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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
January 2023
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Book description

You've heard of Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy. But have you heard of Amy Archer-Gilligan? Or Belle Gunness? Or Nannie Doss? Women have committed some of the most disturbing serial killings ever seen in the United States. Yet scientific inquiry, criminal profiling, and public interest have focused more on their better-known male counterparts. As a result, female serial killers have been misunderstood, overlooked, and underestimated. In this riveting account, Dr. Marissa A. Harrison draws on original scientific research, various psychological perspectives, and richly detailed case studies to illuminate the stark differences between female and male serial killers' backgrounds, motives, and crimes. She also emphasizes the countless victims of this grisly phenomenon to capture the complexity and tragedy of serial murder. Meticulously weaving data-based evidence and insight with intimate storytelling, Just as Deadly reveals how and why these women murder—and why they often get away with it.


‘Dr Harrison has clearly demonstrated her expertise on female serial killers. Her seminal work will stand the test of time, scrutiny, and reliability. Her scholarship, insightful analysis, and penchant for detail make this book the best on the market. Excellent reading for those interested in why and how women become serial killers.’

Eric W. Hickey - author of Serial Murderers and their Victims, 7th Edition

‘Dr Harrison’s masterfully crafted book is a comprehensive, engaging, and thought-provoking insight into female serial homicide. Through the interesting case studies provided, the reader gets an in-depth understanding of the factors that can contribute to serial homicide in females.’

Clare S. Allely - author of The Psychology of Extreme Violence

‘Fascinating, ground-breaking, and long overdue. Harrison fills the inexcusable gap in the serial murder literature with her own original research on female killers, in what is sure to become a seminal work in criminology. A must-read.’

Patricia Pearson - author of When She Was Bad: How and Why Women Get Away with Murder and Wish You Were Here: A Murdered Girl, a Brother’s Grief and the Hunt for a Serial Killer

‘There are countless books on male serial killers but very little on female serial killers. Using a range of perspectives, Dr Harrison’s book corrects this deficiency and documents the similarities and differences between male and female killers. Highly accessible, extensively researched, and valuable to professional and lay reader alike.’

Frederick Toates - authors of Understanding Sexual Serial Killing

‘Just as Deadly: The Psychology of Female Serial Killers firmly establishes Dr Marissa Harrison as the preeminent authority on the female serial killer. As an evolutionary psychologist, Dr Harrison brings a much-needed perspective to understanding the inner workings of a subset of serial murderer who have been underacknowledged for centuries. To gain such insight, Dr Harrison compiled decades’ worth of data and discerned the who, what, when, where, why, and how related to female serial murderers by giving attention not only to their lives and crimes but also to the often misunderstood psychosocial and behavioral drives behind their motivation. Dr Harrison’s research proves how ill-equipped typologies are to classify female serial murderers, given that those systems were designed by men who were interested only in the mindset of the male serial sexual killer. Among other important findings, Dr Harrison draws an interesting distinction between the victim acquisition tactics of both genders: female serial murderers maintain a ‘gatherer’ style, while their male counterparts adhere to their ‘hunter’ nature. Just as Deadly is a welcome and necessary addition to the small but growing body of literature that scrutinizes age-old preconceptions about serial murder.’

Enzo Yaksic - author of Killer Data: Modern Perspectives on Serial Murder

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  • Chapter 3 - The Lives of Female Serial Killers
    pp 32-50


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