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The Secret Art of Poisoning
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How did a serial killer from the 19th century almost get away with murder? And what were the circumstances that led to two infamous poisoners in one family?

At the end of the 19th century, Martha Needle became known as ‘The Black Widow’ of the Richmond poisoning case after secretly poisoning her husband and children.

The Black Widow was a media sensation in her day, as infamous as Ned Kelly (even sharing the same lawyer). After poisoning her husband and two of her children, Needle became obsessed with the kind-hearted son of a Danish immigrant and began picking off his brothers one by one. Reported as far afield as the New York Times, Martha’s story was front page news in Australia, edging out many stories of the day that remain in the public consciousness today. And yet very few remember Martha Needle’s name.

Stranger still a generation later Martha Needle’s nephew Alexander Lee seemed to follow in his aunt’s footsteps when he poisoned his wife and three of his children.

What strange quirk of fate led these two relatives connected through family to commit virtually the same crime? And was their fate at the end of a rope the true end of the story?

This story explores these crimes and the social and historical context surrounding them.

RR Price: Paperback $29.99 ebook $4.99

Available in Adelaide at bookstores: Dymocks Adelaide and Glenelg, Readebooks Adelaide, Wakefield Press, Mostly Books Mitcham, the Maritime Museum and the Old Adelaide Gaol.

In Melbourne bookstores: Avenue Bookshop Richmond, Dymocks Richmond and Dymocks Collins St and Old Melbourne Gaol.

Book can be ordered direct from me (with Paypal payment) at:

Or Paperback available online here: Booktopia, Amazon, Book Depository, Google Books, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Foyles, Angus & Robertson, Wordery, etc

Available as an ebook:

Bookstores: the book can be ordered directly from Ingram Sparks or if in Adelaide, direct from me at:

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The Red Devil: The story of South Australian Aviation Pioneer Captain Harry Butler
(Parsons & Battams)

In the 1920s, Captain Harry Butler AFC returned to South Australia a war hero, bringing with him two aircraft and dreams of starting an industry which 100 years later is so commonplace it is hard to imagine the struggles of its infancy.

With his little crimson Bristol monoplane, dubbed the Red Devil, Captain Butler inspired many thousands as he put on aerial stunt shows in support of peace loan efforts, that helped to heal the deep scars of WW1. Butler was hailed as a top aviator, leaving a legacy that continues to this day, yet has been largely forgotten. Among Butler’s many accomplishments, he made the first airmail crossing over a significant body of water in the southern hemisphere. Butler set up with the famous engineer Harry Kauper the first passenger flight business in South Australia and established what became the first commonwealth government airport in Adelaide.  He was also a founding member of the SA Aero Club in 1919. This detailed biography explores Butler’s childhood in the tiny farming community of Minlaton where he was inspired by stories of early flight experimentation, his forceful ambition to get into pilot training in England, his role as a senior flight instructor in the Royal Flying Corps training 2700 pilots and the defence of England. The book also explores early postal history and the fate of The Red Devil monoplane, the last remaining aeroplane of its kind in the world.

The book was launched at the 100th anniversary celebrations of Harry Butler's flight from Adelaide to Minlaton, in Minlaton on the evening of the 3rd August 2019 and at the SA Aviation Museum 17th August 2019.

Published by Wakefield Press (2019) now available here

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