years ago Andrea Yates attracted national media attention when
she drowned her five children in a bathtub in Houston. I was
shocked and horrified by what Andrea Yates had done. I grieved
for her children, for her family, for her.
Then I thought about Susan Smith, who went on national television
and begged people to find the unidentified man who had killed
her two sons, a stranger who robbed her of her precious family.
But we soon learned that there was no stranger. We learned that
Susan Smith had killed her sons because they were an encumbrance
to her relationship with her lover, who didn't want a family.
So I wondered. Was Andrea Yates mentally ill as she claimed?
Was she another Susan Smith, covering up premeditated murder?
I listened to talk radio and read articles about Andrea and
post-partum psychosis. Many people wanted her executed. Many
thought she needed medical attention. I decided to explore post-partum
illness, and that exploration formed the basis of Blues in the
Night, the first in my new series featuring true crime writer/tabloid
journalist Molly Blume.
1. How did you respond to Molly overall, and, more specifically,
in her role as (a)reporter/writer, (b)family member, and (c)
2. Did you find Molly's concerns about trusting Zack credible?
3. Did you enjoy Molly's observations on writing?
4. What were your initial feelings for Robby? Do you think he
truly grieved for his son even though he was responsible for
5. Did you feel at all sorry for Betty Rowan? Why? Does her
background explain her behavior toward Lenore?
6. Did you find that there were enough suspects and that the
suspects were all credible in terms of motive and opportunity?
7. Did you initially think that Lenore had killed herself --
either intentionally or accidentally? (I wasn't certain for
a while myself.)
8. Were you surprised by the identity of the killer? Most readers
have told me that they were surprised. One told me that she
figured it out early, but the truth is, I wasn't sure myself
until I was on the last fourth of the book. For a long time
I thought it was Nina -- trying to protect Dr. Korwin, enraged
because she believed that Lenore had betrayed him and was going
to ruin his reputation, etc.
9. If you *were* surprised, who did you think killed Betty Rowan?
10. How did you feel about Lenore after you finished reading
the book? Could you understand why she lied to protect Robby?
11. Before reading the book, did you know much about postpartum
illness? Did you have an opinion about Andrea Yates and her
fate? Did your opinion change after reading the book? Do you
think women who kill their children in a psychotic episode should
be institutionalized or imprisoned?
12. Do you think there are a significant number of women who
suffer from PPD and (a)don't know it or (b)are ashamed to admit
it? Is the illness addressed enough in your community?
13. What were your feelings about Lenore when Molly hears disquieting
information that casts Lenore as a manipulator? Did you believe
the information? Question it?
14. At the end of the book Molly reflects: "It's amazing how
much we think we know, how little we actually do, how ready
we are to jump to conclusions. I had done it, too."
15. Do we all do that? Do we judge people wrongly on bits of
information? Is this one of the pitfalls of gossip - "lashon