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The beauty defense : femmes fatales on trial / Laura James.


"Justice is blind, they say, but perhaps not to beauty. In supposedly dispassionate courts of law, attractive women have long avoided punishment, based largely on their looks, for cold-blooded crimes. The Beauty Defense: Femmes Fatales on Trial gathers the true stories of some of the most infamous femmes fatales in criminal history, collected by attorney and true crime historian Laura James. With cases from 1850 to 1997, these 32 examples span more than a century and cross cultures, ethnicities, and socioeconomic status. But all were so beautiful, as James demonstrates, that they got away with murder. When Madeline Smith, a Glasgow socialite, tried to end a relationship with one man to date another, her jilted lover proved difficult to shake. She solved the problem, James writes, with arsenic-laced chocolates. And in Warrenton, Virginia, mild-mannered heiress Susan Cummings gunned down her polo-playing husband, Roberto, following a disagreement. While these two women lived in different centuries and on different continents, both of their lawyers argued that they were too beautiful to be killers. And in both cases, the juries bought it. In telling the stories of Madeline Smith and Susan Cummings-and 30 others-James proves the existence of the so-called Beauty Defense and shines a spotlight on how gender bias has actually benefited femmes fatales and affected legal systems across the world"-- Provided by publisher.

Record details

  • ISBN: 9781606353943
  • ISBN: 1606353942
  • Physical Description: xxii, 184 pages : illustrations, portraits, facsimiles ; 23 cm.
  • Publisher: Kent, Ohio : The Kent State University Press, [2020]

Content descriptions

Bibliography, etc. Note:
Includes bibliographical references (pages 173-184).
Formatted Contents Note:
Introduction : The Femme Fatale -- Beulah Annan -- Elvira Barney -- Adelaide Bartlett -- Countess Linda Murri Bonmartini -- Kitty Byron -- Florence Carman -- Jessie Costello -- Susan Cummings -- Germaine d'Anglemont -- Blanca de Saulles -- Pauline Dubuisson -- Princess Fahmy -- Laura Fair -- Annie George -- Clara Smith Hamon -- Alice Hartley -- Claudine Longet -- Nellie May Madison -- Julia Morrison -- Charlotte Nash Nixon-Nirdlinger -- Grace V. Nottingham -- Madalynne Obenchain -- Beatrice Pace -- Gertrude Gibson Patterson -- Nan Patterson -- Alma Rattenbury -- Daisy Root -- Abe Sada -- Madeline Smith -- Marguerite Steinheil -- Vera Stretz -- Countess Marie O'Rourke Tarnovska -- Epilogue: The Femme Fatale Lives.
Subject: Trials (Murder)
Femmes fatales > Legal status, laws, etc.
Beauty, Personal > Social aspects.
Beauty, Personal > Social aspects.
Trials (Murder)

Available copies

  • 1 of 1 copy available at Homer Library. (Show)
  • 1 of 1 copy available at Homer Library System. (Show)
  • 1 of 1 copy available at Homer Public Library.


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Location Call Number / Copy Notes Barcode Shelving Location Status Due Date
Homer Public Library 345.02523 JAM (Text) 000155539 Nonfiction Available -

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