The Enigma Woman: The Death Sentence of Nellie May Madison

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2009-04-01
  • Publisher: Univ of Nebraska Pr
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"Crack shot." "Enigma woman." "Good with ponies and pistols." "A much-married woman." What if such an unconventional woman-and the press unanimously agreed that Nellie May Madison was indeed unconventional-were to get away with murder? Shortly after her husband's bullet-riddled body was found in the couple's Burbank apartment, police issued an all-points bulletin for the "beautiful, dark-haired widow." The ensuing drama unfolded with all the twists and turns of a noir crime novel. In this intriguing cultural history, Kathleen A. Cairns tells the tale of Nellie May Madison, the first woman on Death Row in California. Her story offers a glimpse into law and disorder in 1930s Los Angeles while bringing to life a remarkable character whose plight reflects on the status of women, the workings of the media and the judiciary system, and the stratification of society in her time. Cairns's re-creation of the case from murder to trial to aftermath also casts an eye forward to our own love-hate affair with celebrity crimes and our abiding ambivalence about domestic violence as a defence for murder.

Author Biography

Kathleen A. Cairns is a lecturer in the Department of History at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. She is the author of Front-Page Women Journalists, 1920–1950 (Nebraska 2003).

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. viii
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Prologuep. 1
A Girl from Montanap. 11
Midnight Alibip. 31
Outlaw Womanp. 45
Enigma Womanp. 59
The Ultimate Penaltyp. 77
The People v. Nellie Madisonp. 95
The Defensep. 115
Lady Macbethp. 133
The Verdictp. 145
A Condemned Womanp. 159
An Abused Womanp. 179
The Reprievep. 199
Life in Prisonp. 219
A Traditional Womanp. 241
Notesp. 249
Bibliographic Essayp. 269
Indexp. 289
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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