Internal Combustion: The Story of a Marriage and a Murder in the Motor City

Internal Combustion: The Story of a Marriage and a Murder in the Motor City

2.5 2
by Joyce Maynard
     
 

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Praise for Internal Combustion

"The sensitivity and insight, both psychological and deeply personal, that Maynard brings to her exploration of this brutal, seemingly unfathomable murder elevate Internal Combustion to a place far above the true crime shelf. Her reporting floors me. Her pacing is seamless, swift, unerring. This book runs like a '69

Overview

Praise for Internal Combustion

"The sensitivity and insight, both psychological and deeply personal, that Maynard brings to her exploration of this brutal, seemingly unfathomable murder elevate Internal Combustion to a place far above the true crime shelf. Her reporting floors me. Her pacing is seamless, swift, unerring. This book runs like a '69 Shelby."
—Mary Roach, author of the best-selling Stiff and Spook

"As relentlessly hypnotic as In Cold Blood. A book that barrels us down a dark stretch of the American Dream, where families fracture, secrets take root, and 'till death do us part' takes on a whole new meaning."
—Jason Roberts, author, A Sense of the World

"One of the great evil-Mommie stories of all time. Part murder mystery, part dysfunctional family story, part self-help book, the subtitle could be: how a hatchet murder taught me to love my children and to accept the terms of my divorce. Nowhere have I seen a better expression of Samuel Beckett's observation that love is a kind of lethal glue."
—Errol Morris, filmmaker, The Fog of War and The Thin Blue Line

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
On the night before Mother's Day, 2004, teacher and mother-of-two Nancy Seaman drove through a storm to Home Depot and bought a hatchet. Three days later, the body of her husband, Bob, was discovered in the back of her SUV, hacked and stabbed to death. These facts aren't in dispute; the question is, How did it happen? Did Nancy murder her husband when he asked for a divorce, or was she a battered woman who killed in self-defense? Even the family was split on the answer, with older son Jeff certain his father was murdered in cold blood and younger son Greg equally certain his mother was telling the truth. Maynard (To Die For), who was struck by similarities between her life and Nancy's, tells the complex story of a desperately unhappy marriage. Though she was unable to get Nancy or most of her immediate family to talk to her, Maynard seems to have formed a surprisingly complete picture of their lives. Her meditations on the parallels between her family and the Seamans aren't compelling but don't detract from a gripping story. For all collections.-Deirdre Bray Root, Middletown P.L., OH Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Novelist Maynard (The Cloud Chamber, 2005, etc.) examines a real-life murder for the nasty truths it reveals about a family of four torn apart by its pursuit of the American dream. In 2004, respected fourth-grade teacher Nancy Seaman picked up a hatchet and killed her husband, semi-retired automobile engineer and executive Bob. Was it self-defense or premeditation? Only Nancy knows; she's serving a life sentence in a Michigan jail. Maynard, no stranger to stories of corruption born of ambition (To Die For, 1992), takes on a tale that offers few conclusions but a host of intriguing questions. The central one: Where does happiness lie? Bob was a man who liked his Detroit Tigers season tickets and working on his vintage Mustangs; Nancy was a polished, proud woman who carefully tended her ideal life in Farmington Hills, a tony suburb of Detroit. They and their two sons, one favoring their mother and the other their father, made up an unhappy clan caught between keeping up appearances and having loving relationships. Maynard devotes the first half of her book to tracking down the Seamans' extended family, locating the roots of their marital problems and detailing the opinions and reactions of friends, coworkers and neighbors. Noting that her work falls under the ethical shadow cast by not just Truman Capote's In Cold Blood but the 2005 film Capote, she drops her detachment and becomes a presence in the story. She resists choosing sides about who was the real victim, Bob or Nancy. At times, she openly admits struggling with her feelings about her own family's dysfunction and divorce. In the end, Maynard finds enough common ground with the Seamans to portray a family broken, but one morefamiliar than strange. Painful, intimate and blood-spattered: a gripping true-crime tale.
From the Publisher
Novelist Maynard (The Cloud Chamber, 2005, etc.) examines a real-life murder for the nasty truths it reveals about a family of four torn apart by its pursuit of the American dream.
In 2004, respected fourth-grade teacher Nancy Seaman picked up a hatchet and killed her hus-band, semi-retired automobile engineer and executive Bob. Was it self-defense or premeditation? Only Nancy knows; she's serving a life sentence in a Michigan jail. Maynard, no stranger to stories of corruption born of ambition (To Die For, 1992), takes on a tale that offers few conclusions but a host of intriguing questions. The central one: Where does happiness lie? Bob was a man who liked his Detroit Tigers season tickets and working on his vintage Mustangs; Nancy was a polished, proud woman who carefully tended her ideal life in Farmington Hills, a tony suburb of Detroit. They and their two sons, one favoring their mother and the other their father, made up an unhappy clan caught between keeping up appearances and having loving relationships. Maynard devotes the first half of her book to tracking down the Seamans' extended family, locating the roots of their marital problems and detailing the opinions and reactions of friends, coworkers and neighbors. Noting that her work falls under the ethical shadow cast by not just Truman Capote's In Cold Blood but the 2005 film Capote, she drops her detachment and becomes a presence in the story. She resists choosing sides about who was the real victim, Bob or Nancy. At times, she openly admits struggling with her feelings about her own family's dysfunction and divorce. In the end, Maynard finds enough common ground with the Seamans to portray a family broken, but one more familiar than strange.
Painful, intimate and blood-spattered: a gripping true-crime tale. (Kirkus, August 1, 2006)

