Praise for Lethal Intent

“Shocking, sad, revealing, and deeply researched, this true account of the life and crimes of serial killer Aileen Wuornos will fascinate true-crime fans.”

—John Douglas, former Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, one of the first criminal profilers and best-selling author

“It’s not easy to find old-school journalism in true crime … yet with Lethal Intent, author Sue Russell proves how integrity, tenacity, brutal truth and honest reporting become essential components to what is a riveting—if not terrifying—narrative of America’s most hated ‘monster,’ Aileen Carol Wuornos. It’s not easy humanizing serial killers, but through an objective lens, clear and defined, Russell paints a graphic portrait of Wuornos’ evil intentions and rough life—a true page-turner, breathless, intense—but also important.”

—M. William Phelps, star of Investigation Discovery’s “Dark Minds,” author of Bad Girls

There have been many articles and even a movie on the Aileen Wournos case, but they all have to compare themselves to Sue Russell's benchmark book on this story. Lethal Intent is in’s 50 Best True Crime Books of All Time. Sue is a veteran journalist and her expertise shows in this very riveting and fascinating tale.  

—Robert Scott, national bestselling author of Shattered Innocence

Lethal Intent by Sue Russell is an incisive, thorough and accurate recounting of the life and crimes of the infamous female serial killer, Aileen Wournos. Russell’s captivating storytelling and superlative writing is crime journalism at its best.

—Diane Fanning, Edgar-nominated Author of Sleep My Darlings

Lethal Intent is the fascinating and captivating true story behind a thankfully rare ‘Monster’ made famous by Hollywood: female serial killer Aileen Wuornos.

—Caitlin Rother, New York Times-bestselling author, investigative journalist and author of Lost Girls

“What a book! It reads like a novel and every word is absolutely true. It's incredible. The story is astounding. I always find women serial killers absolutely fascinating. I’ll never be able to look at my wife the same way again.”

—Bill Handel, host, “The Bill Handel Show,” KFIAM-640 Radio, L.A. “The most listened to talk radio station in the U.S.”

We are a society that wants a clear motive behind crime, a pat answer to “why”—especially in the case of murder. And when a woman kills, it confounds our expectations, and triggers any number of gendered preconceptions. Who was Aileen Wuornos? A bad seed, a victim of men using her for sexual gratification, a mentally disturbed product of a violent and loveless upbringing who inevitably turned to violence herself, or a cold-blooded predator? Journalist Sue Russell’s deeply researched, multi-layered account of Wuornos’ sad, tawdry and violent life doesn’t provide easy answers. Nor should it. Russell warns readers that making her into a legend or a victim is a mistake. Instead, Russell shows us both the complexities and the paradoxes of one of the few women serial killers in our history.

—Cat Warren, author of What The Dog Knows: The Science and Wonder of Working Dogs

“Russell writes with empathy for killer and victims alike.”

Crime Magazine

THE Book to Read About Aileen Wuornos. For years I have put off reading a book about America’s most famous female serial killer Aileen Wuornos (although I admit I watched the movie Monster) because none of them piqued my interest. Then I was introduced to Lethal Intent by Sue Russell. Oh wow! I’m thrilled that I waited.


I can’t see cramming the life of Wournos into 200 or 300 pages. So when I saw a book containing 547 pages, I thought I’d give it a try. What causes a woman to kill seven men in cold blood? Was it mental illness? A product of an abusive, incestuous childhood? Or was Wournos just a “bad seed,” evil at birth?


Russell has done exhaustive research on Wournos in an effort to answer that question. Readers will be intrigued by the personal interviews with numerous family, friends, and acquaintances; a time spanning from her childhood days in Michigan to her Florida death row cell.

Sue Russell is a spectacular unbiased writer who has made every effort to answer the questions most asked about a case that has fascinated true crime fanatics from around the world.

—Kimberly Cantrell, True Crime Zine

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Editing/Writing Testimonials

It was my pleasure to work with Sue Russell on her acclaimed true-crime book, Lethal Intent. Thorough research, meticulous detail, and compelling narrative make her writing shine.  She’s a pro and it shows in every carefully wrought sentence and paragraph.  What an asset to the world of journalism.

