In Search of the Blonde Tigress: The Untold Story of Eleanor Jarman
by Silvia Pettem
SYNOPSIS – Beginning in 1933, Eleanor Jarman was sensationalized by the press as the “blonde tigress” and “the most dangerous woman alive.” But a closer look at her life shows that she was an otherwise ordinary woman who got caught up in a Chicago crime spree, then was convicted as an accomplice to murder and sent to prison. In 1940, Eleanor escaped and managed to live out her life as, perhaps, America’s longest-running female fugitive.
Following the murder of an elderly shopkeeper, readers are given a front-row seat for Eleanor’s arrest, trial, conviction, and sentencing—all documented with recently unearthed primary-source police records, court transcripts, and prison files—and her subsequent prison years. Woven in are comparisons and contrasts between Eleanor’s and her escape partner’s criminal histories, as well as speculation on their lives on the lam. Whether Eleanor deserved her sentence, or whether it was too harsh, is left for the reader to decide.
In Search of the Blonde Tigress sets the mystery and intrigue of this wanted woman into historic context. It also includes her family’s plea, in 1993, for Eleanor to come forward and apply for clemency. Most revealing at the time was Eleanor’s alias. With that information (and considering that Eleanor, born in 1901, is certainly now deceased), Silvia Pettem documents her search for Eleanor’s remains—right up to a visit to her likely grave.
MY THOUGHTS – I found this to be an interesting look at an old case about a woman who got caught up in a robbery/murder back in the 1930s. I noticed that she was born on my birthday in 1901. A unique story I felt was an engaging read. Back then justice could be beyond swift. From the murder on August 4th, to arrest on the 9th. The arraignment was on August 17th and the trial began just 11 days later on August 28th. They were convicted and sentenced on September 1st, 1933. But that is not the end for Eleanor the Blonde Tigress, more twists ensue. Lots of great pictures from the era.
PUBLISHER – Lyons Press – 264 pages
PUBLICATION DATE – May 15th, 2023
MY RATING – 5/5 STARS
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Silvia Pettem is a Colorado-based historical researcher, writer, and author. After local history research led her to the identification of a decades-old murder victim, Pettem switched from writing about history to the genre of true crime. Her latest book, In Search of the Blonde Tigress: The Untold Story of Eleanor Jarman, combines biography and prison reform in the 1930s with modern-day evidence that has helped to unravel a long-standing mystery.