Laurie Wasserman, the daughter of a startlingly unemotional mother and a workaholic father, grew up an isolated and unattractive child. Plastic surgery turned her into a beautiful young woman, popular with men, and she married Russell Dann. After her marriage, however, her behavior, which had included some eccentricities of a compulsive nature, became more and more bizarre and the marriage fell apart. Moving from college campus to college campus, passing herself off as a student, Laurie Dann became increasingly psychotic, making hundreds of phone calls to fancied enemies, degenerating physically and attempting to kill her estranged husband. While the lay people she encountered considered her extremely troubled, the suburban Chicago police and the psychiatrists she visited foresaw no danger; the authors, Chicago Tribune reporters, suggest that these latter groups were totally inept. Finally, on May 20, 1988, she went on a rampage that included arson, poisoning and shooting up an elementary school classroom in Illinois, after which she killed herself. This account of the complex and highly publicized case is memorable. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club alternates. (Sept.)
One day in May 1988, Laurie Dann swept through the small town of Winnetka, Ill., and before the day was over, one child had died, many children were seriously hurt, people were poisoned, and Dann herself was dead. Trying to make sense of this rampage, the authors of this book, Chicago Tribune journalists who covered the case, have meticulously reconstructed Dann's life. They discovered that although Dann was very seriously mentally ill and plagued with weird obsessions, she had never been proven to have seriously attacked or hurt another person and could not be put under any form of custody without her permission. This is a fascinating, fast-paced, and well-written story that almost immediately engages the reader. The sad truth to emerge is that it is almost impossible to target the truly dangerous person until a day of horror occurs. Highly recommended.-- Sandra K. Lindheimer, Middlesex Law Lib., Cambridge, Mass.