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Seduced by Madness
     

Seduced by Madness

4.0 3
by Carol Pogash
 

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She was fifteen when she visited the therapist; still a teen when they first had sex. She was twenty-five when she married him and forty-four when she killed him.

In October 2002, Susan Polk, the soft-spoken mother of three teenage boys, was arrested for stabbing her husband and former therapist, Dr. Felix Polk, to death. Three

Overview

She was fifteen when she visited the therapist; still a teen when they first had sex. She was twenty-five when she married him and forty-four when she killed him.

In October 2002, Susan Polk, the soft-spoken mother of three teenage boys, was arrested for stabbing her husband and former therapist, Dr. Felix Polk, to death. Three years later she was tried for first degree murder, choosing to act as her own attorney in a trial that rapidly devolved into one of the most outrageous media circuses in modern history. To a crowded courtroom, Susan Polk presented her defense—a bizarre story of unethical therapies, abuse, repressed memories, and satanic rituals—and, in doing so, exposed her madness. Carol Pogash was there.

Seduced by Madness is the remarkably compelling, profoundly disturbing true story of the severe dysfunction of an affluent American family, as told by the leading journalist who worked the case. It is a spellbinding re-creation of a troubled life, a marriage, a murder, and a terrifying, inexorable descent into madness.

Editorial Reviews

Keith Morrison
" Nobody knows this case better, or tells it so well, as Carol Pogash."
Dennis McDougal
"Veteran journalist Carol Pogash offers a complex, detailed, and nuanced exploration of the "perfect" Boomer family."
Ayelet Waldman
"The story is utterly compelling, but it took a writer of Carol Pogash’s talents to make a book this good."
Cassandra King
"In this electrifying look at the complexities of the Susan Polk murder case, Carol Pogash goes beyond the lurid headlines."
—Keith Morrison
“ Nobody knows this case better, or tells it so well, as Carol Pogash.”
—Dennis McDougal
“Veteran journalist Carol Pogash offers a complex, detailed, and nuanced exploration of the “perfect” Boomer family.”
—Ayelet Waldman
“The story is utterly compelling, but it took a writer of Carol Pogash’s talents to make a book this good.”
—Cassandra King
“In this electrifying look at the complexities of the Susan Polk murder case, Carol Pogash goes beyond the lurid headlines.”
--Keith Morrison
“ Nobody knows this case better, or tells it so well, as Carol Pogash.”
--Dennis McDougal
“Veteran journalist Carol Pogash offers a complex, detailed, and nuanced exploration of the “perfect” Boomer family.”
--Ayelet Waldman
“The story is utterly compelling, but it took a writer of Carol Pogash’s talents to make a book this good.”
—Cassandra King
“In this electrifying look at the complexities of the Susan Polk murder case, Carol Pogash goes beyond the lurid headlines.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061535673
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
08/26/2008
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
432
Sales rank:
355,737
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt

Seduced by Madness
By Carol Pogash
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. Copyright © 2008 Carol Pogash
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061535673


Chapter One

"Aren't you happy he's gone?"

In October, soil in the Bay Area is parched from months of no rain.

A snap fire could wipe out communities overnight. Wooden signs warn residents that the fire hazard is "extreme." As the autumn air begins to cool, locals talk about earthquake weather, even though everyone knows cumulus clouds have nothing to do with the shifting of tectonic plates deep inside the earth. But there's this: the Loma Prieta earthquake, which registered 7.1 on the Richter scale, occurred on October 17, 1989. The Berkeley-Oakland firestorm, which killed twenty-five and destroyed 2,886 homes, occurred on October 20, 1991. Many Bay Area residents find the month of October unsettling.

Fifteen-year-old Gabriel Polk, the youngest of the three ruggedly handsome Polk boys, was not thinking about those historical markers on the afternoon of October 14, 2002. He was apprehensively waiting for his father, Dr. Felix Polk, a popular and respected psychotherapist, to drive up to their $1.8 million home in the upscale hamlet of Orinda, twenty minutes west of San Francisco. The home was more a compound really, with numerous buildings dotting the wooded hillside. Graceful old live oaks formed a canopy over the spacious pool, the pool house, the weight room, and the sprawling Arts and Crafts style main house.

With his wide face, pronounced cheekbones, and amiablesmile, Gabe resembled his father. While the boy was still waiting for his adolescent growth spurt, he kept his hair like that of his brothers—marine short. Having missed months of classes, he was enrolled in a continuation school. His mother had encouraged his truancy, telling him that he was special, that the rules that applied to other kids didn't apply to him. Despite trouble at school, Gabe carried himself with confidence, possessing a vocabulary that more closely resembled an educated adult's than a high school student's.

