One of the most looked at, mulled over, and inconclusive murder mysteries in America are the Borden murders of 1892. Two people were brutally murdered, probably by an ax or some other sharp object on the morning of August 4th in the small town of Fall River, Massachusetts.
The body of Andrew Borden was the first discovered, by his daughter, Lizzie. After she called for the maid and others in the area heard her distress and came to see what was going on, his gruesomely hacked head was seen lying on a sofa in the front parlor. It took some time before Abby Borden, Lizzie’s step-mother for most of her life, was found also brutally murdered in an upstairs guest bedroom, half hidden due to the fact she was partially under the bed.
With this double murder, the sleepy town of Fall River woke up, in a big way. The story soon was being carried all over the East coast. Who could have done these horrible deeds? The police soon began to suspect Lizzie, the spinster daughter living at home with her father and step-mother. The eldest daughter, Emma, had been off visiting friends.
The Borden Murders: Lizzie Borden and the Trial of the Century by Sarah Miller is a fascinating look at the events of the day of the murders as well as all the things that led to the eventual trial of Lizzie Borden for the murders of her parents. Many of the myths and stories surrounding Lizzie Borden are delved into by the author and most of them come up empty. Miller looks at the transcripts from the trial, reviewed the newspapers and searched out every lead she could for this book. Having read a book not long ago called Sweet Madness – a fictional account of the murders as told by the maid in the house – I realize that the authors of that book relied heavily on the myths and legends surrounding the case, rather than seeking out the facts. Of course, that can make it much more interesting reading for a fiction book, however, because the Borden case still confounds most who make a study of it, the reality is quite exciting enough for me.
Truly, this is a book that will keep you engrossed from the beginning to the end, and will leave with many more questions. If Lizzie did kill her parents, how on earth did she do it, and if she didn’t, then who did? The world may never know for sure.
Recommended for mature 7th graders and up.