Hell's Princess by Harold Schechter

Hell's Princess

In the pantheon of serial killers, Belle Gunness stands alone. She was the rarest of female psychopaths, a woman who engaged in wholesale slaughter, partly out of greed but mostly for the sheer joy of it. Between 1902 and 1908, she lured a succession of unsuspecting victims to her Indiana “murder farm.” Some were hired hands. Others were well-to-do bachelors. All of them vanished without a trace. When their bodies were dug up, they hadn’t m...

Details Hell's Princess

TitleHell's Princess
Release DateApr 1st, 2018
PublisherLittle A
GenreCrime, True Crime, Nonfiction, History, Mystery, Biography, Historical, Horror, Abandoned, Death

Reviews Hell's Princess

  • Tasha
    So 40% of this kindle book was references! Overall this was a great telling of Mrs Gunness’ life and impact on society at the time. My one problem was the author’s overuse of ‘Nigger Liz’ throughout and explaining that that was what she was known as at the time each time he used the slur. Mrs Gunness was known as lots of different names after her deeds were found out but the author didn’t feel the need to go about them the way he did Ms...
  • Nicole
    This book was a well-researched compilation of facts and rumors heretofore only available through a patchwork of different readings and articles. I appreciate the attention to details, court records, and even word of mouth from the time period- no aspect of the crime went unattended to. Truth be told, the work itself was very much worth the read (and a boatload of stars), but... while I realize this author has written other relatively well-receiv...
  • Chandra Claypool (wherethereadergrows)
    If you've read my reviews before, you know I'm not the biggest fan of non-fiction or history.... except when it comes to true crime and the like. I was SO excited for this book. I have done countless research on serial killers when I was younger as I had a bit of an obsession (still do but less research has been made in the past decade of my life). I already knew the story of Belle Gunness but didn't realize how much I remembered until I started ...
  • Mike Bevel
    Could Schechter have been a little less obnoxious with the misogyny (he never misses a chance to tell us how fat and unattractive Gunness was)? Did he seem a little too comfortable using Elizabeth Smith's nickname ("N----- Liz") repeatedly when once was really enough? There aren't answers to these rhetorical questions and there aren't definitive answers to the case of Belle Gunness, which Schechter muses briefly about at the end of the book. For ...
  • Melki
    An interesting, and absorbing account of turn-of-the-century murderer Belle Gunness. The author creates a unique Kindle experience, with "aged" pages, photos, and animation. The book is well researched, with a comprehensive section of notes and references. The ending is a bit dissatisfying, as there are many unanswered questions. This is why I prefer fictional, rather than true crime.
  • Katie
    2.5 starsI enjoyed the first third of the book, but found the rest disappointing. I suppose I did not realize the mystery was not Belle herself but rather than two-thirds of the book is dedicated to speculation about the circumstances surrounding her death. The author's excessive use of the "n" word seemed like using historical license to repeatedly use a slur for no reason at all. The author's insistent descriptions of how hideous and obese char...
  • Siobhan
    I love a bit of true crime, so interesting. Glad I chose this as my Kindle First book this month. It was my first Kindle in Motion book too and I liked the little videos and newspaper clippings etc. Very cool!
  • Mary
    Excellent, entertaining true crimeI've read another book about Belle Gunness, which was ok, but left me wanting to know more. I'm just delighted Schechter wrote this book--the answer to my wish for a more thorough treatment of the killer and her many crimes.For what it's worth, I think she killed her kids, plus another woman to make it look look like she died. Then she took off for parts unknown. It's too bad that the California lady was who she ...
  • Katya Kazbek
    A true crime book should not feel like you could have been better off reading the wikipedia page. And yes, I understand that Schechter's research did not pay off with a juicy twist he had hoped for. But that doesn't explain to me why there was a need to insert all the boring back and forths of the trial and everyone and their mother's suspicions. It was interesting for the first third (even though I found the intro oddly structured) but then it w...
  • Shaneice
    As a fan of authors such as Erik Larson and murder mysteries in general, I was very excited when this came up as an option for Amazon Prime's First Reads. It has a slow start but starts to pick up around the time Belle moves to La Porte. However, the book starts to slow down again around the time of the Lamphere trial. Now, I don't know if it's just because the author needed some filler or had to hit a word count, but there was A LOT of verbatim ...
  • Emily
    2.5⭐"She is entitled to be known to future generations as the arch fiend of the twentieth century." Hell's Princess is a good introduction to Belle Gunness if you don't know anything about her. If you are familiar with her story, you're probably going to be pretty bored. There's just so little information on Belle Gunness, it's tough to write a full book on her. It got pretty disjointed, and I feel like Schechter tried way too hard to create fi...
  • Susan Williams
    Great stuff!!!This is not the best book I have ever read but it was well written, very well researched and an exciting story. I think the author should get many kudos for resurrecting this true tale of turn of the century murder(s) and mayhem and then an interesting exposition on the local trial. Much wry humor at the crowds' ghoulish interest in it all and the over the top worldwide newspaper coverage at the time. Theories, countertheories, grue...
