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Mother Love, Deadly Love: The Texas Cheerleader Murder Plot Hardcover – November, 1992

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The bizarre case of Wanda Holloway, arrested and tried in 1991 for soliciting the murder of Verna Heath, mother of her daughter's junior-high-school cheerleading rival, is detailed by a People magazine staffer and lawyer. Maier explains that cheerleading is so important in Texas because high school football is such a major preoccupation there; she also tells of Holloway's teenage ambition, frustrated by her puritanical father, to be a pompom girl. While she pushed her daughter Shanna to be what she had been denied, Heath was also promoting her daughter Amber to be a cheerleader. Although the two women had been friends before Amber began beating out Shanna, Holloway wanted Amber's mother dead so that Amber could not compete. When Holloway asked her ex-brother-in-law to hire a hit man to kill Heath, he took her request to the police. Although convicted, Holloway is free on a technicality and the case is before an appeals court. A straightforward account of a pathologically twisted plan. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Football and cheerleading are obsessions in Texas. To some Texas parents they are the paths to glory, fame, and success for their children. Wanda Holloway, born poor and on the wrong side of the tracks in a Houston suburb, relentlessly strived to better her position through several marriages and through her children, especially daughter Shanna, whom she wanted to become a cheerleader. There was only one problem. Amber Heath, another student, was consistently chosen over Shanna, and Verna Heath, Amber's mother, was evidently to blame. Totally frustrated by Shanna's failure to be chosen and obsessed with her hatred for Verna, Wanda sought her brother-in-law's help in killing Verna. Instead, he went to the police and began taping their conversations. Wanda was found guilty of criminal solicitation of capital murder, but through a legal technicality her conviction was overturned. She is free pending a new trial. Unfortunately, while Wanda's story is bizarre and fascinating, this book offers neither revelations nor excitement. Mother Love . . . is not recommended.
- Sandra K. Lindheimer, Middlesex Law Lib., Cambridge, Mass.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Birch Lane Pr; First Edition edition (November 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559721375
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559721370
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,689,898 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dan Bogaty on November 3, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
MOTHER LOVE, DEADLY LOVE (henceforth known as MLDL) is the story of Wanda Holloway, a woman who was convicted of attempting to hire a hit man to murder Verna Heath, the mother of cheerleader Amber Heath. Amber was a neighbor girl who consistently beat out Holloway's daughter, Shanna Harper, in cheerleading competitions. Wanda's life apparently depended on the successes of Shanna, who does not seem to have been as concerned with the competitions as Wanda, but whom Wanda pushed relentlessly. As Amber's success continued to outpace Shanna's, Wanda developed an intense and irrational hatred for Amber, but even more for Verna, a cheerleader-mom like Wanda. Wanda's obsession with the Heaths finally led her to contact her ex brother-in-law, Terry Harper, to see if he knew of a hit man. Terry instead went to the police. The ensuing trial featured a cast of characters who would have fit in nicely on the sitcom MY NAME IS EARL.

Author Anne McDonald Maier does a basically good job on this book. Her scene-setting gives the reader a real feel for Channelview, TX, the location of the story, and she also provides interesting descriptions of the lives, past and present of the main charachters. The story moves quickly and easily and is never dull.

I do, however, have certain issues with McDonald's writing style which I believe tends to decrease the quality of MLDL. First the book contains some misspellings and ungrammatical use of the language. While there is not a lot of this, it should have been caught by an editor.
The biggest flaw in McDonald' writing though, is that she feels the need to explain the obvious to her readers, and by doing so to basically tell them what to think. Some examples:
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 26, 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Wanda Ann Holloway seemed to lead the perfect life. She was in her third marriage to a rich and prosperous husband who gave her everything money could buy: jewelry, clothes, cars. Wanda's only problem was Amber and Verna Heath, daughter and mother who had beat out her adored daughter Shanna in the Cheerleader Elections. In Channelview, all girls that wanted to be somebody were cheerleaders. It was a very high position. There were all kinds of school organizations dedicated to cheerleading, and the cheerleaders were ultimately elected by the students. Amber won, Shanna lost. This left Wanda mad and upset. The second time Shanna tried to win, she was disqualified for using rulers in her campaign which were considered "illegal" campaign items. From then on, all Wanda talked about where the disgusting Amber and Verna Heath, the women responsible for her daughter's misery. Amber could maneuver all sorts of back flips etc. that Shanna couldn't, this accentuated Wanda's madness. Many people, tired of hearing Wanda's constant nasty comments, would tell her to have them killed. Wanda, whose mind was full of venom, saw a bulb light up. She went to her ex-brother in law, who lived in a trailer park with his wife, and had a history of crimes, and asked him for a hit man after explaining everything. The second time she contacted him he called the police, who put him undercover. They wired him and taped Wanda talking about having Amber and Verna, who she described as "crap" having done away with because she just hated them. Finally, when they had enough taped to thoroughly incriminate Wanda, and she had given her diamond earrings as a down-payment, they arrested her. Bail was posted and she was only in jail for 24 hours.Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kim Cantrell on August 4, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Wanda Holloway was a self-absorbed, egotistical woman who lived vicariously through her daughter, Shanna. Wanda's biggest dream was for Shanna to be a member of the Channelview, Texas high school cheerleading squad.

But there was, in Wanda's mind, one thing standing in her Shanna's way: Amber Heath.

Wanda was willing to do ANYTHING to get Shanna a coveted spot, even if it meant murder.

Wanda sought out her ex-brother-in-law, Terry; a man known for his drinking, drug use, and rowdiness.

When Wanda gave him $2500 worth of jewelry to pay a hitman, she began a snowball of legal entanglements that would last for the next seven years; ending with her serving time in prison.

Author Anne McDonald Maier details the case that stunned a nation, providing details that weren't given in the movies and documentaries on the case in her 1994 true crime Mother Love, Deadly Love.

In this book, Maier digs deep into the background of Wanda Holloway and the life that led to such a humiliating, stunning outcome.

Readers will be simply amazed at the cast of characters in this book; from the gold-digging Wanda to the drunken, serial marrying brother Terry.

Mother Love, Deadly Love is an overall GREAT read; the only boring parts being the trial part which is redundant and the chapter dedicated entirely to the history of cheerleading.

I thought I knew all there was to know about this well-known Texas case, but I was wrong! If you have even the slightest interest in the case of Wanda Holloway, I definitely recommend reading this book.
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