From Hammer (The Helmsleys, 1990, The CBS Murders, 1987, etc.), a scrupulously detailed account of a teenaged girl, her boyfriend, and the murder of her mother. Joyce Aparo was everything a murder victim shouldn't be: popular with her co-workers, known by everyone in her hometown of Glastonbury, Connecticut, and a highly competent career woman. She was also, secretly, everything a parent shouldn't be. She beat her only child, Karin, from the time the girl was three; forbade her to play with other children; forced her to dress as a miniature version of herself; and insisted she was a violin prodigy (during one recital, Aparo ran on stage screaming at Karin and dragged her off). Karin grew up with bulimia, anorexia nervosa, a suicide attempt, and post-traumatic stress syndrome. At 16, she met Dennis Coleman, 18--tall and red-haired with a splash of freckles, IQ 137, well bred and well spoken. After a few dates, the two were making love every chance they got, planning a honeymoon in Vienna, and progressing to sex with handcuffs and dildos. Coleman became completely obsessed with Karin, writing her every day (even when he saw her) and worshiping at ""my Karin shrine""--photos, flowers, and memorabilia of Karin covering every wall of his bedroom. Did they plot together to kill Joyce Aparo? (Karin had already tried to give her mother an overdose of Seconal.) Was Coleman acting on his own, as Karin maintained from the day she was arrested? Or was Coleman so compelled by passion that he could not resist anything Karin asked? How he came to strangle Joyce Aparo and the part that Karin played in the murder form the tangled plexus here. Hammer provides meticulous research--extensive diary entries, correspondence, psychiatric profiles, and verbatim trial testimony--in producing a solid but slowly paced and grim illustration that ""violent loves have violent ends."" Not for sensitive souls.