The Husband Poisoner: Suburban women who killed in post-World War II Sydney (Paperback)

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**Shortlisted for the 2021 Ned Kelly Award for True Crime**
Shocking real-life stories of murderous women who used rat poison to rid themselves of husbands and other inconvenient family members. For readers of compelling history and true crime, from critically acclaimed, award-winning author Tanya Bretherton.

After World War II, Sydney experienced a crime wave that was chillingly calculated. Discontent mixed with despair, greed with callous disregard. Women who had lost their wartime freedoms headed back into the kitchen with sinister intent and the household poison thallium, normally used to kill rats, was repurposed to kill husbands and other inconvenient family members.

Yvonne Fletcher disposed of two husbands. Caroline Grills cheerfully poisoned her stepmother, a family friend, her brother and his wife. Unlike arsenic or cyanide, thallium is colourless, odourless and tasteless; victims were misdiagnosed as insane malingerers or ill due to other reasons. And once one death was attributed to natural causes, it was all too easy for an aggrieved woman to kill again.

This is the story of a series of murders that struck at the very heart of domestic life. It's the tale of women who looked for deadly solutions to what they saw as impossible situations. The Husband Poisoner documents the reasons behind the choices these women made - and their terrible outcomes.

About the Author


Tanya Bretherton has a PhD in sociology with special interests in narrative life history and social history. She has published in the academic and public sphere for twenty years, and worked as a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Sydney for fifteen years. Dr Bretherton's specialty is converting detailed research into thought-provoking works which are accessible to a general readership. Currently she works as a freelance researcher and writer.

Her first book, The SuitcaseBaby, was shortlisted for the Ned Kelly Award, the Danger Prize and the Waverley Library 'Nib' Award. Her second book The Suicide Bride, was shortlisted for the Danger Prize and in 2020 she won the Danger Prize for The Killing Streets.

Praise For…


She brilliantly builds a complete picture of society at the time using her thorough social research. This book is Bretherton at her best.—@MERCSBOOKNOOK, NSW [PRINT], The Daily Telegraph, [AUDIENCE: 221,641, ASR: AUD 3,968]

Bretherton is an excellent story teller. Indeed, this book reads like good crime fiction with dialogue deployed to push the stories forward. From Yvonne Fletcher's disposal of two husbands to Caroline Grills and her four victims, the women are vivid. You can see their desperation, their motivation, their living conditions, their terrible taste in fashion and their wickedness.—[ONLINE] The Conversation

For lovers of true crime, this is a fascinating read.—NATIONAL [PRINT], The Weekly Times, [AUDIENCE: 50,808 ASR: AUD 1,823]

True crime and family drama collide in these shocking real-life stories—NATIONAL [PRINT], Law Society Journal, [AUDIENCE: 26,736, ASR: AUD 363]

The shocking true stories of women who used rat poison to rid themselves of their husbands and unwanted family members in Sydney in the 1940s.—NATIONAL [PRINT], Who Weekly, [AUDIENCE: 82,789, ASR: AUD 13,699]

[...] a lively, sometimes novelistic study.—Steven Carroll, VIC + NSW [PRINT], The Saturday Age, Sydney Morning Herald [AUDIENCE: 386,260, ASR: AUD 22,969]

[...] The Husband Poisoner manages to be an entertaining read because the crimes themselves are so utterly compelling.—Gideon Haigh, NATIONAL [PRINT], Weekend Australian, [AUDIENCE: 219,242, ASR: AUD 52,798]

The Husband Poisoner is a social history of Sydney from 1947 to the mid-1960s. It will give the reader a detailed understanding of the state of Sydney society at the end of the Second World War.—Michael McKernan, NSW, ACT [PRINT], Canberra Times, Toowoomba Chronicle (News Corp syndicate) [AUDIENCE: 39,748, ASR: AUD 19,201]


Product Details
ISBN: 9780733642456
ISBN-10: 0733642454
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Publication Date: June 21st, 2022
Pages: 320
Language: English