The Husband Poisoner: Suburban women who killed in post-World War II Sydney.
“Shocking real-life stories of murderous women who used rat poison to rid themselves of husbands and other inconvenient family members.”
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.
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 Suitcase Baby, 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.