Felix had told Gabe he would see clients in the morning and be home around three. His dad had promised to take him to a playoff between the Giants and the St. Louis Cardinals at the new Pac Bell Park in downtown San Francisco. It would be a good night for the Bay Area. The Giants would score a run in the ninth inning to clinch the playoff and head to the World Series, but Gabe and his father would not be there to see it.

Gabe had spent the warm morning at Del Oro High School in Walnut Creek, a public school designed for kids with problems. He left school at 12:30 pm, after which he and his mother lunched at Baja Fresh, an upscale Mexican chain in the neighboring town of Lafayette, and then ran to the drugstore to pick up some acne medication. Though other teenagers might shun being with their mother in public, Susan's sons appreciated her company, enjoying her beauty, intelligence, and love. When things were going well, she was literate and charming; she lavished her sons with her attention.

As soon as they arrived home, Susan stood in their kitchen and announced, "I'm going to run some errands," a statement which Gabriel found odd. If she had other stops to make, he wondered, why hadn't she done them when they were together? Leaving Gabe at home, she drove back to Lafayette, where she stopped at Blockbuster to pick up the movie Scooby-Doo. While she was gone Gabriel and his dog, a sweet yellow Lab named Dusty, went for a quick swim in the pool before heading to the exercise room, a freestanding building next to the pool house, where he lifted weights and anticipated his father's return from work.

As the autumn sky darkened, Gabriel looked at the lower driveway where Felix normally parked his black Saab. Considering the bitter fights he had recently witnessed between his parents, Gabriel took his father's delay as an ominous sign.

To an outsider, the Polks made a handsome couple. Even at seventy, the charismatic Felix had an air of accomplishment about him. A sturdy, muscular man who maintained his physique, he had European bearing with a crown of dark, graying curls and an empathetic expression that made patients want to confide in him. His tanned face was rounded and carved in curves, whereas his wife's porcelain profile was angular. Susan Polk, twenty-five years younger than her husband, had the perfect features of a woman in a soap commercial, before Dove discovered average women. Her nose was small, her eyes the color of morning toast. She wore classic clothes that were too big for her thin frame, which was slender and coltish like a young Katharine Hepburn.

Before the difficult years, Gabriel's parents had had a loving relationship. They shared a passion for news, politics, culture, and literature. His parents' prized library contained over a thousand books, including numerous first editions. They were completely devoted to each other. When marriages fail, more often than not a third party is involved, a mistress, a yoga instructor, or someone from the high school reunion who drives a wedge in an already fragile relationship. But that was not what happened to the Polks. Felix and Susan were so entwined that there was no oxygen left for anyone else.

A few years ago, his parents' fragile relationship began to splinter. His mother courted Gabe's allegiance in her crusade against her husband. She told Gabriel that his father was their malevolent controller, whispering that she wasn't sure she could escape the marriage—get out from Felix's control—by any other means than to kill him. He had heard her say it; he heard his mother threaten to blow his father's head off with a shotgun. In fact, during the past few months his mother had talked to her youngest about killing his dad so often that her comments about drowning, drugging, or driving over him had lost much of their meaning.

Gabriel had come to believe the evil stories his mother told about his father. It had been his . . .



Continues...

Excerpted from Seduced by Madness by Carol Pogash Copyright © 2008 by Carol Pogash. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

Dennis McDougal
“Veteran journalist Carol Pogash offers a complex, detailed, and nuanced exploration of the “perfect” Boomer family.”
Keith Morrison
“ Nobody knows this case better, or tells it so well, as Carol Pogash.”
Cassandra King
“In this electrifying look at the complexities of the Susan Polk murder case, Carol Pogash goes beyond the lurid headlines.”
Ayelet Waldman
“The story is utterly compelling, but it took a writer of Carol Pogash’s talents to make a book this good.”

Meet the Author

Carol Pogash is a regular contributor to the New York Times and has written for the Los Angeles Times Magazine, Washington Post, and many other newspapers and magazines. She is the author of the book As Real As It Gets. She lives in Orinda, California.

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Seduced by Madness 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the finest books i have ever read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good page turner
Anonymous 12 months ago
Not to say the author did a bad job, because she didnt, but I am going to try another true crime story and see if this genre is for me. It was interesting, but I found myself just trying to get through this story as fast as possible. After Susan actually murdered her husband, Felix(and not to forget all the craziness she was doing beforehand) it was frustrating because I knew she wasn't going to get away with it. Just too predictable at the end and can't believe how delusional Felix was himself.