109 Followers
3 Following
MelindaB

Reading Maketh a Full Man...

More to come...

Currently reading

The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature (Canto)
C.S. Lewis
Boys and Girls Learn Differently!: A Guide for Teachers and Parents
Michael Gurian, Terry Trueman, Patricia Henley
Ambition and Survival: Becoming a Poet
Christian Wiman
Deep River: The Life and Music of Robert Shaw
Keith C. Burris
Daring, Trusting Spirit
John De Gruchy
The Vatican Diaries: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Power, Personalities, and Politics at the Heart of the Catholic Church
John Thavis
The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia
Orlando Figes

The Devil's Rooming House: The True Story of America's Deadliest Female Serial Killer

The Devil's Rooming House: The True Story of America's Deadliest Female Serial Killer - M. William Phelps Have you ever seen the play "Arsenic and Old Lace"? Or perhaps the movie made from the play? I have always enjoyed the wacky and weird humor in the movie with Cary Grant. But I never realized that the play was based on the real murders committed by "Sister" Amy Archer-Gilligan. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amy_Archer-GilliganThis book documents the history behind probably one of the first (if not THE first) for profit nursing homes, and also one of the most deadly female serial killers. In 1907 Amy Archer and her husband James Archer opened a boarding house for the elderly called the "Archer Home for the Elderly and Infirm". The Archers contracted with the client (Amy called them inmates) to pay either $1000 for life-time care, or a monthly fee.Over the course of about 10 years there were 60 documented deaths in the Archer house. In 1910 James Archer died, providing much needed money for Amy to continue to run the Archer house since she had taken out a large insurance policy on him not long before his death. In 1913 Amy married again, this time to Michael Gilligan who was a wealthy widower. Their marriage lasted only 3 months before he was poisoned with arsenic by Amy.Many suspicious deaths occurred at the Archer House, but investigations were not really begun until Nellie Pierce pushed the district attorney and then the local newspaper to investigate the death of her brother, Franklin Andrews in 1916. Franklin evidently was in excellent health but died with only 1 day of illness of "gastric ulcers". After reading through his papers it was found that Amy had pressed him to give her a loan and he had refused. After investigations began, five bodies were exhumed (including Gilligan, Amy's 2nd husband, and Franklin Archer). All five were found to have died by either arsenic poisoning or strychnine. Amy was convicted in 1917 and sentenced to death. She appealed and was given a 2nd trial. She pleaded insanity and was found guilty of 2nd degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. She died of natural causes in 1962 while living out her sentence in a psychiatric prison hospital.This book is not really very well written. It jumps around a great deal between the "hot wave" of 1911 (http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/heat-wave-strikes-northeast ), providing local geography and history for Windsor, Connecticut , as well as what personal history is known of Sister Amy. All of these things are interesting and very relevant, but somehow the author is unable to make them flow. I was interested in the book primarily because of the facts it provided. I'll certainly never watch "Arsenic and Old Lace" in quite the same way anymore!