Hell's Half-Acre: The Untold Story of the Benders, a Serial Killer Family on the American Frontier


Product Details

$28.00  $26.04
Publish Date
6.2 X 9.1 X 1.5 inches | 1.2 pounds

Earn by promoting books

Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.

Become an affiliate

About the Author

Susan Jonusas attended the University of St Andrews and holds a master's in science, technology and medicine in history from Kings College London. During her master's she focused on the intersection between crime and technology in the nineteenth century. She was a bookseller, but now spends her free time on the archery range. This is her first book.


"Expertly told . . . [A] gripping true crime narrative.--Slate

Rich in historical perspective and graced by novelistic touches, grips the reader from first to last. . . . Jonusas discovered several further leads in official archives and correspondence, enough to transform "Hell's Half-Acre," at the halfway point, from a gothic popular history into a Wild West chase full of extraordinary developments."--Wall Street Journal

"Jonusas, who parsed archival records in order to craft this riveting reconstruction, is especially good at dismantling some of the most salacious rumors surrounding the Bender daughter, Kate."--The New York Times

An impressive and deeply unsettling account of the Benders . . . Radiant prose ("Creeks, dancing and clear, divide vast expanses of prairieland rolling toward the sky") enhances the page-turning narrative. The combination of true crime and a vivid depiction of frontier life earn this a spot on the shelf next to David Grann's Killers of the Flower Moon.--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"[Jonusas] ably captures the dangers involved in the westward trek that so many of the Benders' victims did not live to see through . . . it's a story that, grisly and unsolved, fascinates . . ."--Kirkus Reviews

"Dark and bloody, hard-nosed but lyrical, Hell's Half-Acre is a true-crime mass-murder mystery from the Old West. Susan Jonusas has stripped down a notorious story, researched it to hell and back, and rebuilt in prose so immediate and immersive that it feels like she must have been there. Beware the Benders, but all hail Susan Jonusas. This is a stunning debut from a great and powerful new voice in narrative non-fiction."--Dan Jones, New York Times bestselling author of The Templars and The Plantagenets

Hell's Half-Acre is a mesmerizing combination of gory mass murder and frantic pursuit of diabolical perpetrators, presented in some of the best, most atmospheric context I have ever read in any narrative nonfiction about the American frontier. This saga of the 'Bloody Benders' will keep you reading - and flinching - until the last page is turned. Then you'll want to read it all over again.--Jeff Guinn, author of The Last Gunfight: The Real Story of the Shootout at the O.K. Corral-And How It Changed the American West