Friday, September 18, 2020

"Lawbreaking Ladies: 50 Remarkable Stories of Criminal Women Throughout History" - Erika Owen

As of late, I've been doing my share of rather heavy reading. So, when I got the chance to check out Erika Owen's "Lawbreaking Ladies: 50 Remarkable Stories of Criminal Women Throughout History" and it's rather light, entertaining cover, I couldn't resist the chance to do some lighter, more entertaining reading for a few days.

To be sure, "Lawbreaking Ladies" is a light read. Despite the potential heaviness of 50 stories about criminal women, Owen infuses the material with an almost tongue-in-cheek writing quality that keeps the material from ever becoming even remotely heavy.

The book is essentially divided into different categories of criminal behavior - from old school pirates to bootleggers to cold-blooded killers to gamblers, bootleggers, and fraudsters and more.

As is always true of these kinds of books, some tales are more enchanting than others. Additionally, there are times when Owen seems to be stretching the material for the sake of space rather than having an actual story to tell. However, Owen seems genuinely engaged by these stories and that keeps us, the readers, also engaged.

"Lawbreaking Ladies" does have an awful lot of writer's personality within its pages. This isn't simply a presentation of the black-and-white facts. There's no question that Owen inserts her own editorialized comments, observations, and flippant remarks throughout the book. At times, this is entertaining. Other times, you can't help but wish maybe she'd chill just a bit and let the story stand on its own.

If you're looking for hardcore tales, "Lawbreaking Ladies" isn't likely to keep you pleased. Even the chapter on rather cold-hearted killers is more entertaining than enraging. While Owen clearly understands the seriousness of these stories, quite often she's selected rather admirable women to be included here whose actions may have conflicted with the laws of the times but were also quite often more than a little admirable in the realm of badass women.

Truthfully, there's not much else to be said about "Lawbreaking Ladies." You can pretty much tell from the title alone if this book is going to resonate with you. If you're intrigued, Owen for the most part won't let you down. If you're instantly dismissive, then it's probably not for you and Owen doesn't really do anything unique enough with the material to change your mind.

If 1/2 stars were available, "Lawbreaking Ladies" would likely exist in the 3.5 realm for me. Alas, 1/2 stars are not available and I can't help but believe that Owen accomplishes with "Lawbreaking Ladies" exactly what she set out to do. For that reason, I'm inclined to boost the rating a 1/2 star and settle in at a comfy, entertaining 4-star read for this light, engaging, and informative collection from Erika Owen.

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