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Fans of Ann Rule will find much to relish in Bitter Harvest, the tale of a brilliant Kansas physician who holds herself together well enough to put on a decent show for the outside world, but in the heart of her horror-struck family is a violent and baffling monster. She drinks, abuses drugs, spews invective, and even lights fires. At one point she learns from an Agatha Christie novel about a potent toxin contained in castor beans, and she starts poisoning her long-suffering husband. Yet until the final fire that consumes two of her children, they continue to love her and defend her to attackers. Rule tells the story with flair, conveying all of the heady feelings involved, but still the book has a flaw: Rule fails to understand the main character. When a psychiatrist testifies that the doctor is at a younger age than a toddler in her ability to process or sustain emotions, Rule writes, "That was a shocker. Could a woman with an IQ of 165 and a biting, facetious wit, a woman who had zipped through college and medical school, be a child emotionally?"Yes, she could. Bitter Harvest would've been a stronger book if Rule had shown us how. [via]