Paperback / softback
October 5, 2021
60 b&w photos
9.00 Inches (US)
6.00 Inches (US)
.7 Pounds (US)
$20.00 USD, £16.00 GBP
v2.1 Reference

America's Femme Fatale

The Story of Serial Killer Belle Gunness

How does a Norwegian farm girl become an infamous American serial killer, responsible for upward of 40 murders? Born in rural Norway in 1859, "Belle" Storset Sorenson Gunness was constantly dealt bad hands in life—so she decided to take life into her own hands.

In America's Femme Fatale: The Story of Serial Killer Belle Gunness, Jane Simon Ammeson traces Gunness's path from a poor teenager rejected by a wealthy lover; to a new wife in Chicago, desperate to escape the poverty of her childhood and impatient for a child to love; to an ambitious, widowed landowner in La Porte, Indiana. Ammeson's careful research reveals how the young immigrant slowly turned into one of America's most dangerous serial killers, allegedly murdering husbands, lovers, and children, and, for a price, disposing of inconvenient corpses for others. Ammeson brings this shocking story to life, detailing the suspicious neighbors who were cowed into silence by Belle's intimidating personality, the culture of orphanages trafficking children and matrimonial agencies, the carnival atmosphere that exploded around the pile of bones found on Gunness's farm, and the sensational reporting that filled newspapers for months.

Perfect for true crime fans fascinated by the creation of a sociopathic serial killer, America's Femme Fatale will leave you entertained and looking over your shoulder.

About the Author

Ever since she asked for a magnifying glass when she was eight so she could start looking for clues, Jane Simon Ammeson has loved mysteries. She's now upped her game and writes historic true crime. She is the author of 15 books, including How to Murder Your Wealthy Lovers and Get Away With It: Money & Mayhem in the Gilded Age, Hauntings of the Underground Railroad, and Murders That Made Headlines: Crimes of Indiana. Her travel book, Lincoln Road Trips: The Back-Roads Guide to America's Favorite President, won the bronze in the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Awards.


"America's Femme Fatale is the detailed story of Belle Gunness, one of the nation's most prolific mass murderers. Ammeson recounts the horrific events with dry wit and corrects many errors found in previous accounts. Gunness stands out in an infamous crowd because she was a woman; she killed men, women and children rather than choosing from among one narrow section of victimology; and her murders seem to have been rooted in greed rather than lust, the serial killer's usual motive."—Keven McQueen, author of Murderous Acts: 100 Years of Crime in the Midwest, author of Murderous Acts: 100 Years of Crime in the Midwest

"Ammeson uses astute research and punchy prose to chronicle Belle's transformation from destitute farm girl to one of history's most egregious female serial killers. . . . Compact and captivating, this salacious tale of murderous greed during the early twentieth century will be devoured quickly by true-crime fans."—Michelle Ross, BOOKLIST / Amer Library Assn

"It's a mesmerizing cautionary tale I had to keep reading despite the late-night hour. . . . Ammeson writes narrative nonfiction with a sense of drama to propel us along the unbelievable."—Rita Kohn, NUVO

"Speaking of wild women, you'll be riveted by America's Femme Fatale. More than a century has gone since Belle Gunness killed her first victim and she didn't stop there. Belle went on to kill at least thirteen more people over the course of just twenty years. Money was involved, of course, and she had a little bit of help now and then, but what's creepiest about Belle are the circumstances of her death. And now you've gotta read the book..."—Terri Schlichenmeyer, Webb Weekly - The Bookworm Sez

9781684351596 : americas-femme-fatale-ammeson
Paperback / softback
208 Pages
$20.00 USD

Other Titles by Jane Simon Ammeson

Little Ohio

Jane Simon Ammeson
May 2023 - Indiana University Press
$28.00 USD - Paperback / softback

Lincoln Road Trip

Jane Simon Ammeson
Apr 2019 - Red Lightning Books
$15.00 USD - Paperback / softback
$60.00 USD - Hardback

How to Murder Your Wealthy Lovers and Get Away With It

Jane Simon Ammeson
Sep 2018 - Red Lightning Books
$17.00 USD - Paperback / softback

Other Titles in TRUE CRIME / Murder / Serial Killers

Murderous Acts

Keven McQueen
Oct 2021 - Indiana University Press
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Gone Fishing

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Sep 2021 - Mango Books
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Murder in Old Kentucky, Expanded and Revised Edition

Keven McQueen
Jul 2021 - Indiana University Press
$19.00 USD - Paperback / softback