cover image Heart Full of Lies: A True Story of Desire and Death

Heart Full of Lies: A True Story of Desire and Death

Ann Rule. Free Press, $26 (400pp) ISBN 978-0-7432-0298-5

Former Seattle police officer and crime author Rule (Small Sacrifices; Dead by Sunset, etc.) knows a good drama when she finds one: it involves love, betrayal, greed and violence. In the story of Liysa Northon, a woman who murdered her third husband, Chris Northon, in order to collect his insurance money, Rule has found a real-life soap opera. In the fall of 2000, Liysa convinced Chris to go on a camping trip with her and their small son in the remote forests of Oregon. But the idyllic vacation didn't last long; Liysa would later admit to ending her husband's life by shooting him in the head in an act of""self-defense."" From where she sits today (in an Oregon state prison), she still professes to have shot Chris only in innocence and fear--emotions she said were caused by her years as a victim of domestic violence. But according to her husband's parents and other sources, Liysa is a manipulative sociopath who spent years crafting a public facade of abuse persuasive enough to justify the cold-blooded murder of her husband. Rule has done an impressive amount of research to reconstruct the history of Liysa's crime and the stories of the main people involved, interviewing dozens of police officers, investigators and private citizens across the country. And if the author's prose is somewhat flat, the fascinating and perplexing drama should be more than enough to keep most readers turning pages.