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Publisher's Summary

This New York Times best seller and shocking “tour de force from America’s best true crime writer” (Kirkus Reviews) - which formed the basis for the Lifetime movie event A House on Fire - follows a woman whose seemingly perfect life hides a destructive madness.

In this harrowing New York Times best seller, Ann Rule is at her masterful best as she winnows horrific truths from the ashes of what seemed like paradise in Prairie Village, Kansas. Rule probes the case of Debora Green, a doctor and a loving mother who seemed to epitomize the dreams of the American heartland. A small-town girl with a genius IQ, she achieved an enviable life: her own medical practice, a handsome physician husband, three perfect children, and an opulent home in an exclusive Kansas City suburb. But when a raging fire destroyed that home and took two lives, the trail of clues led investigators to a stunning conclusion. Piece by piece, Ann Rule digs beneath this placid Midwestern facade to unveil a disturbing portrait of strangely troubled marriages, infidelity, desperation, suicide, and escalating acts of revenge that forever changed dozens of lives.

©2000 Ann Rule. All rights reserved. (P)2020 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

What listeners say about Bitter Harvest

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Gut wrenching

This story was intriguing. Ann Rule tells the story in a way that keeps you wondering what really happened.

1 person found this helpful

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crazy story

this was a hard listen. not because it was bad, but because as the listener we know where it's headed and can't stop the crimes. I'm surprised it hasn't been turned into a tv series yet. just crazy.

1 person found this helpful

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Engrossing Exposé.. but Why This Crime?

Ann Rule is indisputably one of the best True Crime authors Ever.. and is at the top of her game in this one. She masterfully weaves a tragic story informed by intensive research, interviews, court transcripts, and an intuitive understanding of the psychology of criminals. This book is well-written, paced beautifully, and immersive (the reader feels like they know the people and places described). I have to wonder, however, what attracted Rule to this particular story. The crime isn't all that shocking and the relationships among the involved personalities - while jawdropping - aren't terribly unfamiliar.. events like this one happen weekly somewhere or another.

Cassandra Campbell is a quality narrator. Her diction, emotiveness, and cadence are notable, for example. Unfortunately, her timbre is slightly off, her tone is a little too grave at times, and her pacing is somewhat plodding (I found increasing the playback rate to 1.15X made up for some of these problems). Despite the deficiencies and the fact that another reader might have narrated better, Campbell was a good choice.

Several readers have suggested that Rule is repetitive in this book - retelling the same events over and over. I disagree. Some of the repetition is of police interviews at the time they were conducted and then discussed in court. (I also suspect Rule merely wasn't happy with her storytelling at times and felt she needed to clarify). Regardless, it's a real phenomenon.. and it gives the impression that Rule is stretching out the novel for some reason. While a great editor could likely shave four hours from this 16-hour book, however, 'Bitter Harvest' doesn't feel too long. It rather feels incomplete somehow.. as though it was rushed to publication. It's not Rule's best work. Nevertheless, it's a fascinating - if a little Run-of-the-Mill - chronicle of a tragic crime.. one undoubtedly fuelled by mental illness. I rate this book 8/10 stars.

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Great book great narration

Very much enjoyed this book I will listen again and again. Great to listen to while driving

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Great!

I was bit into this listen before I realized I heard the story on a podcast, regardless it was a very interesting and enthralling tale. Ann Rule’s crime writing is fabulous. Worked well with one female narrator! Would absolutely recommend!

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Too long.....

A great story spoiled by repetition. At times I felt the author was showing off the depth of her research at the expense of her reader’s enjoyment. I’ve enjoyed Ann Rule in the past. This one came up short.

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  • sd
  • 2020-10-10

Unbelievable story

Nice long interesting book to fill the empty Covid 19 days. Great narration. Highly recommend

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  • Rodell
  • 2020-08-10

Quite possibly The the best Ann Rule book

I am a hard core Ann Rule fan, even had the pleasure of meeting her years ago at a book signing my then boyfriend was conducting security at in Everett, WA. I read this book decades ago but after revisiting it now, long after reading all of her books....I do believe it is her best work!

15 people found this helpful

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  • Kmac
  • 2020-10-07

Hard to Believe

This was an incredibly difficult story to listen to. it appeared the author already had her mind up about Debora, before she even met her. Even the narrator's voice tone was harsh as she imitated Debora's voice.

Debora was many things in this story. But, somehow there is a back story here that is not being told. It is very curious to me that both people that proved they can cheat and lie, both walk away unscathed, more wealthy even. But of the two discarded spouses, one supposedly commits suicide. And the other spends the rest of her life in jail?

Someone needs to relook this. There are way too manys fingers all being pointed in one direction. Surely there must have been something suspicious in Celeste's husbands death or the case would have been open and shut. But questioning did ensue.

It is quite possible that Mike had a very big hand in this. and used Debora's weaknesses against her to place all guilt on her. I found the author completely irresponsible in her research of this story.

9 people found this helpful

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  • S. Sorensen
  • 2020-08-02

A great Ann Rule book!

I really enjoyed this book! It's quite a story. Hard to believe things like this actually happen. I found it pretty interesting from start to finish. Debora's mental health was very interesting, it's quite a roller coaster. I really like the narrator, I found her to be pleasant to listen to. I think it's one of Ann's better books!

9 people found this helpful

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  • Jim Fulton
  • 2020-07-22

THIS IS JUST A FAMILY STORY

I have read many of Ann's books and most are murder mystery that you can not put down. I am a few hours into this story and it just seems like a story of a bad marriage. There might be more to come, but I'm loosing interest, so I probably won't get to the end

8 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2020-12-23

Intense all the way through!

Ann Rule, as always, didn’t disappoint. This story is intense from beginning to end, and I found myself repeatedly jumping back 30 seconds to make sure I heard it correctly, because I knew that information would come up again later in the story, connected to something else. The narrator did an excellent job of creating different personas for different characters, including her rate of speech, intonation, verbiage, and energy level. I listened to this during long walks outside, which I would highly recommend! Great read!

7 people found this helpful

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  • Sue Smith
  • 2020-12-15

Needs cutting by 1/3

Ann Rule has written much better books. After listening to several Jack Olsen books, I'm highly annoyed by the poverty of her prose. The Audible narrator was so slow I had to listen at 25% higher speed.

4 people found this helpful

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  • N. Osotio
  • 2020-08-31

Sad and terrible.

Storyline told well and this narrator is so good at portraying each character. I'm going to listen to more books like this true crime genre that are narrated by Cassandra Campbell.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2020-10-06

So good!

I’ve listened to 4-5 Ann Rule books and this has been my absolutely favorite. I loved the way it was written. The narrator was awesome too!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Sheila S
  • 2020-12-15

Ann Rule's best

This is an engaging, well-written account of horrendous crimes that would have challenged my ability to suspend my disbelief had it been fiction. I finished it in 2 days. I only wish that there had been more information available to the author about Debora Green's psychology. Highly recommended to mystery and true crime fans.

1 person found this helpful

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  • veebeethefirst
  • 2021-07-26

Brilliantly written and narrated

Ann Rule was a brilliant and compassionate storyteller, as usual. Some will argue that it is that compassion that made her present the complicated affair in the manner in which she did. While it is true there are two sides to every story, I did not like the unflattering way Dr. John Walker and Debora Greene were presented as justification for their spouses’ straying. For that I took off a star. The rest of the story and the narrator deserve five stars plus.
The narrator was absolutely perfect.