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Internal Combustion: The Story of a Marriage and a Murder in the Motor City | [Joyce Maynard]

Internal Combustion: The Story of a Marriage and a Murder in the Motor City

On Mother's Day night, 2004, award-winning fourth grade teacher Nancy Seaman left the Tudor home she shared with her husband of 32 years in the gated community of Farmington Hills, near Detroit, Michigan, and drove in a driving rain storm to Home Depot, to purchase a hatchet. Three days later, police discovered the mutilated body of Bob Seaman - a successful auto industry engineer, softball coach and passionate collector of vintage Mustangs - in the back of the family's Ford Explorer.
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Publisher's Summary

On Mother's Day night, 2004, award-winning fourth grade teacher Nancy Seaman left the Tudor home she shared with her husband of 32 years in the gated community of Farmington Hills, near Detroit, Michigan, and drove in a driving rain storm to Home Depot, to purchase a hatchet. Three days later, police discovered the mutilated body of Bob Seaman - a successful auto industry engineer, softball coach and passionate collector of vintage Mustangs - in the back of the family's Ford Explorer. As the shackles were placed on her wrists, Nancy Seaman asserted that her husband had been beating her, and she'd killed him in self-defense. At her trial, two radically different stories emerged.

One of the couple's sons, Greg, testified that his father had been abusing his mother for years. The other, Jeff, testified for the prosecution, charging his mother as a cold blooded killer. Joyce Maynard's chilling work delves beyond the events of the crime itself, to explore the lives of an American family who seemed to have everything. Her exploration of the story led to a year's research in suburban Detroit - but the story she found there will take the reader to the Depression-era farm country of Illinois, the working class neighborhoods of the auto industry in its heyday and even, surprisingly, to a Baptist church in burned-out downtown Detroit.

Along the way we meet a Transylvanian forensic pathologist, a beautiful young prosecutor, an old-school police chief, a television news crew hungry for ratings, the softball scorekeeper mom accused of carrying on an affair with the murdered man, and her two shell shocked teenagers, still reeling from the death of their beloved coach, and a mother who has to tell her daughter why her favorite teacher won't be in school any more. As in Joyce Maynard's previous books - including To Die For, based on a true crime, and her best-selling memoir, At Home in the World - Joyce Maynard's themes here involve family secrets, ...

©2006 Joyce Maynard; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

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  •  
    Kelley CA, United States 07-21-12
    Kelley CA, United States 07-21-12 Member Since 2006

    Lover of ideas who feels no guilt at all about her pleasures.

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    "There are no charmers here."

    A married school teacher drives to Home Depot on a rainy night and buys the hatchet she will soon use to kill her husband.

    Interesting story, right?

    No. It's actually really dull. I began listening to the audiobook because I wanted an answer to the question, "How do couples get to hatchet murder?". (I'm still not sure.)

    I kept listening to the audiobook to answer the question, "How and why did Joyce Maynard write such a lousy book." That, for me, became a much more interesting mystery.

    Here's what I think: Maynard knew fairly early on that she had no angle on the story and no affinity with the people involved, but she had bills to pay and was reluctant (as anyone would be) to eat all the time she'd spent researching with no payday. So she did what writers do - she put words on pages. What to include? Everything.Want to know what game the five year old daughter of the woman who now lives in the house where the murder was committed was playing when Maynard finally got the owners to agree to let her see the place? It's in there! Along with an account of every unreturned phone call and every interview request refused.

    And there are lots and lots of those. Virtually no one with anything to say about the murder wants to say it to Joyce Maynard.

    Desperate to convince people to open up, Maynard keeps sending the dittohead sportsfans she's trying to win over copies of her books. She wants them to believe (and to believe herself) that she will elevate their story with the power of her prose.

    "Get away from my Escapade," say the sportsfans. They suspect she might be an elitist, feminist, liberal*.

    And they're totally right.

    If Maynard can't see or comprehend that the car enthusiast, sportsfans she's writing about DON'T READ, there is no way in hell she could ever tell this story. I mean, she can forgive the hatchet murder thing, but "Faulkner who?" blinds her to their humanity.

    In other words, there is a class and culture disconnect in this book you can't believe. Maynard can make no judgment about anyone, or come down on any side, because she's judged everyone. She just can't admit it. She sounds like an earnest teen coming back from the retirement home saying, " Awwwww. Those old people were so sweet." She might as well be writing about Ewoks for all the depth and variation she's given them.

    But that's just me getting something off my chest.

    For the book, I thought it was dull-- all detail, no organizing prinicple or insight. Not captivating for either the characters or the deed. Go nowhere long.

    For the narration - Appropriately midwestern. Good, workman-like job that doesn't call attention to itself. I've no idea why anyone would have a problem with it.

