4 out of 4 stars
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Inadmissible by Kimbra Eberly is an interesting combination of crime story and historical research.
In 1892, a gruesome murder took place in Massachusetts. Andrew Borden and his wife Abby were brutally murdered in their home. Andrew Borden's daughter Lizzie was charged with a crime. Using the surviving materials of this case, Kimbra Eberly tries to understand whether Lizzie Borden could have really committed this murder. In doing so, she analyzes the stories of other Victorian women who were also accused of murdering their loved ones, to find out what drove them to such crimes.
This book is very well-edited. There is only two minor typos in it. It contains no syntax or grammatical errors. Another advantage of Inadmissible is the wonderful literary language in which it is written. The book contains many 19th century documents related to the Lizzie Borden case. There are excerpts from diaries and letters of people who knew Lizzie closely, court materials and passages from old newspaper articles. Reading these documents is almost like listening to the voices of men and women from the distant past. Beyond that, Inadmissible is beautifully illustrated. There are photographs of the Borden family members, their friends and other people associated with this case. These black and white vintage photographs are highly impressive. Borden's house plan helps to understand exactly where the murder took place.
The author is really trying to understand if Lizzie Borden could have committed this double murder. She carefully studied all the surviving information about this woman, from her school years to her hypothetical political views. Kimbra Eberly even found out how many dresses Lizzie had in her wardrobe. As a result, the author managed to create a reliable psychological portrait of a woman who lived in the distant 19th century.
It is also sort of a portrait against the backdrop of the era. Kimbra Eberly isn't just writing about Lizzie. She reports similar court cases from the time when young women were accused of murdering their family members. In addition, the author describes very well the life and customs of those times. For example, Kimbra Eberly mentions a possible attempted poisoning of the Bordens. She then talks about how poisonous the Victorian world was in general. Extremely dangerous substances were almost everywhere - in candles, clothes, children's toys, wallpaper and even medicines. It was very easy to get a poison. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that they were so popular with female murderers. Readers can trust the author's information about the Victorian era. After all, at the end of the book there is an extensive list of historical research from which she drew this information.
Besides, this stream of information about Victorian mores is skillfully interspersed with the story of the unsolved murder of Andrew Borden and his wife Abby. Thanks to this unique structure, both crime story fans and history devotees will not be able to tear themselves away from this book.
It is impossible to find any flaws in Inadmissible. The author has brilliantly managed to combine serious historical research and a fascinating crime story. So I give this book 4 out of 4 stars. It should be noted that Inadmissible contains some quite graphic descriptions of violence and bloodshed. So, overly sensitive readers should be careful with this book. However, Inadmissible can be recommended to crime story fans and history devotees.
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