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REVIEW: Triflers Need Not Apply by Camilla Bruce

Published: August 5th, 2021
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Historical Fiction, Thriller, Crime Fiction, Biographical Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Hardcover, Audiobook

Today I’m sharing my review for this brutal and brilliant novel. Thank you Michael Joseph for the gifted copy and Ceri for asking me to buddy read this one with her.



You’ve never met a woman as dangerous as Bella Sorensen . . .


1900, Chicago.

Bella Sorenson knows that the world is made for men.

They control everything: jobs, property, money. Marriage makes women like her their slaves.

But now Bella is fighting back.

Because she’s angry. She’s bloodthirsty. She’s willing to kill to get what she wants – starting with her husband.

And then her next husband. And the next one . . .



“They thought that was it, then-that I was safe and would not bite. That I would take my lesson and learn from it, be humble and meek and know my place… They never expected me to hold a grudge…”

Bella Sorenson was the original female serial killer.  As a big true crime junkie I had heard her name but knew little about her or her crimes and knew this was a book for me.  It had been languishing on my shelves ever since I received an ARC last year so I was delighted to finally get around to reading it as part of a buddy read with my lovely blogger friend Ceri. 

Brutal, bold and brilliant, author Camilla Bruce seamlessly blends fact with fiction to reimagine Bella’s story.  It is a dark character study of the life and psyche of the woman behind the sensational headlines while never making excuses for her crimes or shying away from the grim facts.  In the must-read author’s note at the end Bruce explains that the aim of this book was to try to understand what drove Bella to commit her crimes and I think she has achieved that, helping us see the nuances of her character, bond with her and even feel some sympathy for her.  She claimed my attention instantly and kept me hooked until the final page, taking me on a journey that spans multiple decades and two continents.  And while it is well researched and mindful of attention to detail, the author never allows it to become bogged down by them, instead being driven by the story and characters.

“She had been swallowed up by something else,  something dark with terrible jaws – like a wolf.” 

Bella is a terrifying character.  She is a woman fuelled by spite, anger and contempt with an unquenchable thirst for revenge.  I both loved and loathed this ruthless and remorseless killer who fails to understand why she shouldn’t hurt those she feels have wronged her.  And knowing she was a real person, that she existed and committed these crimes rather than being simply a creation of an author’s twisted imagination, made her all the more fearsome.  But despite all of this, Bruce manages to humanise her by exploring the pivotal moments of trauma in her life she can’t escape; the things that haunt her and helped shape her into a merciless killer. And while I never condoned her actions, I did have a lot of sympathy for some of the things she had endured. 

But Bella isn’t our only narrator.  Her older sister, Nellie, also shares her perspective.  She is the voice of empathy and a morally complex character whose dilemmas raise both tension and emotion.  I really enjoyed how Nellie provided another side to everything that happened, moved the story forward, and helped to create nuance in the story that would have otherwise been missing.  There was also a cast of compelling and richly drawn background characters who leapt from the pages and helped bring the whole tragic tale to life in vivid technicolour.

“I would rise, if only to spite.”

Captivating, suspenseful, devilishly dark and dripping with malice, Triflers Need Not Apply is a phenomenal story that thriller lovers and crime junkies will love. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5



Camilla Bruce is a Norwegian writer of speculative and historical fiction. She has a master’s degree in comparative literature and has co-run a small press that published dark fairy tales. Camilla currently lives in Trondheim with her son and cat.



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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

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