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Disturbed Ground Hardcover – June 21, 1994


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 415 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; 1st edition (June 21, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688097049
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688097042
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.8 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,813,752 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The story begins with Bert, a gentle, unassuming street person who mumbled to himself and talked to trees. He wasn't an alcoholic, but he hung out at a detox center in Sacramento, where a volunteer named Judy took an interest in him. Judy was overjoyed when she found a home for Bert with a silver-haired grandmother, Dorothea Puente, who ran a tidy boarding house in a blue-and-white Victorian. Little did Judy know that Puente (just one of the woman's many aliases) would soon become her obsession. By the end of the story, Bert has disappeared, and the cops are digging up seven corpses from the backyard of the boarding house. Author Carla Norton (Perfect Victim) skillfully unfolds the many-layered character of this classic Arsenic and Old Lac-style serial killer: "At the pinnacle of her fame and glory, Dorothea was like a junkie with a philanthropic habit... Everyone dipped into her pot and benefited from her largesse." She was ultimately tried on nine counts of murder, and sentenced to death. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In August 1993, Dorothea Puente of Sacramento, Calif., charged with nine murders, was found guilty of three, with the jury hung on the other six. Norton ( Perfect Victim ) masterfully portrays a white-haired, grandmotherly woman who, affecting compassion for her city's mentally ill, alcoholics and other down-and-outers, ran a model boardinghouse known for its cleanliness and good food. She was finally unmasked as a killer motivated by greed for the Social Security and disability checks of her boarders. Concern on the part of social workers and employees of a detox center for a sweet, mentally slow drifter helped reveal the horror, and seven bodies were eventually dug up from Puente's yard. The most striking thing about Norton's book, besides the incomprehensible verdict which found the jury able to agree on just three of the murders, is its illustration of the contention that U.S. jurisprudence is concerned with winning, not justice, in allowing the other six murders to remain unresolved. Puente is now serving a life sentence. Photos not seen by PW .
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

The details of her story are displayed very well.
gator
Just felt this book went on and on, got tired of it half way through.
debs
I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading true crime.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amy Aldrich on June 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
I picked this up on a whim walking through the library...I think I'm genetically disposed to be attracted to any book with the world diabolical in the title...this was an interesting case...I am, as always fascinated by people who are, for whatever reason, compelled to kill. The subject here was fascinating to me because I don't remember this case at all and it leaves me wondering what the heck I was doing at the time that I'd never heard of Dorthea Puente at all...but then I realized that for much of the time this case was on trial, I was living in National Parks and not really having access to a TV. While reading the book, it is painfully obvious that the person writing it was once a former writer for the Los Angeles Times as the entire thing read like a really, really, really long newspaper article...but still, it's packed with details of Dorthea's life, the victims, and the trial from start to finish...so one doesn't want for left out details. Overall a good read, but not quick...it took me three days to get through it all because it was fact dense and not as fluid as I might have liked.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By gator on September 22, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A true crime story that is almost hard to believe. This woman,described in the book, is really DISTURBED. First book by Carla Norton that I have read. The details of her story are displayed very well. I look forward to
reading another of her books!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mike C on September 13, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The facts and information offered in this book are great . I recommend this book to anyone wanting to know about this interesting, but sad case.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 14, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It kept me interested right up to the end, wondering what the jury was going to do. I couldn't put the book down.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on November 23, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Very Chilling.kept me on the edge of my seat.Very sad also .That old woman needed help too bad she didn't get it in time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Richard on October 23, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Certainly a good read and well written. The most disturbing part was she almost got away with it! Certainly a page turner, and makes me wonder how much we take for granted. Defintely insightful and disturbing at the same time. A sad ending for the nine victims and their families. The book also looks into Dorotheas very sad childhood which is pathetic and horrible in itself. This woman should have got a lot of help in her early development years but sadly, like so many children she was abused. This of course does not preclude her from sentencing. The old adage, do the crime - do the time must be adhered to!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By David Axelrod on January 2, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Interesting case but the book could have been at least 50 pages shorter. It really dragged on and on in many areas with the author paraphrasing the obvious time after time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Christine Westlake on May 30, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Written more as if this non-fiction was a novel it proved to be a truly fast moving read. Norton kept me engrossed until the very end.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews


More About the Author

Carla Norton is a novelist, journalist, and true crime writer. Her debut fiction, THE EDGE OF NORMAL, was a Thriller Award finalist and Royal Palm Literary Award Winner. The "high-octane" sequel, WHAT DOESN'T KILL HER, is coming in June.

Carla's first book, PERFECT VICTIM, was a true account of a shocking kidnapping case, and that story fuels her fiction. Carla covered the criminal's trial, then coauthored the book with the prosecutor. PERFECT VICTIM made the reading list for the FBI's Behavioral Sciences Unit and was a #1 New York Times bestseller.

In THE EDGE OF NORMAL, Carla morphs her true crime expertise into fast-paced fiction with an extraordinary heroine, Reeve LeClaire, a 22-year-old survivor of kidnapping and captivity.
*"A heart-pounding thrill ride that had me holding my breath to the end." Chevy Stevens
*"A perfect blend of literary style ... and edge-of-the-seat thriller." Jeffery Deaver

Reeve LeClaire returns in WHAT DOESN'T KILL HER: *A "sophisticated forensic thriller... with a brilliant heroine who takes recovery to a whole new level." J.T. Ellison
*A "high-octane sequel... a breathtaking climax... A nonstop thriller." Booklist (starred review)
*"A smart, tightly written, psychological thrill ride." Taylor Stevens

Carla also wrote DISTURBED GROUND, the true story of a Sacramento landlady who murdered her tenants and buried them in her garden. Carla covered the nine-murder-count trial, examining psychological issues and explaining forensic evidence.
*"Brilliant!" Ann Rule

When Carla is not writing books, she's writing hotheaded essays and really bad poetry. She also blogs monthly for AlgonquinRedux.com. You can find her on Goodreads, follow @CarlaJNorton on Twitter, and find Carla Norton: Novelist & True Crime Writer on Facebook. For more, please visit her website: CarlaNorton.com.

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