Dangerous Dames and Murderous Moms
by David Kulczyk
Illustrations by Olaf Jens
According to all the sexist clichés, women are nurturers, not murderers. But women do kill … and when they do, the results are devastating.
A masterpiece of pure trashy tabloid fun, California’s Deadliest Women is the definitive guide to the murderesses of the Golden State, a horrifying compendium of women driven to kill by jealousy, greed, desperation, or their own inner demons.
California’s Deadliest Women presents 28 mini-tragedies — sardonic, tightly written profiles of some of the most ghastly crimes ever committed in California. Each lethal vignette presents a murderer’s early life, thecircumstances that drove her to murder, her detection, her punishment, and the aftermath of her terrible deeds, plus quirky, disturbing caricatures of the killers by artist Olaf Jens.
The murderers in California’s Deadliest Women aren’t passive instruments of male masterminds, like the women of the Manson Family. These are women who got their hands bloody, personally killing their victims, who often were their own husbands, lovers or children.
From Brynn Hartman, who killed her husband, comedian Phil Hartman, to chemist Larissa Shuster, who dissolved her husband in acid, to dominatirix Omaima Aree Nelson, who cooked and ate her husband, the killers profiled in California’s Deadliest Women show that the fairer sex can be as evil — and as deadly — as any man.
The stories in California’s Deadliest Women are shocking and lurid, but also filled with compassion for victim and murderer alike. There are no heroes in this book and no happy endings. The crimes are so bizarre, so puzzling, so corrupt, so disgusting, so gory, so inhumane and so despicable that they are unforgettable … and perversely fascinating and entertaining.
Audience: True crime readers, California history readers, and lovers of the bizarre.
About the Author: David Kulczyk (pronounced Coal-check) is a Sacramento-based crime historian. His
previous books include California Justice (2008), Death in California (2009) and California Fruits, Flakes and Nuts (2013), all available from Craven Street Books.
$14.95 ($18.95 Canada) • Trade Paperback •
6″ x 9″ • 140 pages
The Duel in California, 1847–1861
by Christopher Burchfield
In Gold Rush California, gunfighters weren’t outlaws or desperadoes — they were often prominent journalists, state legislators, governors, even the Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court. For the respectable gentlemen of the 1850s, honor or dishonor — and life or death — could be decided with a single shot.
Choose Your Weapon brings to life a now-forgotten time, when California was a raw new state with politics as violent as any banana republic. This was the Golden Age of dueling, when prominent citizens would settle their political and personal disputes with gunfire, according to the venerable law of the code duello.
In the heyday of dueling culture, men from all walks of life, from politicians to manual laborers, fought formal duels. Duels could be triggered by political battles to shape state government — or they could be fought over a woman or a personal slight. Braggarts often proved to be cowards on the field of honor, and many a quiet and peaceable man could shoot with deadly accuracy when reputation was at stake.
Choose Your Weapon documents every notable duel to have occurred in California, from the arrival of U.S. dueling culture with the first American settlers to the end of dueling’s popularity on the eve of the Civil War. Drawing from contemporary newspaper accounts, historian Christopher Burchfield ascertains all that can be known about California’s duels, and his evidence overturns many common beliefs about California’s dueling era.
Among Burchfield’s notable findings, he demonstrates that the most famous duel in California history, between Senator David C. Broderick and California Supreme Court Justice David Terry, was more about a personal slight than the future of slavery — and the duel was decided entirely by the deceptive hair trigger of a defective pistol.
An exemplary history of an exciting era, Choose Your Weapon is a must-read for fans of the Old West.
Audience: California and American history readers.
About the Author: Christopher Burchfield has been writing about Gold Rush history for more than 30 years for numerous magazines and newspapers, including The Californians, California Mining Journal, The California Territorial, California Highway Patrol, and Old West and True West magazines. Burchfield and his wife Genendal live in Chico, California.
$16.95 ($21.95 Canada) • Trade Paperback • 6″ x 9″ •
The Lives and Crimes of Folsom Prison’s Executed Men
By April Moore.
Ninety-three men were hanged at California’s Folsom State Prison from 1895 to 1937, when executions were transferred to the gas chamber at San Quentin. Folsom’s 93 is the first book to tell all of their stories, recounting long-forgotten tales of murder and swift justice, or, sometimes, swift injustice that hanged an innocent man.
Based on a treasury of historical information that has been hidden from the public for nearly 70 years, Folsom’s 93 presents the full stories of these 93 executed men — their origins, their crimes, the investigations that brought them to justice, their trials, and their deaths at the gallows. This wealth of previously unpublished historical detail gives a vivid view of the sociology of early 20th century crime and prison life.
A trip back in time to the hard-boiled early 20th-century California that inspired the novels of Dashiell Hammett, Folsom’s 93 gives a fascinating glimpse into the real-life world of yeggs, confidence swindlers, holdup men, quiet domestic tragedies, and senseless murder sprees that earned these men a date with the hangman. Illustrated throughout with authentic and haunting prison photographs of each of the 93 condemned men, Folsom’s 93 brings the crimes and punishments of a vanished era into sharp and realistic life.
