Most criminals are great egoists and inordinately vain, but these two qualities are found to excess in murderers.In Murder and Its Motives F. Tennyson Jesse classifies murders into six categories (murder for gain, murder for revenge, murder for elimination, murder for jealousy, murder for the lust of killing, and murder from conviction). She then provides case studies by type: William Palmer (murder for gain, some 15 murders, 1850s), Constance Kent (murder for revenge, 1860; most recently covered in Kate Summerscale's The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher), the Querangals (murder for elimination, brother and sister disposal of spouses, 1881), Mary Eleanor Wheeler (murder for jealousy, killing of her lover's spouse and baby, 1890), Neill Cream (murder for lust of killing, numerous killings, 1892), and Orsini (murder for conviction, tried for an attempt on Emperor Napoleon III, 1858).
—F. Tennyson Jesse, Murder and Its Motives 11
This lucid and perceptive book is a must for anyone who wishes to construct convincing criminals in their fiction. Sadly, it is out of print. The 1952 edition is dedicated to three people, one of whom is Algonquin Round Table member Alexander Woollcott.
|F. Tennyson Jesse, from |
the Bookman, June 1914