Triflers Need Not Apply

Triflers Need Not Apply

by Camilla Bruce

4 out of 5

Early in life Bella Sorensen discovers the world is made only for men. They own everything: jobs, property, wives. But Bella understands what few others do: where women are concerned, men are weak.

A woman unhampered by scruples can take from them what she wants. And so Bella sets out to prove to the world that a woman can be just as ruthless, black-hearted and single-minded as any man.

Starting with her long suffering husband, Mads, Bella embarks on a killing spree the like of which has never been seen before nor since.

And through it all her kind, older sister Nellie can only watch in horror as Bella's schemes to enrich herself and cut down the male population come to a glorious, dreadful fruition . . .

Based on the true story of Belle Gunness whose murderous rampage began in Chicago in 1900, Triflers Need Not Apply is a novelistic tour de force exploring one woman's determination to pay men back for all they have taken.

Bella is almost killed by her lover, but is driven by pure spite to survive. Her survival instinct will see her cross continents and defy the expectations of society.

I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Little Brynhild grew up as a lowly tenant's daughter on a farm in Norway. All she has ever known is hunger, poverty, and constant hard work. Her fortune seems to change when she catches the eye of the rich farmer's son Anders - but he is not the charming prince she thought.

This book reimagines the life of infamous serial killer Belle Sorenson, and as such has some very dark and shocking moments.
For the most part, though, it follows Brynhild's life, as she moves to America, with the help of her sister and brother-in-law. She takes on the name Bella, as it's easier for Americans to pronounce.
Bella may be a little on the odd side, but there is nothing unnatural about what she wants from life, and in the beginning, it's hard to see how the character becomes so extreme.
But the author does a great job of creating a believable change into becoming a murderer.
I thought the way Bella was portrayed... she never (except for one or two moments) becomes a monster. Which I think made it all the more terrifying, that you can relate to most of a murderer's thoughts and drive. She is never truly unlikeable.

The narrative is split between Bella and her sister Nellie.
Nellie's life is such a modest contrast to Bella. She moved to America, but never moved away from the Norwegian community. She never learnt English, and she has no drive or ambition, beyond caring for her husband and children.
When Bella lived with her sister, it showed the harsh light of life for women, and the best they could expect. They are supposed to keep their heads down, accept any male attention, and be grateful for their small lives.
Nellie's chapters weren't really about Nellie though. For the most part, it solely focussed on Bella, giving an extra viewpoint of how Bella's life is progressing.

I thought there were lags in the pacing, in the middle and towards the end.
Bits felt like they were getting repetitive. Which is understandable - the book covers the whole of Bella's life - not all of it is newsworthy.
And after the shock of the first murders in the second half of the book, Bella's murderous routine gets a bit samey. Which I can't believe I've just written about a serial killer...

Anyway, this was an interesting look into a disturbed person, and had some very powerful moments.
It kept me hooked throughout, and I look forward to reading more of the author's work.


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