Ashes to Ashesby Lyn Riddle
On a November afternoon in 1992, 24-year-old Bobby Coulson murdered his parents, two sisters, and a brother-in-law. He bound and gagged his first victim, his mother, and set her on fire. When Bobby was arrested for the crimes, everyone believed he'd done it for his parents' $600,000 estate. But his actual motives were much deeper and darker. Now, featuring Bobby's mother's diary, interviews with family members and friends, here is the gripping story of a mother whose love wasn't enough to save her son or herself. Photos.
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I liked the book. I found it very interesting. Some of the complaints are as follows: 1) The book jack doesn't deliver on it's promises -- I think it DOES deliver. It allows the reader to come to his or her own conclusions. Rather than bringing in a forensic psychologist, which would have made me give the book five stars, it just sticks to the facts with no interpretaton on them. One can learn how Bob tore his biological mother's face out of a book and wonder if that was how he was coping with pain, etc. Was that his way of coping, blocking out pain? These are things the reader can ponder. Mary Coulson had to "wrestle control" over Bob from his six-year-old biological sister who took on a "motherly" and "protective" role over Bob? The adoptive agency said Bob was "angry" and his sister was "sad?" There is a lot of psychology here if true and many questions raised. 2) The pictures are not shocking enough -- Well, I don't need to see gruesome pictures. I only wish there were pictures of Jared Aultheus, his right-hand man in the crimes. There were very vivid descriptions of what the firemen found inside the house from compiled trial transcripts. 3) Too much emphasis given to Linda's account, the niece -- This may be a legitimate gripe. I found it interesting nonetheless. I would have preferred if friends close to the family were interviewed for their input as well. 4) Too much time spend on the background of Mary and Otis, the adoptive parents -- Totally unwarranted. It was one chapter only, and I love the backgrounds. I only wish there was a background given on Bob's (the murderer) family life with his biological mother. I found all the "butterfly effects" of the backgrounds very interesting. How did all these family members come together? The book delivers here. 5) Most of the information comes from the trial itself -- Okay, and so what? Isn't that one of the best places to turn to? I was not familiar with the trial. I enjoyed this part. 6) Not much is mentioned about Mary's diary -- This a valid complaint. But there was an interesting rumor of incest that was proven false and which allegedly came from the diary, and that was mentioned. Maybe there was just nothing that "juicy" in the diary. I'm not so sure if the author actually penned the words of the book jacket, though. That could be a publisher's sales pitch, so I don't knock it for this. It was stilll veryinteresting. CONCLUSION: I give it four stars because it is easy to read and sticks to the facts. I wish it was longer, had the input of a forensic psychologist(s) to give a psychological profile on some of the people, and I wish more of the family's friends were sought out for research. I learned all sorts of stuff, like Bob allegedly was supposed to be committed; but his mother (the one he kills) didn't want to give up on him. The strong religious upbringing in the Coulson family, which doesn't exactly instill much confidence of one's intellectual honesty in my opinion. It's as good conversation piece. There are places where I felt sad for Bob as a little kid and then couldn't stand his attitude as a teenager. At least as it was presented to me. The reader is left to draw his/her own conclusions.