Book Review ~ Pretty Evil New England

Hey, everyone. Hope this first Tuesday in November finds you well. This week I’m reviewing Pretty Evil New England, a true crime story by author Sue Coletta.


For four centuries, New England has been a cradle of crime and murder—from the Salem witch trials to the modern-day mafia. Nineteenth century New England was the hunting ground of five female serial killers: Jane Toppan, Lydia Sherman, Nellie Webb, Harriet E. Nason, and Sarah Jane Robinson.

Female killers are often portrayed as caricatures: Black Widows, Angels of Death, or Femme Fatales. But the real stories of these women are much more complex. In Pretty Evil New England, true crime author Sue Coletta tells the story of these five women, from broken childhoods, to first brushes with death, and she examines the overwhelming urges that propelled these women to take the lives of a combined total of more than one-hundred innocent victims. The murders, investigations, trials, and ultimate verdicts will stun and surprise readers as they live vicariously through the killers and the would-be victims that lived to tell their stories.

My Review:

I don’t read a lot of non-fiction. No matter how interested I might be in the subject, I usually grow weary after a few chapters and leave the book unfinished.

Not so with Pretty Evil New England. I was intrigued from the moment I learned Sue Coletta was writing this book. And once I began reading, it was hard to put down.

Pretty Evil New England is the story of five nineteenth century female serial killers, Jane Toppan, Lydia Sherman, Nellie Webb, Harriet E. Nason, and Sarah Jane Robinson. The author’s research into each of these killers is phenomenal. After finishing the book, I’ve concluded female serial killers are colder and more calculating than their male counterparts.

The book reads more like thriller fiction instead of a boring account of the crimes. Ms. Coletta writes about the victims, gives details of the crime, provides stories from witnesses, and covers the trials of each woman.

I hope the author will write more true crime books. If she does, you can bet I’ll be reading them.

Five stars!

28 thoughts on “Book Review ~ Pretty Evil New England

Add yours

  1. Excellent review, Joan. You’ve captured my imagination and my leap to add another to my Kindle. Congratulations, Sue. What an achievement! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent review, Joan. I’ve already got my copy on my Kindle, even though I haven’t read true crime at all since Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood,, nor even fiction that resembles it too closely. Still, after reading Sue’s excerpts here and there, I’m convinced I can read this one and will really enjoy it. And your review just cements that notion for me. I’m gonna give it a go very soon!

    Congratulations on a great review Sue. I’ll be starting it before too much longer! 🙂 And my very best wishes for a whole lotta sales, too! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve bought several non-fiction books the past few years (not all true crime) but most of the time I lose interest before I finish them. Not so with this one! I really think you’ll enjoy it, Marcia.

      Liked by 1 person

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