Tuesday, 25 April 2017

The Borden Murders - Lizzie Borden & the Trial of the Century by Sarah Miller

Lizzie Borden took an ax,
Gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.

This is a song that was created around this famous murder case and it seems that it is quite well known in the US. However, it does not give us the whole extent of this extraordinary murder mystery. Behind it, is a real life murder mystery, to which there is no answer to 'who dunnit'!

Sarah Miller has done a thorough research into these gruesome murders which took place on 4 Augusti, 1892 in Fall River, Mass. The police was called to the house on 92 Second Street and found Mr and Mrs Borden murdered in the house. Mrs Borden upstairs in her bedroom and Mr Borden on the sofa in the living room.

The only persons in the house was the youngest daughter Lizzie and the maid Bridget. The police did not do a very good first investigation of the murder scene and this was later an obstacle in the trial. However, after a few days the police decided to arrest the daughter Lizzie Borden for murdering her parents.

Sarah Miller takes us through the events of the day of both the women, checking the house and the barn for evidence and not finding very much. There was quite a lot of blood from the bodies, but no blood was found on either of the women or anywhere else. The murder weapon was not found. A reason for the killing was not found, although it was said that Lizzie did not get along with her step mother, and, it seems, had no problem with her father. It is a complete mystery. Lizzie insisted all through this ordeal that she was not guilty. However, some of her initial remarks on what she was doing that day, left more questions than answers.

It is a very interesting story and Sarah Miller has made the most of it. Although you already know the outcome of the trial, the story is so exciting that it is difficult to put the book down. How does the prosecution aim to proceed to get her convicted? How is the defence meeting the accusations? How is Lizzie Borden holding up during this time of pressure? What will the jury say?

Apart from all the facts there are so many question marks on this case. It would be interesting to see if a modern approach to solving crimes would have been able to solve it or not. Of course, many modern ways of analysing a crime scene were not available at the time.

Sarah Miller also gives us the story of Lizzie's and her sister Emma's life after the trial. They continued to live in Fall River, bought a house and lived there until they one day fell out and Emma moved. However, Emma stood by her sister her whole life and insisted she was innocent.

We have all the facts before us and it is just to make up your mind of whom is guilty. Is it Lizzie? Someone unknown? Bridget or Emma maybe? I am bound to think it quite impossible that someone unknown could have come into the house and not been seen, and left without a trace. Most likely you would think Lizzie, but why were there not traces on her, or in the house, of the bloody deed? It seems impossible to have done such a thing without any traces ending up on your own body, or clothes or somewhere else in the house. Well, it is a true mystery.

This is a book for all persons interested in a murder mystery. Very well written and it keeps you enthralled to the very end. Have you read the book? What do you think?


  1. I've always been interested in a good murder mystery and when they are true it holds more resonance. This sounds terrific. Thanks for the recommendation.

    1. Yes, it is a great read. Keeps you thrilled all the way.