This incredible story is based on true events concerning young Betsy Roberts – how she was kidnapped, abused but survived America’s first serial killers – the evil Harpe brothers – how she outlived and ultimately profited using her wits and sheer determination.
Betsy Roberts, a young woman from Kentucky is brutally kidnapped by notorious outlaws Micajah and Wiley Harpe who abuse then exploit her. The novel describes how Betsy uses her wits and courage to survive, and then ultimately prosper despite the most appalling conditions and treatment she suffers, in the wilderness of late eighteenth century America. She gradually becomes tainted by the evil, murderous activities of the Harpe brothers who, amongst other things, use her as bait to lure travelers to their deaths. She does this under duress initially but later becomes indifferent, even to the extent of being a willing accomplice.
Part 2 of the novel describes her long, gruelling journey of escape to New York in the early eighteen hundreds. It covers how she became a key figure there, developing businesses, illicit and legal, and the family dynasty she establishes.
The story is an extraordinary and gripping tale of horrific violence, a kaleidoscope of extraordinary characters, settings and and yet also incredible willpower, survival instincts. Betsy ultimately becomes a strong, determined woman but also uses almost any means to achieve her ends.
N.G. Neville is the pseudonym or pen name of Geoff Burke and Nick Fisher, co-authors of ‘BETSY ROBERTS’ their first major novel. It was preceded by a shorter novel entitled ‘DEGENERATION The Story of Betsy Roberts’ which forms the first part of the full novel ‘BETSY ROBERTS’.
A sequel or more accurately prequel, a collection of short or not so short in some cases, stories will be published in 2021. It has a working title ‘DEATH and SALVATION’. Many of the amazing characters in ‘BETSY ROBERTS’ are present before they appear in the full novel. How they got to where they were in the novel forms a fascinating collection of truly extraordinary stories.
My thoughts: inspired by the real life Betsy Roberts, this novelised biography is packed full of details of her nefarious dealings and the trail of corpses left in her wake. From rural Kentucky to the high society of New York City, Betsy proves to be a ruthless and determined woman, whether surviving being kidnapped by two outlaws, to escaping justice, travelling cross country with her young son, and engineering her way to wealth and success, she doesn’t let anyone or anything get in her way. Including husbands.
I felt sorry for Betsy at first, with her murdered parents and having been kidnapped and treated brutally by the Harpe brothers. But instead of escaping them, she breaks them out of jail and goes on the run with them again. She’s so cold hearted and utterly without remorse, even murdering her own husbands to get her own way. While I can’t quite say I admire her, she is after all a murderer and criminal, she sounds like a force to be reckoned with, and her rags to riches tale should be encouraging – as long as you don’t go with the body count too.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.