Most of Ann Rule's true crime books are located in the Pacific Northwest, but for "Bitter Harvest" she travels to Kansas to tell the story of a modern Medea who murders her children and poisons her straying husband. I saw the presentation of this case on Court TV, but this book goes into much more detail about the people who were involved in the marriage-from-hell that led to murder.
Ann Rule, a former policewoman writes about victims with a compassion that sometimes ventures over the border into cliché, but in this case, it is almost impossible to exaggerate the pathos and innocence of twelve-year-old Tim Farrar and his six-year-old sister, Kelly, or the ten-year-old Lissa who managed to survive the burning house by jumping from the garage roof.
On the other hand, it is almost impossible to feel any sympathy for the murderess, Dr. Debora Green. I really hate it when highly intelligent people turn to murder, especially those who use such horrible weapons as fire and poison. Really, Dr. Green should have been setting a good example for the majority of us who aren't geniuses. However, according to the author, this physician and mother of three had the emotional I.Q. of a two-year-old. When she didn't get her own way, she took to drinking, swearing, and beating herself with her fists. Highly intelligent or not, the arson investigators soon found the trail of accelerant that pointed directly to Debora's bedroom.
This is a thoroughly depressing story, but one of Ann Rule's best reporting jobs. For a change, the victims aren't beautiful but clueless young women who fall for the wrong man, and the killer isn't a sex-crazed sociopath. Dr. Green's case forced this author out of her usual writing rut, and the result is a fascinating look at a crime that is darker than most of us can imagine.
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