The story begins with Bert, a gentle, unassuming street person who mumbled to himself and talked to trees. He wasn't an alcoholic, but he hung out at a detox center in Sacramento, where a volunteer named Judy took an interest in him. Judy was overjoyed when she found a home for Bert with a silver-haired grandmother, Dorothea Puente, who ran a tidy boarding house in a blue-and-white Victorian. Little did Judy know that Puente (just one of the woman's many aliases) would soon become her obsession. By the end of the story, Bert has disappeared, and the cops are digging up seven corpses from the backyard of the boarding house. Author Carla Norton (Perfect Victim) skillfully unfolds the many-layered character of this classic Arsenic and Old Lace-style serial killer: "At the pinnacle of her fame and glory, Dorothea was like a junkie with a philanthropic habit... Everyone dipped into her pot and benefited from her largesse." She was ultimately tried on nine counts of murder, and sentenced to death. DISTURBED GROUND-Carla Norton
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