lady Killers. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)

By Salma Rios
[email protected]

Halloween: the spookiest day of the year. Most people go trick-or-treating with their children, while others go to parties with their friends. A few people in the Iowa City area, however, decided to spend their Halloween at Prairie Lights and listen to author Tori Telfer read about one of the most little-know facets of murder history: female serial killers.

Prairie Lights held a special reading Tuesday night in honor of the Halloween season. Tori Telfer read from her book, Lady Killers, which tells the stories of 14 deadly women and their motivations for murder.

Telfer is a full-time freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in Salon, Vice, Jezebel, The Awl, The Hairpin, Good magazine, and many more publications. She graduated from Northwestern University and has worked in publishing, teaching, and academic editing.

Accompanying Telfer at the reading was Lyz Lenz, the managing editor at The

Telfer started off her reading complimenting Iowa’s beauty and rolling fields, then began reading the last chapter of her book, called “Queen of Poisoners: Marie-Madeleine, the Marquise de Brinvilliers.”

The chapter told the story of Marie-Madeleine d’Aubray, a high-society woman who went on to poison her father and brothers when they had her lover thrown into the Bastille. She was a woman who wanted to break out of the cage her male relatives had put her in, so she murdered them in revenge.

Telfer’s reading of the chapter was very enjoyable. She was full of lively energy and was quite sassy in some places during the reading.

A Q&A session followed the reading, with Lenz leading the conversation. The women talked about humans’ obsession with serial killers and murder, as well as female serial killers in general.

When asked about why humans are obsessed with murder, Telfer said she believed that humans are obsessed with dramatic types of crime, such as murder.

“Serial killers are narration in the most extreme form,” she said. “This narration related to humankind’s love of stories and their own darkness.”

That women serial killers are not taken seriously because they are not seen as a threat was also brought up.

“Female serial killers don’t do the stuff that gets into the headlines — the bloody and gruesome crimes, that is,” she said.” So we have visual trouble seeing them as scary, and as a result, we aren’t afraid of them.”

The book also brings up issues on the ways people view female serial killers. It’s complicated, because people can’t help but side with the women, but they also have to remember that these women killed innocent people.

Facebook Comments