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THE MURDERESS MUST DIE

On a winter day in 1898, spectators gather at a Brooklyn courthouse, scrambling for a view of the woman they label a murderess. Martha Place has been charged with throwing acid in her stepdaughter’s face, hitting her with an axe, and suffocating her with a pillow. The crowd will not know for a year that the alleged murderess becomes the first woman in the world to be executed in the electric chair. None of her lawyers can save her from a guilty verdict, and the governor of New York, Theodore Roosevelt, refuses to grant her clemency. Was Martha Place a wicked stepmother, an abused wife, or an insane killer? Was her stepdaughter a tragic victim? We have heard only from those who abused and condemned Martha Place. Speaking from the grave she tells her own story. At the juncture of true crime and fiction, The Murderess Must Die is based on an actual crime. What was reported, though, was only half the story.

PRAISE

A true crime story.  But in this case, the crime resides in the punishment. Martha Place was the first woman to die in the electric chair: Sing Sing, March 20, 1899.  In this gorgeously written narrative, told in the first-person by Martha and by those who played a part in her life, Marlie Parker Wasserman shows us the (appalling) facts of fin-de-siècle justice.  More, she lets us into the mind of Martha Place, and finally, into the heart.  Beautifully observed period detail and astute psychological acuity combine to tell us Martha's story, at once dark and illuminating.  The Murderess Must Die accomplishes that rare feat: it entertains, even as it haunts.

Howard A. Rodman, author of The Great Eastern

 

The first woman to be executed by electric chair in 1899, Martha Place, speaks to us in Wasserman's poignant debut novel. The narrative travels the course of Place's life describing her desperation in a time when there were few opportunities for women to make a living. Tracing events before and after the murder of her step-daughter Ida, in lean, straightforward prose, it delivers a compelling feminist message: could an entirely male justice system possibly realize the frightful trauma of this woman's life? This true-crime novel does more--it transcends the painful retelling of Place's life to expand our conception of the death penalty. Although convicted of a heinous crime, Place's personal tragedies and pitiful end are inextricably intertwined.

Nev March, author of Edgar-nominated Murder in Old Bombay

 

 

The Murderess Must Die would be a fascinating read even without its central elements of crime and punishment.  Marlie Parker Wasserman gets inside the heads of a wide cast of late nineteenth century Americans and lets them tell their stories in their own words.  It’s another world, both alien and similar to ours. You can almost hear the bells of the streetcars.

Edward Zuckerman, author of Small Fortunes and The Day After World War Three, Emmy-winning writer-producer of Law & Order

THE MURDERESS MUST DIE gives Martha Place a voice. By allowing her to speak and give her own perception of events, we're given another view of the woman. Well-researched and eminently readable, THE MURDERESS MUST DIE is an engrossing tale of a woman determined to make a better life for herself, no matter the cost.   --Cozy Up with Kathy Blog

With top-notch writing, painstakingly detailed research, and authentic prose, THE MURDERESS MUST DIE is a fascinating historical true crime novel I can wholeheartedly recommend.  --Novels Alive Book Blog 

This is by far the best book I have read in 2021! Based on a true story, I had never heard of Mattie Place prior to reading this book. I loved all the varying voices telling the exact same story. It was unique and fresh and so wonderfully deep. I had a very hard time putting the book down until I was finished! It isn't often that an author makes me feel for the murderess but I did. I connected deeply with all of the people in this book, and I do believe it will stay with me for a very long time.
This is a fictionalized version of the murder of Ida Place but it read as if the author Marlie Parker Wasserman was a bystander to the actual events. I very highly recommend this book. --Jill, Amazon reviews

The author did an amazing job in using her primary resources to investigate the life, the murder, the trial, and subsequent end to the life of real-life person, Martha (Mattie) Place. From this point, I shall tell you that Mattie was the first women ever to die by electric chair. This is not a spoiler but a fact and the premise of the entire book. So, at this point dear readers, you may think that I loved the book. I did give it five stars after all.

