Everybody knew Velma Barfield as the perfect wife and a loving grandmother. But there was something about her that nobody knew.... Velma Barfield had a secret life and a sick urge to kill.
©1998 Jerry Bledsoe (P)2015 ListenUp Production, LLC
"Fast-paced...breathes new life into the true crime genre." (Raleigh News & Observer)
"Bledsoe has written a detailed account of Barfield's troubled life and motives...holds the reader's interest with a true story that reads like a novel." (Library Journal)
"Undertakes to answer the questions about the justice system and the motives that drive women to kill." (Washington Post Book World)
I thought I was a staunch proponent of the death penalty. Surprised to find myself somewhat questioning the validity of that belief.
Kevin Stillwell is a masterful narrator. Mr. Bledsoe is an easy writer to follow and have read and listened to a number of his books. These two together are a winning combination.
Yes and no. Yes because I simply cannot believe how Velma Barfield so manipulated everyone whilst incarcerated that the victims became almost by-products! Unbelievable! No because if you are not a religious person, you will feel as rankled as I.
He could have lightened up on the "sainthood" of this murderer.
The reading was fine.
If it moved me, it moved me in a direction not intended by the author. It was the near vilification of the victims and their families!
By book's end the reader was supposed to be convinced that Velma was a saint. The horrible deaths she inflicted upon those she supposedly loved, all the while being righteous, was...really not important. What seemed important to the author was that she had "gotten religion" ... who on death row does not?To tell the truth I was outraged on behalf of the victims and their families. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. This woman was such a manipulator that she had sold even the defense attorneys on her sainthood. But since there were no drugs to be had, and no one to murder while in prison, what choice did she have? The only viable point is the knot on her head...studies are being done still, to this day, to prove that that area of the brain can cause this type of behavior. But the knot on her head was still there when she was in prison. I think the sickening amount of religious propaganda and the lack of attempting to be in the shoes of the victims and their families...well, I'd have to think 10 times before reading another book by this author. The writing was just fine, but it was not...by any means, without prejudice, in my opinion.What I did get from the book was that this woman was the master manipulator of all time.
I cannot think of anyone who would enjoy this book. It was completely devoid of any suspense or substance. The plot, if there was one, was weak at best. It went on and on, saying the same thing over and over. It was like watching paint dry.
Kevin Stillwell reminded me of Mr Rogers, as though he was reading to 8 year olds.
This book had no redeeming qualities. For the few chapters it seemed like something of interest might happen, but it took eight or so chapters for it to pick up slightly, and then quickly fell right back down to yet more humdrum. It was a total waste of time. Of course, I did not finish this book.
This book got old really fast. This obvious and eventual admitted serial killer deserved the death penalty and the author did everything in his power to pull the sympathy card. Oh no, this is a woman, this is a grandmother, this just should not happen. Let's not worry about all of her victims that she killed. Let's leave about 10 pages to address that problem. This woman killed to make sure she got her drugs, not her "medicine". Call it what it is, stop trying to cover it up with made up childhood issues and religious redemption. She's dead and that's as it should be and I hope it gives some relief to the families of all of her victims.
Good story! Unbelievable how her children stood by her through all the years, but they should have allowed her to face her own consequences...had they left her in jail on her 1st check fraud, she would have had to get off drugs. It's called tough love!
She deserved the death penalty after her sentence...without all the expense of delays. I don't believe she should have had her choice of last meal or all the helpful instructions on how she would die...she did not permit those choices to her many many victims.
She was like a spoiled child when she was on drugs, needed a spank not a cover-up. What a sad life...all because of drugs & alcohol! Hard to believe her children would ever consider either after she was gone.
I love the storytelling in this book, and the reader is perfect. It's a tragic story, and inclusion of details of the legal/political fight gave it a lot of depth. I do think it was a bit too long, especially trying to reinforce Velma's redemptive relationships in prison. Great book on crime and punishment, though.
This is the well-written true story of a southern woman who became a serial killer. While giving the impression that she lived a normal, if financially challenged life, she managed to poison five people. These were people who depended on her to take care of them. Instead she fed rat poison to each causing their death. Her own mother was one of the victims.
Interesting and well narrated .
I found this dragged on and on it could have been half the length and told the story.
It was also very one sided I felt as though I was being pummeled into being sympathetic towards Velma Barfield by the repetition of excuses for her behavior when in truth nothing exceptional ever happened. Her life maybe was not perfect but whose truly is? She made bad choices it should be remembered gave her victims no choice.
Narration was nasal and I guess not much to be done with this book but to plain read it which is what Kevin Stillwell did.
14 hours 43 minutes where 4 hours would have been enough.
"The trouble with true stories"
The trouble with true stories is that the writer is given his plot, for good or bad, as it happened. The history of Velma Barfield's life may simply not lend itself to a satisfying story. If every good tale needs a villain, we would expect Velma, the serial killer of this true story, to take on that role. And what we expect is for the villain to come to a satisfying defeat, bringing closure to the book. In the case of Death Sentence that all starts getting muddled up about halfway through: Velma is arrested, tried and sentenced to the capital punishment. We have reason to feel justice, resolution and closure. But, yet... the writer carries on. We have dozens of chapters to go in which our "villain" is now humanized, made to seem pitiful, pious and even noble. As the book closes we are left with a decidedly mixed feeling. Should we sympathise with a woman who poisoned her own mother (among many others)? Or should we feel vindication that a woman who becomes a paragon of caring whilst in prison, is herself then poisoned by the State? I spent the days after finishing this story wondering what to think. Ultimately it was muddied story, with no clear hero, and only a feeling of disappointment with the state of humankind in general at the end.
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