Mad Madame Lalaurie: New Orleans's Most Famous Murderess Revealed (True Crime) - Lorelei  Shannon, Victoria Cosner Love

This slim volume (144 pages) claims to reveal the complete truth about Delphine McCarty Lalaurie, one of the most infamous women in New Orleans' colorful history. Never mind that this seems unlikely in such a slim volume ... the fact is that the authors reach a number of conclusions that may or may not be accurate, and never bother to tell us how they got there.

Delphine Lalaurie was notorious in New Orleans for how badly her slaves were treated -- such that when seven of them are rescued from the Lalaurie house during a fire, their condition is so poor that even slave-holders are appalled.

Anyway, the information in this book is somewhat scanty, although there are translations of extant correspondence the authors saw in the Williams Research Center in New Orleans. The problem, as I see it, is that the authors set out with a conclusion in mind and only looked at evidence to support it. They cite works of fiction among their references, which is a little shocking ... and numerous secondary sources to boot. Much of what they write is contradicted by Madame Lalaurie, Mistress of the Haunted House -- a book that is *not* included in their bibliography, and which contains far more primary source research than the authors employed (e.g., photographic reproductions of documents like slave inventories, etc., that demonstrate that many of the Lalaurie slaves simply disappeared from the record).

No one will ever really know what happened to the majority of the disappearing slaves, but we do know that seven of them were in horrid condition, and that at least one of them (Benjamin) survived starvation and was subsequently sold again. Delphine Lalaurie lived in exile in Paris (she essentially escaped New Orleans ahead of a mob), and her remains are interred in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1.

The authors of this slim volume have not really done much but add their own twist to a legend and not shown how they got there at all. The writing was entertaining, and the photographs and illustrations they chose were well-curated But "complete truth" or "revelation"? Not so much.