Final Analysis: The Untold Story of the Susan Polk Murder Case

Final Analysis: The Untold Story of the Susan Polk Murder Case

by Catherine Crier

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Final Analysis: The Untold Story of the Susan Polk Murder Case by Catherine Crier

In October 2002, Susan Polk, a housewife and mother of three, was arrested for the murder of her husband, Felix. The arrest in her sleepy northern California town kicked off what would become one of the most captivating murder trials in recent memory, as police, local attorneys, and the national media sought to unravel the complex web of events that sent this seemingly devoted housewife over the edge.

Now, with the exclusive access and in-depth reporting that made A Deadly Game a number one New York Times bestseller, Catherine Crier turns an analytical eye to the story of Susan Polk, delving into her past and examining how over twenty years of marriage culminated in murder. Tracing the family's history, Crier skillfully maneuvers the murky waters of the Polk's marriage, looking at the real story behind Susan, Felix, and their unorthodox courtship. When Susan was in high school, Felix, who was more than twenty years her senior, had been her psychologist, and it was during their sessions that the romantic entanglement began. From these troubling origins grew a difficult marriage, one which produced three healthy boys but also led to disturbing accusations of abuse from both spouses.

With extraordinary detail, Crier dissects this dangerous relationship between husband and wife, exposing their psychological motivations and the painful impact that these motivations had on their sons, Adam, Eli, and Gabriel. Drawing on sources from all sides of the case, Crier masterfully reconstructs the tumultuous chronology of the Polk family, telling the story of how Susan and Felix struggled to control their rambunctious sons and their disintegrating marriage in the years and months leading up to Felix's death.

But the history of the Polk family is only half the story. Here Crier also elucidates the methodical police work of the murder investigation, revealing never-before-seen photos and writings from the case file. In addition, she carefully scrutinizes the many twists and turns of the remarkable trial, exploring Susan's struggles with her defense attorneys and her shocking decision to represent herself.

Dark, psychological, and terrifying, Final Analysis is a harrowing look at the recesses of the human mind and the trauma that reveals them.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061737046
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/13/2009
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 237,616
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Catherine Crier is the host of Court TV's Catherine Crier Live. A distinguished attorney, legal analyst, and the youngest state judge ever to be elected in Texas, Crier has received an Emmy Award for investigative journalism and the DuPont-Columbia Journalism Award. Also the author of the New York Times bestsellers A Deadly Game and The Case Against Lawyers, Crier lives in Westchester County, New York.

Read an Excerpt

Final Analysis
The Untold Story of the Susan Polk Murder Case

Chapter One

Unethical Beginnings

Susan sat quietly in the passenger seat as her mother parked the car in front of the yellow clapboard house on the corner of Ashby Avenue in downtown Berkeley, California. She and her mom were right on time for her first session with Frank Felix Polk, the Alameda County psychologist that school officials had ordered her to see.

For several months in the fall of 1972, Susan Mae Bolling had been playing hooky from Clayton Valley High School in neighboring Contra Costa County. At fifteen, the willowy brunette did not fit the profile of a truant. Recently, she had been called to the principal's office, not to be admonished, but to be congratulated for her score on the standardized IQ test.

The principal was so excited he could barely contain himself. It was almost embarrassing how he gushed over the ninth grader with the "genius" IQ. News that the quiet freshman with the long, curly hair and hazel eyes was the school's top scorer spread quickly through the student body, and Susan soon found herself a celebrity of sorts. Being the center of attention was not something she was comfortable with; she was awkward, reserved, and even a bit withdrawn. Being hailed as "gifted," however, made her feel powerful. Suddenly, she was recognized as a person with superior qualities, and everyone at school was making a fuss over her. She felt extraordinary, even a bit conceited.

Susan decided she no longer needed to study. Why waste time when she was a genius? Instead of homework, she spent her after-school hours doing what she reallyenjoyed—reading, looking up words in the dictionary, doing crafts, and watching Dialing for Dollars, a fast-paced television game show.

