The 19th-Century Nurse Who Was Secretly a Serial Killer

“Jolly Jane” Toppan overcame a miserable Dickensian childhood to become a medical professional patients adored. She was also slowly murdering them one by one.

Read or listen to a short version of the story at Narratively as told by Mary Kay McBrayer, author of America’s First Female Serial Killer.


Mary Kay McBrayer is a contributing editor for Book Riot, where she co-host the literary fiction podcast, Novel Gazing, and writes their weekly horror newsletter, The Fright Stuff. If you want to hear her country mouse voice talk horror, you can also listen to the podcast she co-founded, in which they analyze horror movies, Everything Trying to Kill You. Mary Kay’s writing can also be found on HorrorDNA, Killer Horror Critic and Narratively.

If you enjoyed books such as In Cold Blood, Perfume, Alias Grace, or Devil in the White City, you will love reading America’s First Female Serial Killer: Jane Toppan and the Making of a Monster by Mary Kay McBrayer.

America's First Female Serial Killer by Mary Kay McBrayer

America’s First Female Serial Killer

Jane Toppan and the Making of a Monster

For readers who are fascinated by how serial killers are made. This book is for listeners of true crime podcasts and readers of both fiction and true crime nonfiction. It is for watchers of television shows like Deadly Women and Mindhunter, who are fascinated by how killers are made. It’s for self-conscious feminists, Americans trying to bootstrap themselves into success, and anyone who loves a vigilante beatdown, especially one gone off the rails.

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