Even hardened detectives were shaken by what they found at Fran’s Market in rural Fresno that night in 1980. Three young people lay in their own blood on the market’s concrete floor, executed by a merciless killer, while a fourth victim barely held on to life. Then a grim investigation became even grimmer when the evidence led to the man who ordered the killings — a convicted murderer already behind the walls of Folsom Prison.
Hands Through Stone reveals the true story behind the Fran’s Market murders and their psychopathic mastermind, Clarence Ray Allen, the last man executed in California. Written by James Ardaiz, one of the first investigators on the scene and the prosecutor who built the case against Allen, Hands Through Stone gives the reader an insider’s view of the tortuous, multi-year investigation that brought Allen to justice.
by David Kulczyk.
Introducing the victims and perpetrators responsible for California’s most notorious shootouts, lynchings, and assassinations, this account shows how homemade justice is never black-and-white. In relating these histories, this discussion also analyzes how and why Hollywood storylines almost always follow the same skewed and unrealistic arc in which the bad guys abuse the good guys, the good guy take the high road until the bad guy has gone too far, and the good guy picks off the bad guys, one by one, in an increasingly dramatic fashion.
Behind San Quentin’s Walls: The History of California’s Legendary Prison and Its Inmates, 1851–1900
by William B. Secrest
It’s one of the most famous prisons in American history, featured in count-less movies and novels. Its inmates have included such diverse characters as Charles Manson, Sirhan Sirhan, Eldridge Cleaver, Merle Haggard, and Neal Cassidy. San Quentin State Prison is an iconic symbol of California, yet few people today know the prison’s origins or colorful early history.
Noted Old West historian William B. Secrest uncovers the forgotten beginnings of San Quentin in Behind San Quentin’s Walls: The History of the Legendary Prison and Its Inmates, 1851-1900. Going back to original source material of public records and contemporary newspaper accounts, Secrest tells of San Quentin’s unlikely beginnings as a real estate scheme and its essential role in taming the lawless California of Gold Rush days.
Behind San Quentin’s Walls presents the history of San Quentin as a microcosm of the settlement of California. Planned during the wildest days of Barbary Coast anarchy and Vigilante Committee lynch law, the state prison at San Quentin was the new state’s first attempt to impose the rule of law on a violent frontier society. Featuring numerous citations from contemporary accounts, plus period photos, illustrations, newspaper clippings, and maps, Secrest chronicles the political calculations that created San Quentin; the outsize egos of the men who built it; the mismanagement and frequent escapes that marred San Quentin’s early years; and the notorious ruffians and cutthroats who were housed there.
Filled with exciting true stories of gunfights, brawls, prison riots, daring escapes, and intrepid manhunts, Behind San Quentin’s Walls is also a rip-roaring Wild West tale of how men and women with immense talent for both good and evil tamed a new state and each other. Behind San Quentin’s Walls is a bold mix of serious history and lively writing that no fan of Western history should miss.
True Crime / California History • BISAC TRU000000 / HIS036140
Over 200 Historic Photographs and Illustrations • Bibliography • Index
“It began as a training exercise. At 8:30 A.M. on Friday, January 12, 1979, Terry Mangan, the new chief of the Bellingham, Washington, Police Department, was alerted that two women students at Western Washington University were missing. Normally this meant that the lure of northern Washington state’s ski country had overwhelmed any thought of attending Friday classes. Young men and women periodically took long weekends without telling their friends or coworkers where they were going. It was hoped that the current situation would be the same, though Chief Mangan and his men had the “gut” feeling that this case was different, that something was much more seriously wrong.”
Subtitle: “How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law and Courtroom Procedure”
Using examples from actual cases, as well as fiction, movies and television, Books, Crooks, and Counselors answers real writers’ questions on over 160 separate topics, including: criminal and civil law; differences between federal, state, and Native American jurisdiction; legal aspects of police and private investigation; criminal sentencing, including the death penalty; wills and inheritances; legal terminology; and the written and unwritten codes that govern the public and private conduct of lawyers and judges.
Winner of the 2011 Agatha Award for Best Non-Fiction Book of the Year.
2012 Anthony and Macavity Nominee for Best Non-Fiction Book of the Year.
Street-Smart Lessons from a Veteran Patrolman
By Adam Plantinga
400 Things Cops Know shows police work on the inside, from the viewpoint of the regular cop on the beat — a profession that can range from rewarding to bizarre to terrifying, all within the course of a single eight-hour shift. Written by veteran police sergeant Adam Plantinga, 400 Things Cops Know brings the reader into life the way cops experience it — a life of danger, frustration, occasional triumph and plenty of grindingly hard routine work.
In a laconic, no-nonsense, dryly humorous style, Plantinga tells what he’s learned from 13 years as a patrolman, from the everyday to the exotic — how to know at a glance when a suspect is carrying a weapon or is going to attack, how to kick a door down, how to drive in a car chase without recklessly endangering the public, why you should always carry cigarettes, even if you don’t smoke (offering a smoke is the best way to lure a suicide to safety) and what to do if you find a severed limb (don’t put it on ice — you need to keep it dry).
400 Things Cops Know deglamorizes police work, showing the physical, psychological and emotional toll of the job. Plantinga shows what cops experience of death, the legal system, violence, prostitution, drug use, the social causes and consequences of crime, alcoholism and more.
Sometimes heartbreaking and often hilarious, 400 Things Cops Know is an eye-opening revelation of what life on the beat is really all about.