    *Not that there's anything wrong with being an elitist, liberal, feminist- I do it all the time :-)

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dennis 08-07-11
    Dennis 08-07-11
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    "First Half Was Good"

    The first half was interesting, but the second half sounded like "blah-blah-blah" almost all the way though.
    Sounded like she had to stretch out the book to make it longer by talking about her frustration, and the trials and tribulations of getting anyone to talk to her.
    Boring

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. P. Thompson Portland, OR 01-10-12
    A. P. Thompson Portland, OR 01-10-12 Member Since 2009
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    "A "reporter" injects herself into the story"

    This book was a real disappointment. The cause is clear: Maynard couldn't scrape enough information together to write a real book about the Seaman murder through her reporting, so she pads the book shamelessly by injecting herself into the story. The book becomes a tale about how no one will talk to poor old Joyce, who plods from rejection to rejection while relentlessly comparing her crazy behavior during her own divorce to the murderous impulses of Nancy Seaman.

    A less egotistical author would have pulled the plug on the endeavor once realizing she didn't have enough information to fill a book, or at least switch gears and use her work to write a long article for some magazine. Sometimes things just don't work out. Maynard instead chose to waste our time in the mistaken belief that a description of her reporting process and own emotional state is what people really want to read about, or have any interest in.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    L. Dunnett S. F. Bay Area 11-17-12
    L. Dunnett S. F. Bay Area 11-17-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Save your money"
    Any additional comments?

     Interesting subject matter, but poorly written and horribly read.  Too much self injection on the part of the author.   The reader sounded as though she was speed reading the material to herself for the first time . . . rushed and lacking proper intonation.  Big disappointment!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jaye GREENWICH, CT, United States 06-01-12
    jaye GREENWICH, CT, United States 06-01-12 Member Since 2012

    AUDIBLE MAKES READING POSSIBLE AND EASY FOR ME...I AM VISUALLY IMPAIRED. I WISH THEY HAD ALL THE BOOKS I WANT I WOULD SNAP THEM UP!

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    "too much "white noise""
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    ok. the story was ok but too much time spent on talking about how the author could not get in touch with this person or that. or mentioning the fact the convicted person, nancy, did not answer calls at least five times.

    just tell the story of the murder and the family relationships. all the other stuff is white noise.


    What other book might you compare Internal Combustion to and why?

    i don't know. i never read a book where the author spent so much time talking about the research. meeting this person or that instead of talking about WHAT the result of the conversation was only. i found this to be boring.


    What three words best describe Janey Ivey’s voice?

    way too fast.


    Do you think Internal Combustion needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    i would like to read a book where the story was told about the story of the family only, not how the author was catching planes or going here or there. it ois not supposed to be about the author.


    Any additional comments?

    this could have been an interesting story. or at least more interesting with out the unnecessary details about research. ann rule never does books were she talks so much about her actual part in writing the story. if the author left her unnecessary remarks aboiut meeting this or that person for coffee it would have been a great book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bruce Waldoboro, ME, United States 04-12-12
    Bruce Waldoboro, ME, United States 04-12-12 Member Since 2006
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    "Narrator Killed the Story"

    This book deserves a better narrator!

    Janey Ivey sounds like she is reading from one of those horizontally scrolling banners one sees at the bottom of television news shows, complete with hesitations, mispronounciations and misplaced emphasis as she waits for the next syllable to appear before her. Add to that her attempts to 'brighten' her narration with forced enthusiasm as she describes towns, celebrations and such...it sounds like she is reading a children's book rather than the story of a murder.

    The story itself was interesting, but it was too much to bear listening to it poorly read as I was trying to concentrate on my long highway drive. As it was written this was a somber account, but this version didn't flow well and I couldn't settle into the story. It was simply too hard to mentally edit what I was hearing so that it made sense and drive at the same time. I think I will download the printed version and 're-read' it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Frederiek
    Nieuwerkerk aan den IJssel, Netherlands
    4/3/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "This was no Agatha Christie novel"
    If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

    In the end the book became tedious. I made it to the end, but don't think I really enjoyed this book, although the beginning was more interesting.


    If you’ve listened to books by Joyce Maynard before, how does this one compare?

    I read almost every book of Joyce Maynard, but this was my first audiobook, though I have downloaded all of them. They are still waiting to be listened to.


    How could the performance have been better?

    The narrator sometimes had a voice like fingernails being scraped down a blackboard. Also she sometimes forgot to breathe in between sentences.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    I was a bit disappointed by the story. I prefer her books: After her, The good daughters, To die for and Labor Day


    Any additional comments?

    My favourite audiobook The lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan was not surpassed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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