INTERNAL COMBUSTION is an engrossing tale of a troubled marriage, a dysfunctional family and a horrible act of violence. It is thoroughly readable and just scary enough for a good winter's fireside read. - Bookreporter.com

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780470223567
Publisher:
Wiley
Publication date:
02/04/2008
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
496
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.70(h) x 0.80(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"The sensitivity and insight, both psychological and deeply personal, that Maynard brings to her exploration of this brutal, seemingly unfathomable murder elevate Internal Combustion to a place far above the true crime shelf. Her reporting floors me. Her pacing is seamless, swift, unerring. This book runs like a ‘69 Shelby."
—Mary Roach, author of the best-selling Stiff and Spook

"As relentlessly hypnotic as In Cold Blood. A book that barrels us down a dark stretch of the American Dream, where families fracture, secrets take root, and ‘till death do us part’ takes on a whole new meaning. Joyce Maynard’s masterfully honest storytelling is as illuminating as it is fascinating."
—Jason Roberts, author, A Sense of the World

"In an intricate examination, chock-full of Detroit exotica and murder Americana, Maynard gets as close as she can to the two warring sides of a family still clinging to their opposite versions of secrets, accusations, and violence. A tale so chilly, Motor City should hand out car blankets."
—Maria Flook, author, Invisible Eden and Lux

"One of the great evil-Mommie stories of all time. Part murder mystery, part dysfunctional family story, part self-help book, the subtitle could   be: how a hatchet murder taught me to love my children and to accept    the terms of my divorce.   Nowhere have I seen a better expression of    Samuel Beckett’s observation that love is a kind of lethal glue."
—Errol Morris, filmmaker, The Fog of War and The Thin Blue Line

Meet the Author

Joyce Maynard is the author of To Die For, made into a major motion picture starring Nicole Kidman, the memoir At Home in the World, and The Usual Rules. She has been a reporter for The New York Times, a syndicated columnist and commentator on NPR's All Things Considered, and a contributor to O, The Oprah Magazine, More, Redbook, Vanity Fair, and many other publications.

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Internal Combustion: The Story of a Marriage and a Murder in the Motor City 2.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a real 'true crime' enthusiast. This is, by far, the worst book I have ever read. The cover should indicate 'Written by Joyce Maynard & Julie Dumbleton'. I am happy I got this from the library as opposed to spending money on it!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Well-written, engrossing and very involving. I was really looking forward to this book because I had seen excerpts of the trial on Court TV. I was not disappointed. And what was particularly interesting is that the book isn't just about the murder and the aftermath, but also about the work of gathering the material to make the book. Joyce Maynard began her quest feeling very sympathetic to the suspect-wife who claimed self-defense and wound up believing the prosecution. I liked it a lot.