cover image TENDER MURDERERS: Women Who Kill


Trina Robbins, , foreword by Max Allan Collins. . Conari, $15.95 (224pp) ISBN 978-1-57324-821-1

In these 20 compact case studies of crime's most fascinating and rare breed, Robbins (Eternally Bad) delves into the psyches and motivations behind such famous lethal ladies as Aileen Wuornos, Jean Harris and Squeaky Fromme. The appealing format, divided into five chapters, including modern and historical femmes fatales and bandit queens, is enhanced throughout by photos, artists' interpretations, ballads, quotes and trivia boxes. Robbins's true-crime writing style blends well with her often sarcastic and humorous interjections, such as describing Bonnie Parker of Bonnie and Clyde infamy as a "cute 'n' perky little thang." She indulges in some armchair psychoanalysis: "Long Island Lolita" Amy Fisher was just "looking for a loving father, one who didn't hit her." Though Robbins offers no single overall explanation as to what drives these strong women, whom she finds "perversely admirable," readers, whether drawn by this genre or the sexy 1940s style cover, will find the author's exploration of the question entertaining. (Feb.)