In 1885, Minnie Wallace was accused of murdering her husband, the mayor of Emporia, Kansas. He was wealthy, she was 16 years old and they had only been married for about a month. Thus began Minnie’s long career as a con artist and husband killer, a career that is detailed in the true crime book, The Adventuress.
Minnie was born in New Orleans in 1869 and was raised to be, if not a courtesan, at least the consort of a wealthy man. Considered to be a real beauty, she was vain, selfish, coldblooded and quite a conniver. The first half of the book relates her murder trial, which became a cause célèbre throughout the country. The author provides a meticulous description of the legal wrangling using courtroom transcripts and newspaper articles from the period and provides some insightful portraits of the many people involved in the case.
The second half of the book recounts Minnie’s adventures later in life when she ran with a villainous crowd of grifters and con artists and made a career of seducing vulnerable men, leaving them financially ruined, dead or both.
Ms. McConnell, who has written several true crime books, does a nice job in recounting this little-known story of a 19th-century Black Widow. Recommended for historical true crime buffs or people interested in courtroom tales.
Check the WRL catalog for The Adventuress.