Friday 22 January 2010

The Class Project: How To Kill A Mother - The True Story of Canada's Infamous Bathtub Girls by Bob Mitchell

Published by Key Porter Books

Two teenage sisters return from dinner with friends to a shocking image of their mother dead, face-down in a bathtub of water. Frantic, they call 911 and the operator keeps them on the line, trying to calm their hysterics until the emergency services arrive. Friends and family are shocked and stunned by the news and rally around to help the girls - along with their younger brother - recover from this tragedy.

Little do authorities know that the death of Linda Andersen is not accidental, but was in fact planned by the two sisters aided by various close friends. Only a year later when Sandra (the oldest daughter) tells her dark secret to the wrong person, does their perfect murderous plot see the light of day. How is it possible that 15 and 16 year old girls almost get away with such a terrible crime?

In The Class Project, Bob Mitchell shares all the answers. With the cooperation of the homicide investigators, crown prosecutors, and the girls' own defense team, the author tells all in this inside look into the sensational trial that would rank among the most notorious in Canadian judicial history.

I was totally taken aback by this book. I admit that I am not fond of watching or reading about the news and so I knew nothing about this event. In my mind though, I have never associated homicide with youths, much less young girls. Not unless they were victims. To read about teen girls who plotted to kill their mother for months was disturbing but more disturbing still was the fact that they shared this info with a number of friends. Friends who didn't try to talk them out of it, who didn't go to the authorities or a parent and express concern. Friends who instead, chose to collaberate with the sisters on the best methods to use and safest ways not to get caught. Hence the title, The Class Project.

The author shares all the information in an interesting and factual manner that easily keeps the readers attention. Indeed, I began reading this book when I couldn't sleep last night and while I did eventually put it down (around 2am), I didn't hesitate to pick it back up when I woke at 7. I couldn't help but be drawn in even as I found myself in constant turmoil. I couldn't (and still can't) decide wether to feel sympathy for the girls and their environment or feel horror at the cold-hearted manner in which they planned and then carried out the murder of their own mother.

It's not an easy read at times but is always rivetting all the same. I have read a few true crime books and this is definitely among my favourite. The author has taken interviews, court documents etc and has woven them brilliantly together to form a gripping yet chilling read. It certainly opened my eyes.

An informative and fascinating read.

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