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.