Every so often, when I'm sick of reading serious non-fiction and literary fiction, I go to my secret stash of my guilty favorite genre, true crime books. I'm talking mostly Ann Rule here, because her work seems to be a step above the average true crime book, where every woman murdered - no matter how plain looking she really was - is described as being "beautiful". I think someone has to have three eyes and two noses not to be dubbed as "beautiful". And only "beautiful" women - usually blonde - seem to be worth writing about, unless you're talking about a string of prostitute murders, where the victims come in any skin color and every age between 15 and 40. Anyway, Rule knew what she was doing when she wrote about murders most foul.
"Bitter Harvest", published in the late 1990's, breaks the mold a bit. Dr Debora Jones Green has been accused of murdering two of her three three young children in a house fire she set in her huge home in Prairie Village, Kansas. Green cannot be referred to as "beautiful", though, maybe she was in her youth, before her life began to fall apart. A hellish marriage, and unable to practice medicine due, mostly, to her own personality quirks, Debora Green's life has collapsed by the time she was 40. She began taking drugs, driving under the influence, fighting with her husband, and raising her children to have a healthy distaste for their father. Her husband wants a divorce and late one night, when she's at home with the three kids, the house burns. It's a huge fire; one child makes it out safely, but the other two are lost.
Ann Rule's are always well-written because she seemed to know what was important for the reader to know about the crime; before and after. She's a good at writing well-crafted descriptions of people, crime, and punishment. She's not a wordy writer, though many of her books are over 400 pages in length. "Bitter Harvest" takes the reader through psychology of Dr Debora Green's mind as she erupts in rages and manipulates those around her. Was she mistreated as a very small child? I suppose we'll never know, but Ann Rule's book is a good story for a bad-weather day.