The follow up to Vronsky’s Serial Killers: The Method and Madness of Monsters, Female Serial Killers: How and Why Women Become Monsters does exactly what it says on the cover and takes a look at the female of the species, examining the psychopathology that led some of the most notorious of female killers into committing their crimes.
Slightly hamstrung by the fact that there has been nowhere near the level of study into female serial killers as their male counterparts, Vronsky therefore has fewer statistics to play around with and, at times, has lifted chunks from his previous work. That said, the book is still fascinating, with lots of interesting facts to divulge – whether it be on the types of killings women typically commit (the female tends towards poison as her favoured weapon, and is generally far deadlier than the male – getting away with her crimes for far longer, if she’s ever caught at all, and mostly lacking the elements of sexual sadism that is often typical to male killers), the commonalities in their backgrounds, and in a particularly fascinating section, just how large populations of otherwise apparently normal people can be turned into state sanctioned serial killers through the examples of Nazis.
There were a few moments in this book – particularly when looking at the feminist response to female serial killing – that made my temper flare, but I’m not sure if I was angrier with the way Vronksy wrote about this or with the radical feminist scholars who decided that people like the Nazi Ilsa Koch were actually being oppressed by the patriarchal gaze of the male Jews she was happily butchering.
There were also a couple of instances in this book that were too much for me. When looking at the only category where sexual sadism really comes into play (female and male couples), Vronsky chose to include some transcripts from the videotapes filmed by Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo, and the detail included – both during the rape of Karla’s 15-year-old sister, and then exchanges between the couple as they build their plans of murder – led to more than a couple of nightmares.
That said, this was still a fascinating book that provides plenty of food for thought for true crime addicts and, transcripts and radical feminist opinion aside, is one I’d recommend.