Then she simply stopped going to school.

It was not something she planned. It just sort of happened. It all began the day of her ninth grade math test. She had not studied and could not bear the thought of tarnishing her genius reputation—so she just skipped school that day.

Things snowballed from there. At first, she attended classes intermittently, but soon she was falling behind. Being a genius wasn't enough if she didn't attend classes.

Then it happened. She received an "F" on a math test.

Realizing she was in trouble, Susan went to her teacher. He was kind and attentive, immediately offering her extra help. Their impromptu session was helpful, and the teacher told her to come back. But Susan didn't follow through. All of a sudden, everything seemed too hard.

The walk to school was too long, especially on the days that the neighborhood bully and his buddies were on the street. At the time, Susan was living with her mother and older brother, David, in a two-bedroom apartment in Concord, an area of the East Bay about forty-five minutes outside San Francisco. She didn't feel safe in their blue-collar neighborhood, where gunshots were not uncommon, and there'd been several murders in the hills behind her house. The little girl who lived next door had been struck in the head by a stray bullet and needed surgery to have it removed. Susan had babysat for the child several times and was horrified when her father came by to share the news. It made her nervous to pass the older boy and his friends, and she didn't like the way they looked at her.

Even at school, she didn't feel safe. During her first week at Clayton, a girl jumped her, and then several others joined in, shoving her repeatedly, until a teacher intervened. Susan was convinced the attack was racially motivated, and that the girls at the mostly black and Hispanic high school were jealous that some boys had taken a liking to her. She was trim and attractive in a natural sort of way, with porcelain skin, hazel eyes, and long curly hair the color of dark chocolate. Staying home with her books and visiting the imaginary world of David Copperfield was infinitely preferable to the anxiety of traveling to school and the realization that she was falling behind in class.

It wasn't that Susan didn't want to go to school; she loved to learn.

She just couldn't muster the courage to leave the house anymore. When she did, she felt physically ill, as if she would faint from heart palpitations and shortness of breath. She wanted the feeling to stop.

For more than a month, Susan intercepted letters from the high school attendance office, inquiring about her excessive absences. When her mother finally learned that she had been skipping school, she didn't ask why. Helen Bolling simply followed the recommendation of the school guidance counselor to have her daughter evaluated by Frank "Felix" Polk, a licensed clinical psychologist who specialized in the treatment of adolescents and families.

Susan's stomach was aflutter as she trailed her mother up the steps of Dr. Polk's clapboard house. His office was to the left of a small waiting area; the double doors were ajar, but there was no one inside and no receptionist to greet them. After waiting for some time, Susan and her mother returned to the car. The psychologist was apologetic when Mrs. Bolling phoned to question his absence, and another appointment was scheduled. On the second visit, Susan was just as uncomfortable, but as it turned out, she was off the hook again. Polk, who went by the name "Felix," seemed more amused than sorry that he'd double-booked for their new time slot and asked Mrs. Bolling to reschedule once more. Susan didn't really have much choice; because of her truancy, the school required that she be evaluated by this doctor.

Her mother didn't even park the car on their third visit to the Berkeley office. She double-parked on Ashby Avenue until she was sure the therapist was available. A million thoughts ran through Susan's mind as she climbed the steps of the yellow house for a third time. What if the psychologist is really handsome, she worried. She would not be able to speak to him. She would be too shy to open up.

