FOREVER AND FIVE DAYS by Lowell Cauffiel


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 A torpid retelling by Cauffiel (Masquerade, 1988) of a Grand Rapids serial-murder case that received extensive media attention and stimulated debate about nursing-home care for the aged. In the closing months of 1986, Cathy Wood and Gail Graham both worked as nurse's aides at the Alpine Manor nursing home in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The two became lovers, their relationship marked by violence, jealousy, infidelity, sadomasochism, drink, and drugs. Wood seemed to be calling the shots in the affair, manipulating those around her with threats, lies, and physical assaults-- although the author fails to explain her behavior satisfactorily. Then, in January 1987, one of the pair's elderly charges died, apparently of natural causes. Over the next few months, though, five more Alpine Manor patients passed away suddenly. The relationship between the two women fell apart--and soon both were bragging about having smothered six people. Wood's ex-husband eventually went to the police, and the bodies of some of the deceased were exhumed. There were indications of foul play; Wood and Graham were arrested. When the details of the murders came to light, gay activists were quick to disassociate themselves from the case, concerned that the violence might be ascribed to the pair's sexual orientation. During the trials, in fact, both the prosecution and the defense stated that the murders of which the two women were accused were not prompted by their lesbianism. Eventually, Wood plea-bargained her way into a reduced sentence, claiming that it was Graham who planned and carried out the killings. Cauffiel is skeptical of Wood's version. In any event, the two were found guilty and are now in prison. A potentially controversial narrative marred by excessive detailing that occasionally stalls the story and by superficial analysis of the psychology of the principals. (Sixteen pages of photographs--not seen.)

Pub Date: March 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-8217-3710-4
Page count: 512pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1992


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