The truth of the matter is...no, I hated it! I hated it so much I kept reading it. I read it because it was a great book but in the same manner I loathed it, the tragedy of it disgusted me. 
Mattie's story unfolds in first person accounts that waver back and forth throughout the book. (Again, this is the brilliance of the book.) Details are revealed that may have helped Mattie in her tragic story but again, may not have. Some of these accounts are fill-ins and possibilities of different outcomes but in any case, still leads to one conclusion. None-the-less, it makes readers ponder, maybe feel for her, and want to discuss her, just as the papers did to sensationalize her in the 1800's. --Naila Moon, Amazon review

Based on a true crime, Wasserman’s flawless writing makes it difficult to tell the historical from the fiction. The Murderess Must Die is an engrossing read I highly recommend  --Felicia Denise, Amazon review

In THE MURDERESS MUST DIE, the author provides a riveting story that easily draws the reader into Martha's story. You can't help but get drawn into this complicated, fascinating, and multi-layered story. From the true crime aspect, I couldn't help but Google Martha Place on Wikipedia, which provided the accuracy of the case that the author depicted in her book, while interweaving the historical fiction aspect of Martha's own voice from the grave. This is a compelling story that narrates Martha's difficult life story, and the subservient place women held in the 1890s male dominated society and criminal justice system.  --Jersey Girl Book Reviews

Perfect prose. The transition from one character to the next was so smooth. . . . Not all books have the ability to truly make you FEEL something.

While her crimes were heinous, the reader is provided with enough background to also feel compassion for The Murderess.

I highly recommend this book. It’s very insightful. A very easy read once you sink into the writing style. If you’re into books with lots of perspectives & points of view then you’ll probably want to check this one out.  --Jessica Adolpho, Goodreads

I found this book wholly thought provoking and exciting from start to finish.

The way Wasserman wrote this book in multiple POVs allows the reader to view the event from different perspectives and also allows the reader to see all “sides” of the story. It potentially allows you to come to your own conclusions about what really happened.

The historical fiction is based more heavily in history, and while I loved the writing, what happened to Martha Place was horrible. Thrown to the wolves in a legal system run by men, incompetent lawyers bumbling their way through, and newspapers sensationalizing and vilifying her, Place was doomed from the start. Not to say she didn’t deserve some kind of punishment for her crimes, but maybe it was overkill?

I would strongly say this book is definitely a must read for fans of historical fiction, true crime, and women’s studies alike.  --Janelle, Amazon review

It is a dark and disturbing topic to take on, but the author gives us an unforgettable account of events. She takes us into the mind, if not the heart, not only of the accused but also witnesses to the crime.  --Laura, Goodreads

This book was constructed with care and was well crafted. It kept me reading. I wanted to know as much of the truth as I possibly could.  --E.A., Goodreads

 I give this book the 5 stars it deserves. It was unbelievably well written. The character development was impeccable. The book is historical fiction but more historical than fiction. The author did an amazing job in using her primary resources to investigate the life, the murder, the trial, and subsequent end to the life of real-life person, Martha (Mattie) Place.   --M.M. Hudson, Goodreads

AMAZING 👏 I just read such an amazing masterpiece!!! I actually felt like I was there. The author did a fantastic job of making me feel for this murderess. Crazy!!! This woman's crimes were unfathomable, and the Author had the ability to write her back story so well that it would make it impossible to not feel som

THE MURDERESS MUST DIE gives Martha Place a voice. By allowing her to speak and give her own perception of events, we're given another view of the woman. Well-researched and eminently readable, THE MURDERESS MUST DIE is an engrossing tale of a woman determined to make a better life for herself, no matter the cost.   --Cozy Up with Kathy Blog

 

With top-notch writing, painstakingly detailed research, and authentic prose, THE MURDERESS MUST DIE is a fascinating historical true crime novel I can wholeheartedly recommend.  --Novels Alive Book Blog

 

This is by far the best book I have read in 2021! Based on a true story, I had never heard of Mattie Place prior to reading this book. I loved all the varying voices telling the exact same story. It was unique and fresh and so wonderfully deep. I had a very hard time putting the book down until I was finished! It isn't often that an author makes me feel for the murderess but I did. I connected deeply with all of the people in this book, and I do believe it will stay with me for a very long time.
This is a fictionalized version of the murder of Ida Place but it read as if the author Marlie Parker Wasserman was a bystander to the actual events. I very highly recommend this book. --Jill, Amazon reviews

 

The author did an amazing job in using her primary resources to investigate the life, the murder, the trial, and subsequent end to the life of real-life person, Martha (Mattie) Place. From this point, I shall tell you that Mattie was the first women ever to die by electric chair. This is not a spoiler but a fact and the premise of the entire book. So, at this point dear readers, you may think that I loved the book. I did give it five stars after all.


The truth of the matter is...no, I hated it! I hated it so much I kept reading it. I read it because it was a great book but in the same manner I loathed it, the tragedy of it disgusted me.

