Internal Combustion

In May 2004, Nancy Seaman, a respected fourth-grade teacher, bought an axe at Home Depot and killed her husband Bob, a retired auto executive. It was a gruesome slaying, one that shocked their wealthy Detroit neighborhood all the more because of Nancy’s defense: She claimed to have been a battered wife. But was that, in fact, true? Joyce Maynard stumbles with the crime details in Internal Combustion: She never lands a promised jail interview with Nancy Seaman and talks only with one of the couple’s two sons; she also depends heavily on interviews with one family friend. The result is less a gripping tale of murder than the disturbing history of an outwardly happy suburban family.

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