Homicide, Texas-style--with 41 blows of an axe. Of: Betty Gore, wife, mother, and pillar of the Lucas Methodist Church, in the remote suburbs of Dallas. By: Candy Montgomery, wife, mother, and lay leader of the same church. In (and here's the hook): self-defense. So said the jury, anyway, and although Bloom and Atkinson conclude that ""something passed between the women in those frenzied moments that defies all the best efforts of psychiatrists, lawyers and policemen to explain,"" their carefully-researched account of the background of this middle-American tragedy should fascinate true-crime aficionados. Though superficially dissimilar (flashy Candy/reserved Betty), the two women were curiously alike: small-town girls from traditional families, pretty if not beautiful, mothers of two, husbands in the electronics industry, and marriages going sour. Candy decided that an affair might cure her malaise, and set bar sights on Betty's husband Allan. (They sang in the choir together, and she propositioned him one night after a church volleyball game.) After lots of talking, they embarked on ""the most meticulously planned love affair in the history of romance""--every two weeks, during Allan's lunch bout, at a local motel. (Candy brought a basket lunch, sometimes beef teriyaki strips and cheese blintzes.) They broke up after Allan and Betty spent a weekend at a church-endorsed ""Marriage Encounter"" group session (Candy and her husband Pat tried it too), and both couples returned to someting like normal. Many months later, Candy stopped by Betty's house to pick up a swimsuit for Betty's older daughter (she'd stayed over with Candy's daughter the night before); Betty asked her about the affair, and something snapped. According to Candy, Betty came at her with an axe: at trial, Candy's lawyer said Betty ""was an animal. She had turned into something less than a human being."" In Candy, according to the defense psychiatrists, there exploded a lifetime of suppressed rage. The not-guilty verdict outraged the Dallas community (41 axe blows in self-defense?), and Bloom and Atkinson adroit that even Candy's version leaves out one key element: the mind of Betty Gore. ""If it was impossible to believe that Candy would take an axe and hack Betty to death, then the reverse must have been true as well."" Creepy, and made creepier by the stereotypical middle-America setting.