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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin. 

The deliciously dark reimagining of the life and times of history's original female serial killer.

Belle Sorensen loves men. She loves them to death....

Early in life Belle Sorensen discovers the world is made only for men. They own everything: jobs, property, wives. But Belle understands what few others do: where women are concerned, men are weak.

A woman unhampered by scruples can take from them what she wants. And so Belle sets out to prove to the world that a woman can be just as ruthless, black-hearted and single-minded as any man.

Starting with her long suffering husband, Mads, Belle embarks on a killing spree the like of which has never been seen before nor since.

And through it all her kind, older sister Nellie can only watch in horror as Belle's schemes to enrich herself and cut down the male population come to a glorious, dreadful fruition....

Based on the true story of Belle Gunness, whose murderous rampage began in Chicago in 1900, Triflers Need Not Apply is a novelistic tour de force exploring one woman's determination to pay men back for all they have taken.

©2021 Camilla Bruce (P)2021 Penguin Audio

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Gripping fact-based female serial-killer story

Gripping based-on-truth female serial killer story.

I was caught up in this from the first. Based on a true account of a female serial killer, the path she will later follow isn't immediately obvious to the reader, but we build with first-person and her sister's soft-hearted observations to a place where murder is excused and explained away.

Brunhilde (interestingly enough, meaning 'battle armour') is a name the main character sheds when she moves to a new life in America. The young woman is lucky to be able to make the journey though, after finding herself with child by the farmer's son... who will not marry her and tries to make sure he does not need to. It's an experience and a scene that changes who this girl is, how she sees men, how she decides she can respond to their treatment of her.

When her sister Nellie pays for Brunhilde (now calling herself Bella) to cross the ocean and start a new life with her, helping with her housework and babies, Nellie no longer sees the innocent girl of the past, but a woman determined to find a better place for herself, using whatever she possesses to reach a place of safety, of security, of a full larder and respectability.

But Bella is not going to let people or problems stand in her way. She hasn't before.

Bella's character is understandable in so many ways. Her craving to always have more food than she actually needs is one I personally understand. Even if I can't explain it myself easily. Alright so the justification to kill a man who isn't perfect may not be one that I can also understand, but her history and mental state do help explain why a woman may have turned into a creature who both felt she had to do this, and wanted to do this.

We needed Nellie's view on Bella's behaviours, to remind ourselves how outside the norm almost everything she does actually was. Her sisterly 'looking away' and justifying her little Brunhilde's actions to herself is at once horrifying (as we know the details) but also so easy to rationalise. Her little sister is trying to make her mark and win in a man's world, with everything against her, and Nellie can't make herself believe all those terrible things her gut is telling her. She herself is a truly honest and upright woman, a counterpoint to Bella, cut from the same cloth but through different paths heading in the polar opposite direction in life, the slow plodding way to contentment.

For fans of bloody gore, you'll get your fill. For fans of (social) history, especially from the female perspective, you will also be spoiled. There's psychology and plenty here for discussion, and definitely a good TV series to be made from this.

And a few moments you might not be expecting. My one qualm was with the Audible version. Two voices, each portraying a sister, were great. But when one sister's voice then 'put on' the voice of the other sister, it sounded totally wrong. Too old and different to the voice given us by the opposing actor. It jarred a little and I wasn't actually sure who they were voicing until it became obvious from the narrative. Aside from that, this worked brilliantly on audio, and I raced through 15 hours in just a few days.

Excellent, evocative storytelling. Horrific, enticing and very convincing as a fictionalised account of a real-life killer.

With thanks to Nudge Books for providing a sample Audible copy, and to Netgalley for the reading copy.

2 people found this helpful

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Possibly the best book I've listened to...

...during lockdown. Harrowing, grim and heartbreaking all in one. The author deftly combines revulsion and compassion for the main character, whilst tying in life as an immigrant and social prejudice. Narrators did a good job, perfectly portraying fear, anxiety, pride, anger and loss in their readings.

2 people found this helpful

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brilliant

enjoyed this so much, really riveting novel, different plot that i really did enjoy, original ideas

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A binge-worthy listen

I really liked this book and listened to the entire thing over two days. Excellent writing and a great interpretation of real life historical events.

My only criticism is that the two narrators have similar voices so I got a bit lost at the beginning. Plus, the narrator for Belle seemed to use pretty much the same voice for every male character and it spunded like what I'd interpret as a bit of a 'sexy' voice which was quite distracting at first but I got used to it.

Worth a listen and an enjoyable story. I hope Camilla Bruce releases more books in the future.

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A woman after my own heart.

Although very long I did enjoy this audible book. Based on some facts and some fiction it was an interesting story. Certainly not a woman to Trifle with.

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Wow what a book

What an amazing book - I felt a mix of emotions but enjoyed it all - but also cried in parts. Well written

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Natalie Naudus is an awesome narrator

Awesome and magical story, great narration. So good, relatable, entertaining and enjoyable. Thank you Camila Bruce.