Simon & Schuster, Feb 2004, 25.00, 281 pp.
The Andrea Yates's murders of her five children and the subsequent trial are graphically described by Suzanne O'Malley, a reporter who followed the case for TV and magazines. Not fascinating in any sense as Ms. O'Malley does not hold back in her details and her interviews. Most readers will struggle to get past the explicit details of a mother drowning her children. However, what makes this true crime story that sounds more like a horror novel remain above the sensationalism is that the author makes the key players seem real and human. Andrea Yates does not come across as a maniacal psychopathic monster, but instead someone suffering from mental illness, court ruling on competence aside. Not easy to read due to the horror of the crimes, Ms. O'Malley makes the case as stated by a neurologist that Ms. Yates “fit the definition of legal insanity-even in Texas." This strong look at the psychological issues of mental illness that makes justice so difficult to insure provides more than a ghastly look at perhaps the most hideous personal crime of the decade.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner