See What I Have Gone and Done
In this debut novel from Australian newcomer Schmidt, we are taken inside the delusional mind of accused 19th-century ax murderer Lizzie Borden and also witness the churning interior monologs of her older sister, Emma, and the Bordens' hapless Irish maid, Bridget. We get to inhabit another character as well: a potential hit man named Benjamin, lured in by the sisters' nefarious Uncle John. Schmidt employs some unusual word choices—animals "critter" instead of walk, lamplight "rages." Not surprisingly, the prose is rife with a creepy physicality, its imagery dwelling on skin, blood, fingernails, smells, etc., although readers are spared much of the actual crime's gruesomeness. The heated narrative contributes to the sense of simmering craziness permeating the Borden household. A historical time line of actual events is appended. What better subject for a psychological thriller than one of the most notorious murders in U.S. history, and the mysterious Benjamin adds color and suspense to what might otherwise be a well-worn tale? A fresh treatment of Lizzie Borden, highly recommended for mystery and true crime fans and others who like smart, edgy works.