  • Koren
    A historical true crime about Belle Gunness. Did Belle kill several men and her children? How did she die? You decide. This takes place at the turn of the 20th century, long before sophisticated methods of investigation were invented. Harold Schecter is one of the masters of the True Crime genre.
  • Terri
    There once was a woman named Belle. She killed lots and LOTS of people, chopped them up and buried them on her farm. Nobody knows why. Nobody will ever know why. The End. You just saved yourself from having to read 300 pages. :-)
  • Ti.Me
    An extremely detailed, jaw-dropping look at what many consider the most monstrous woman of the 20th century.
  • Michelle
    As expectedI am a huge fan of this authors body of work. I've read both Serial Killer files and Psycho USA. This case was a particularly interesting one mentioned in both books. I was excited when I saw a book solely about the case. I was hoping it would tell me more about it.Unfortunately most of the case I was aware of. There was not much in the way of new information. The addition of Lampheres court case only made the case boring. I did enjoy ...
  • Matthew Briner
    Somewhat interestingI mean, there’s a lot of intrigue in this book, but over half of it is about whether or not someone else killed, or didn’t kill the subject of the book. When a book relies so heavily on conjecture when discussing a historical instance, it becomes less history and more fiction. I did find it to be compelling enough to complete though, so not a total waste of time. Also, how many times must the author tell us how ugly his su...
  • Sarah Renfrow
    This was a cohesive and more than complete rendering of this fascinating, widely reported early 20th century case.I especially enjoyed the writer's ability to hold my interest by making this time period come to life, and to make clear the public's reaction to the horror that these crimes inspired.
  • Nyx
    2.5 out of 5; rambling and ultimately unsatisfyingThis was my Kindle First choice for March. I also read "Depraved" by Schechter this month and I've rated "Hell's Princess" the same as that, despite finding it a lot less engaging. Clearly, a great deal of research has been put into both books. However, Schechter presents his findings in a manner that flips between stale and insultingly ill-mannered. When Schechter is not giving lengthy quotes or ...
  • Teresa
    Perhaps the reason I read true crime is to validate that I am umpteen degrees of separation from whatever kind of monster it takes to be a serial killer. Belle Gunness was one of the few female serial killers in the respectable Midwest of the US. So much for those nice Norwegians. She merely advertised for a partner with some cash and go them. They didn't last long after getting there.
  • Julie Ann Morris
    Very interesting bookEnjoyed reading this one. The writer has put a tremendous amount of time and effort into their research. Belle gunness case is fascinating, although I am surprised that I had never come across the story before. If you like reading about psychopaths and appreciate great research, then this is the book for you.
  • Curtis Sawyer
    How have I not heard of Belle Gunness?While a name like Lizzie Borden is well known, I had never heard of Belle Gunness before reading this book. It was a fascinating read, particularly the first two parts. While the third part describing a related trial is a slower read, overall I enjoyed the book and am still amazed I have never heard of this story.
  • Wende
    Such a hard book to finish. It was a good book nevertheless. I hope to read another book from this author.
  • Emily Randolph-Epstein
    Detailed and well-researchedIn Hell's Princess, Harold Schechter presents a detailed and well-researched narrative of the tale of Belle Gunness. I found this book to a gripping, informative and relatively unbiased telling.
  • Nico Kilmer
    Belle Gunness, the date from Hell.
  • Jada
    3.5 starsI'm not much for nonfiction, but when presented with the opportunity to purchase this kindle version for free through my Amazon Prime account and the "Kindle First Reads" or whatever they're calling the feature now, I thought this was the most interesting choice offered this month. Perhaps due to the fact that I don't read a lot of nonfiction, there was a certain dryness tone but I had some difficulty with, but once I got past that perso...
  • Jessica
    (SPOILERS)“...real life often presents us with criminal mysteries that stubbornly, even maddeningly, resist solution.” Page 258That quote is like this whole book in a single quote. I love real life murder mysteries, but I want a conclusion and I was hoping there was a definitive answer to this mystery of Belle Gunness but like everyone else, I will be left wondering with my own theories. I both liked and disliked this book. Belle Gunness is a...
  • Kay
    I was unfamiliar with Belle Gunness, a female serial killer who apparently was motivated by money to murder her husbands, children - at least the stepchildren, and eventually lonely men she lured through newspaper ads after screening them for their assets. Despite this, this book provided no real insight and unfortunately seemed tedious. The Kindle interactive illustrations really didn't work for this kind of book. I appreciated the historical ph...
  • Ginger Miller
    TerribleThis book consisted of little more than late newspaper editorials. There is no story here that has not already been written repeatedly. The author and his constant reference to Belle's "unattractive, stout, 280lb frame" is completely uncalled for as is his wonder if how any man would find her attractive. Would he have liked it better had Belle been a blonde with blue eyes and centerfold body? Completely chauvinistic. His racial reference ...