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Forever and Five Days (Zebra Books) Hardcover – March 1, 1992

4.0 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Cathy was the lively one--the bleached-blonde star of the nurses' aides' lunchroom--the one who enjoyed scripting an ever-changing soap opera from the lives of the nursing-home staff. Gwen was the pug-nosed newcomer with a little girl's dependency and desire to please: she doted on Cathy, and was honored to be chosen as her lover. They turned a respected Michigan nursing home into their playground for frivolous games and practical jokes. Then Cathy got worried that Gwen was cheating on her, so she suggested a love pact that would bind them together "forever and five days." Gwen carried out her wishes, and smothered five patients in their beds. It's a story with a large cast of characters--the employees of the nursing home, the individual patients and their loving families, the outsiders who wondered and worried. Lowell Cauffiel does a good job of letting us into their lives, and into the world of make-believe that allowed these murders to go unnoticed for so long. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Ex- Detroit News writer Cauffiel makes an auspicious debut in the true-crime genre with this sensitive and searching story of the murders of at least six nursing home patients in Grand Rapids, Mich., in 1987. The killers were two aides at the home: Cathy Wood, a divorced mother who had turned to lesbianism, and Gwen Graham, long gay. Wood was a brilliant, manipulative individual who enjoyed stirring up trouble; Graham was a harder, more physical woman, capable of violence. They told others about the slayings but were not believed, principally because Wood was known as a congenital liar who delighted in "mind games." She finally convinced her ex-husband of the murders, telling him that she and Graham had killed for fun and excitement. The authorities apprehended Wood first and she turned state's evidence. Graham got five life terms and Wood a sentence of 20 to 40 years. What makes this study noteworthy is Cauffiel's discreet handling of the killers' homosexuality (a restraint not shown by media at the trial) and the excellent concluding section of analyses by a number of psychotherapists which help explain what motivated the crimes. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Series: Zebra Books
  • Hardcover: 467 pages
  • Publisher: Zebra (March 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0821737104
  • ISBN-13: 978-0821737101
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 6.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,445,977 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Lowell Cauffiel on November 4, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In the interest of accuracy to serious readers, I feel it necessary to respond to Roxanne Marcianti's review here. Ms. Marcianti makes a number of charges and assumptions which have no basis in fact. First, not a single sentence of "Forever and Five Days" is "padded" and the book contains not a single passage of "fictionalization." Everything in the work has been meticulously researched and documented with hundreds of hours of taped interviews, court transcripts, police reports and other proven methods of journalistic research. Furthermore, Ms. Marcianti's charge that I did not interview the two perpetrators in this book is simply careless reading on her part. The book's "Author's Note" makes quite clear the sources of all the material in "Forever and Five Days," including stating that the perpetrators were interviewed extensively. Apparently, she didn't bother to read it, or chose to ignore it completely -- which, by the way, makes her "review" libelous in that it maliciously ignores the facts. I would suggest Ms. Marcianti apply the same standards of research and accuracy she expects in my books to her own reviewing skills.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have been a fan of Mr. Cauffiel's books for several years now.
His books are NOT tedious or difficult to read--they are meticulously researched and the subject matter revealed layer by layer to the interested reader. Infused in the narrative of his books is a deep respect for the parties involved and dare I say, some subtle humor as well. For me, this makes for wonderful reading. Fans of superficial, rush-to-market, cheap accounts of lurid crimes and criminals should look elsewhere, not criticize one of the finest true crime writers out there.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read true crime constantly and to the two top "reviewers" who put down this book so blatantly....lighten up.
The book is interesting enough. I find typos in practically everything that I read anyone. I proofread for a living and I could get through it without so much annoyance. Relax people.
What hit me most, was Gwen Graham's childhood. Kids who are brought up around so much violence are always affected.
I would recommend this book to the true crime lover. It is not Helter Skeleter but it's a good read.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The author has done a brilliant job of creating for us a nightmarish true-life series of murders in a nursing home. We've all read occasional news stories of some nursing home employee or hospital worker being imprisoned for serially killing off patients. In this book, though, we're led to the evolution of two mentally unstable women who became lovers and then killers. We're led through the months of lover's fighting and quarrels and the games they played both in the nursing home and outside of it. What disturbed me most, though, was how devoted the lovers of one of the killers, Cathy, remained even after she was proven to be a killer. Her long-suffering husband continued loving her and taking her back even after she tried to murder him with a baseball bat. Even after he heard her confession of serial murders, he told no one until more than a year later. The lover of the second killer, Gwen, are equally hard to forgive. Her girlfriend, Robin, continued to ignore Gwen's repeated confession of mass murder and Robin destroyed valuable evidence that police needed in their case against Gwen. The author does an outstanding job of bringing this cast of killers and enablers to life. His other book, by the way, MASQUERADE, is a classic and I've read it several times. I like his style much better than Ann Rule, who spends pages and pages describing the weather and the geographical background of her murders which become highly boring. Bravo to Lowell Cauffiel for doing such a superb job once again!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I do agree with other reviewers-a good editor could have made the difference in this book. It was long and detailed in sections, difficult to wade through, but, nonetheless, a worthwhile story. The only part left undone for me was how the nursing home management could allow such employees to behave in the manner as they did on the third shift. Cathy and Gwen were such heartless human beings to have cheated these older people out of what little dignity they had left. It appears that Cathy will always continue her sadistic, manipulative behavior; never sorry for what she has done nor the lives she has selfishily destroyed. Ashamed to admit it, but this is one person I would like to see sitting on death row.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Admit it. For years now you've had a wistful yearning for a true crime story featuring a 300 pound, manipulative, bleached blond lesbian narcissist.
And in your dreams, said narcissist, an aide at a Grand Rapids, MI. nursing home, would orchestrate a relentlessly out of control sleaze-athon in which her co-workers - many of them married women with families who leave their husbands and kids - engage in mass out-of-control drunkenness, senseless physical and emotional violence, and rampant sexual promiscuity.
And you know that in your heart of hearts you long for the cellutic ringmaster of this sociopathic circus, Cathy Wood, to decide that it would be fun if she and her main squeeze, aide Gwen Graham, were to begin killing random residents of the home. I mean where is there to go but up?

Well yearn, dream, and long no more! Lowell Cauffiel's FOREVER AND FIVE DAYS is the answer to your prayers. There is no earthly reason for me to further describe the plot, since if the above paragraph doesn't have you salivating uncontrollably, you shouldn't read the book, and if it does, you'll love it.

Lowell Cauffiel is a very good true crime writer who has written my favorite true crime book of all time, MASQUERADE. FOREVER AND FIVE DAYS is very good, though in my estimation not quite as good as MASQUERADE. Though not frequent enough to be a serious problem, the book suffers from less than outstanding editing, leading to misspellings, misuse of words, and improper use of homonyms, for example "in the throws of winter" and "...two bright lights...hung by long chords from the ceiling".
And some of the conversation Cauffiel quotes, as well as some of the thoughts he attributes to the story's players, feels fabricated.
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