Final Analysis
The Untold Story of the Susan Polk Murder Case
. Copyright © by Catherine Crier. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Final Analysis: The Untold Story of the Susan Polk Murder Case 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I first learned of this case by watching a snapped episode. Crier's novel delves deeply into the lives of both felix and susan polk. Well written, insightful- it is a real eye opener to this tragic murder where three sons are caught in the middle and must choose sides. It also exposes abuses by both spouses toward one another throughout their relationship. A very good read to a very tragic story.
KiahJT More than 1 year ago
Fascinating look at the players n this tragic case.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My husband thinks I'm crazy for reading muurder mysteries in bed. I can't help it if he can't sleep with the lights on. This one kept me up real late. You should read it. I recommend this book. I like Crier's tv show to. Crier used to be a judge so I trust her.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read Crier's book cover to cover on a long flight after grabbing it at the airport book store. I usually don't like true crime, but this book was very cool. One thing is for sure I would never represent myself in court after reading this one. The photos are cool too. I don't think I've ever seen a real autopsy report before.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you think your family is messed then you haven't met the Polks. I couldn't put this book down. There's even a murder mystery within the murder mystery. Two thumbs up.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I truly enjoyed this book. It is a well-written tale of how one troubled teen entrusted a school-recommended therapist with her inner-most fears¿a much-older man who took advantage of her fragile mental state to his own gain. In the end, he has no one to blame but himself, not only for stealing this young woman's chances at a normal life, but also for allowing her to remain without help and care as she descended into a world of anger and despair¿ and ultimately murderous rage.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm a member of a Women's reading group and we are all buying Catherine Crier's book for our March discussion. Her Peterson book was excellent. We're really looking forward to getting our copies. (some of us read more slowly than others)
Guest More than 1 year ago
When Susan Polk went to trial the first time around I was sure the most she would get was manslaughter. But second degree murder? What a strange case this turned out to be. I can't wait to read the backstory.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This case didn't really get the media coverage it deserved. Bravo to Crier for exposing the shameful secret of a California bedroom community. Everyone in town must have known what was going on in that house and noone said a word. Will the media care when Polk is sentenced on Feburary 23rd? Will she be granted a new trial? We'll see...
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was one of the strangest trials in California history. Love her or hate her, Susan Polk is one of the most complex characters to enter the legal scene. I can't wait to read the backstory of how she went from a housewife to acting as her own attorney at a murder trial. Catherine's last book was awesome.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Completely inaccurate and sensationalized. Don't waste your money!
Guest More than 1 year ago
And how do you write a book about a case that wasn't closed yet? I followed the Susan Polk case closely, read every news article on it, talked online with court watchers who attented the trial every single day, and watched in dismay at the meager coverage Catherine Crier gave this case on her show (mostly talking heads who rarely if ever sit in court). Catherine Crier herself only went to the court at the start of the trial, and again during the verdict watch three months later (last week). I have no idea how she managed to write a book without being in court to see what the real facts are, and I'm especially suspicious of the fact that a) she started out as an ardent Susan Polk supporter and b) she finished the book before the trial was over! I also have no idea how that reviewer, supposedly just your average joe kind of book buyer, could read a book that has yet to be published. Buyer beware.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Long winded
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Catherine Crier knocked our socks off with 'A Deadly Game,' her definitive tome on the Laci Peterson murder investigation. Now Crier takes on a complex psychological true crime thriller. A perfect storm of legal cases, Crier masterfully weaves Polk's murder case and the brutal slaying of Pamela Vitale the wife of Polk's long suffering former attorney Dan Horowitz. Following close on the heels of Crier's #1 NYT's bestseller 'A Deadly Game', 'Final Analysis' represents the 2nd installment of what promises to be a bone chilling franchise.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Why didn't the courts show any sympathy for Susan Polk? This woman was abused by a therapist who later married her. If she killed this man 30 years later I'm not sure jail is the best place for her. I hope Ms. Crier uses her voice to cast a spotlight on the issue of abused women. I'm sure she will. Her last book certianly didn't dissapoint.
Guest More than 1 year ago
While I haven't read this book yet, I can tell you that Crier's last book on the Peterson case kept me up for several nights straight. I hope my book arrives ahead of schedule so I can be up to speed before Polk is sentenced on Feb. 20th. Wish me luck.