—Michaela Hamilton, Editor in Chief, Citadel Press, Executive Editor, Kensington Books, Kensington Publishing Corp.

“Sue is, of course, a joy to work with, but far beyond that she’s a first-rate ‘digger’ and a fine writer. She also excels at tackling difficult concepts and presenting them clearly to a general audience…”

—Michael Todd, Former Online Editor, and

When I am in need of another pair of eyes to see my work afresh, I turn to Sue Russell. For my novel in progress, she gave me at least six pages of single spaced notes and a ton of email time.  She is articulate and imaginative, offering ideas to help me see my way into revisions. And afterward she responded with great patience and clarity to my emailed questions. I will turn to her again and I’ll be referring students and writer friends her way.

Barbara DeMarco-Barrett, author Pen on Fire

Sue is a veteran writer and editor who deeply cares, and who conveys solid research with warmth, humanity, and, when appropriate, charm and humor. I've seen her work on everything from cardiac care and fire science to celebrity moms and pet health. A woman for all seasons and a pleasure to work with. 

—Pat McNees, author, Changing Times, Changing Minds, 100 Years of Psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine

Over the two decades I worked with Sue Russell, I found her honesty and integrity to be well as her being a brilliant writer and editor. Her insights were valuable when I was working on Joan Collins, Portraits of a Star, and I expect to turn to her again on my next book. I can always count on her and I really trust her judgment.

—Eddie Sanderson, owner, Eddie Sanderson Photography

I endorse Sue wholeheartedly. She’s always a pleasure to work with and always delivers. A great writer and editor with great ideas, presented with humor, accuracy and insight. Hire her now!

—Martin Pearson, television documentary writer and producer

Sue Russell’s work is always professional, polished, and on target. Dependable is her middle name. A talented writer and also a highly experienced editor. She is highly recommended.

—Robert McGarvey, Principal, McGarvey’s Words

As a novice writer, I cannot emphasize enough, how important it was for me to see Sue very early in my endeavors. Easily one of the best decisions I could have made. She was able to provide insight, guidance, and best of all, motivation. Her recommendations have transformed the way I began my writing that transfer to the rest of my story. I find it easier to continue to write and develop my ideas with her tools at my side. I shudder to think what my story would look like had I not found Sue as early as I did. Bullet... dodged.

—Keith Buckley


(Note: Sue has been a ghostwriter for authors such as attorneys and physicians. Need help with your book? Email

Member: Author’s Guild and IRE


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True Crime Book Lists

Lethal Intent makes Business Insider’s list—created in response to the smash-hit crime podcast, “Serial”—‘11 True Crime Books You Should Read If You’re Obsessed with “Serial.”’


Lethal Intent Is #14 on the “25 Best True Crime Books” by Todd Jensen of, the top online forensic colleges site.


Lethal Intent Is #8 on Squidoo’s “Top Ten Best True Crime Books”
Lethal Intent is the true story of a female murderer who in fact led quite a sad life. The book not only describes the crimes of Aileen Wournos but also goes deep into her life, making us feel that we’re right there suffering along with her. In a way it’s almost understandable the way she ended up, although there are so many cases of abused people who have despite all harshness that life threw at them ended up differently than Aileen did. Still it is an interesting glimpse into her life from the start going into prostitution to the very end when she was executed via lethal injection. Also it is interesting purely from the point of view that there are fewer female criminals capable of murder than men.


Lethal Intent Is One of LitReactor’s “Truly Sinister, the Ten Best True Crime Books”
Why It’s The Best
It’s an unbiased and definitive account of one of the most mysterious serial killers of our time. Russell goes macro with Lethal Intent, giving Wuornos’ early life history all the way through her death, offering an unparalleled amount of context to these dreadful crimes.


Lethal Intent is one of’s “50 Best True Crime Books: Truth stranger—and scarier—than fiction” by National Book Critics Circle member Michelle Kerns.


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