Ugly Prey by Emilie Le Beau Lucchesi

The sub-title of this non-fiction book is “An Innocent Woman and the Death Sentence that Scandalized Jazz Age Chicago.”  Unfortunately Chicago wasn’t scandalized when Sabella Nitti, and Italian immigrant, who spoke no English and showed every bit of the hard farming life she’d led was convicted of killing her husband, despite the lack of an identifiable body.  While she was described in the press as hideous and dirty, other women in Chicago – beautiful and able to hire competent defense attorneys – somehow managed to be acquitted despite obvious guilt.  This is a shocking – but not really – discussion of how gender, ethnicity, and class intersected with the American justice system. 

This doesn’t read like a textbook and was quite engrossing.  Also, two of the other women discussed in this book, Beulah Annan and Belva Gaertner became the primary characters in the story Broadway musical “Chicago.” 

Place a hold on this title.