Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Thursday, November 10, 2016


From the time I was a teenager I had an interest in the Lizzie Borden case.  The month I was born, Weird Tales published Robert Bloch's classic tale "Lizzie Borden Took an Ax."  In 1961 I read Edward D. Radin's persuasive (and Edgar-nominated) study Lizzie Borden:  the Untold Story.  (Interestingly, Lillian de la Torre called Radin "the soundest crime expert of our generation.")  I waited for months for a copy of Evan Hunter's Lizzie to be available at my local library.  I've sung along to the Chad Mitchell Trio's song many, many times.  I sat through an excruciating performance of the opera when it appeared on PBS.  (My interest in Lizzie Border has no relation to the fact that one of my six most favorite nieces is named Lizzie.)

A few weeks ago I read (and thoroughly enjoyed) Walter Satterthwait's latest novel New York Nocturne:  The Return of Miss Lizzie.  And so I thought it was time to reacquaint myself with Lillian de la Torre's marvelous play Goodbye, Miss Lizzie Borden.

Lillian de la Torre (1902-1993) was best known for her historical mysteries about Dr. Sam: Johnson -- 33 marvelous detective short stories (collected in four books) that helped usher in the historical detective story as a popular sub-genre.  Her 1955 book The Truth About Belle Guinness was nominated for an Edgar in  the Best Fact Crime category.  She also served as President of the Mystery Writers of America.

Goodbye, Miss Lizzie Borden was first aired as a radio play on CBS Radio's Suspense on October 4, 1955, featuring Irene Tedrow, Paula Winslowe, and Virginia Gregg.  It was later adapted as a television episode (as "The Older Sister") on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, with Carmen Matthews playing Lizzie.

Over the decades there have been many theories about who killed Andrew and Abby Borden on August 4, 1892 in their Fall River, Massachusetts, home.

Enjoy this one possible explanation by Miss de la Torre.

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