Mattie's story unfolds in first person accounts that waver back and forth throughout the book. (Again, this is the brilliance of the book.) Details are revealed that may have helped Mattie in her tragic story but again, may not have. Some of these accounts are fill-ins and possibilities of different outcomes but in any case, still leads to one conclusion. None-the-less, it makes readers ponder, maybe feel for her, and want to discuss her, just as the papers did to sensationalize her in the 1800's. --Naila Moon, Amazon review

 

Based on a true crime, Wasserman’s flawless writing makes it difficult to tell the historical from the fiction. The Murderess Must Die is an engrossing read I highly recommend  --Felicia Denise, Amazon review

 

In THE MURDERESS MUST DIE, the author provides a riveting story that easily draws the reader into Martha's story. You can't help but get drawn into this complicated, fascinating, and multi-layered story. From the true crime aspect, I couldn't help but Google Martha Place on Wikipedia, which provided the accuracy of the case that the author depicted in her book, while interweaving the historical fiction aspect of Martha's own voice from the grave. This is a compelling story that narrates Martha's difficult life story, and the subservient place women held in the 1890s male dominated society and criminal justice system.  --Jersey Girl Book Reviews

 

Perfect prose. The transition from one character to the next was so smooth. . . . Not all books have the ability to truly make you FEEL something.

While her crimes were heinous, the reader is provided with enough background to also feel compassion for The Murderess.

I highly recommend this book. It’s very insightful. A very easy read once you sink into the writing style. If you’re into books with lots of perspectives & points of view then you’ll probably want to check this one out.  --Jessica Adolpho, Goodreads

 

I found this book wholly thought provoking and exciting from start to finish.

The way Wasserman wrote this book in multiple POVs allows the reader to view the event from different perspectives and also allows the reader to see all “sides” of the story. It potentially allows you to come to your own conclusions about what really happened.

The historical fiction is based more heavily in history, and while I loved the writing, what happened to Martha Place was horrible. Thrown to the wolves in a legal system run by men, incompetent lawyers bumbling their way through, and newspapers sensationalizing and vilifying her, Place was doomed from the start. Not to say she didn’t deserve some kind of punishment for her crimes, but maybe it was overkill?

I would strongly say this book is definitely a must read for fans of historical fiction, true crime, and women’s studies alike.  --Janelle, Amazon review

 

It is a dark and disturbing topic to take on, but the author gives us an unforgettable account of events. She takes us into the mind, if not the heart, not only of the accused but also witnesses to the crime.  --Laura, Goodreads

 

This book was constructed with care and was well crafted. It kept me reading. I wanted to know as much of the truth as I possibly could.  --E.A., Goodreads

 

 I give this book the 5 stars it deserves. It was unbelievably well written. The character development was impeccable. The book is historical fiction but more historical than fiction. The author did an amazing job in using her primary resources to investigate the life, the murder, the trial, and subsequent end to the life of real-life person, Martha (Mattie) Place.   --M.M. Hudson, Goodreads

 

AMAZING 👏 I just read such an amazing masterpiece!!! I actually felt like I was there. The author did a fantastic job of making me feel for this murderess. Crazy!!! This woman's crimes were unfathomable, and the Author had the ability to write her back story so well that it would make it impossible to not feel something. I loved each perspective that was in this book. I love historical fiction, especially when it is based on true events! This was by far my favorite historical fiction this year!  --Angie Blocker, Goodreads

A woman with a difficult past who marries up and goes on trial for murder. Great story line, all the principal characters here give their accounts of Martha Place, first person narratives are always interesting because one sees the personality of the leading protagonist through many lenses. Based on true events, the author writes with style and conciseness and breathes life into the characters. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend highly. My thank to Netgalley, the publishers and the author for a fascinating read.  Carol Elizabeth Keogh, Goodreads

ething. I loved each perspective that was in this book. I love historical fiction, especially when it is based on true events! This was by far my favorite historical fiction this year!  --Angie Blocker, Goodreads
A woman with a difficult past who marries up and goes on trial for murder. Great story line, all the principal characters here give their accounts of Martha Place, first person narratives are always interesting because one sees the personality of the leading protagonist through many lenses. Based on true events, the author writes with style and conciseness and breathes life into the characters. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend highly. My thank to Netgalley, the publishers and the author for a fascinating read.  Carol Elizabeth Keogh, Goodreads

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