Book Review: Lizzie Didn’t Do It; Emma Did!

I read a lot of crime books, and am starting to read a few more true crime books recently, so when I saw Lizzie Didn’t Do It; Emma Did! advertised, I was interested to read it.

If you don’t know, the Lizzie Borden case is very famous in the US, often mentioned in TV shows and Films, and even spawning a childrens’ rhyme. The crimes took place in Fall River, Massachussetts, in 1892, where Andrew and Abby Borden were brutally murdered with a hatchet in their home. Andrew Borden’s youngest daughter, Lizzie was accused of murdering her father and step-mother and was tried for the crimes in 1893. Although Lizzie was acquitted of the murders, rumours of her involvement still continue to this day.

As the title of this book indicates, author and historian E. Elaine Watson puts forward the idea that Lizzie was involved in the murders, but that the instigator was her sister, Emma Borden, a figure who is little mentioned in accounts of the crimes and who remains a very shadowy figure – in fact, as the book points out, a photograph of Emma on the cover of the book is one of very few images that survive.

Watson gives a thorough account of what happened on the fateful morning of August 4th 1892 and the subsequent trial, but in the final chapters puts forward her theory and describes how the crime might have occurred – I won’t spoil it by telling you what those chapters contain, but the theory is quite reasonable and should please any number of armchair detectives!

This book is a slim volume, but gives sufficient details of the crimes and background information, without getting lost in legal details or wordy descriptions and the text is excellently supported by photos and diagrams of the crime scenes.

Due to the passage of time, it is unlikely that the true perpetrator of these crimes will ever be revealed, but this book certainly puts forward an excellent and intriguing theory.

Lizzie Didn’t Do It; Emma Did! is available priced at £13.50 from Amazon and other good suppliers, which is fairly pricey for such a slim volume, but the Kindle edition is available for only £6.50, which is much more like it…

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