Final Analysis

Final Analysis

The Untold Story of the Susan Polk Murder Case

Book - 2007
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In October 2002, Susan Polk, a housewife and mother of three, was arrested for the murder of her husband, Felix. The arrest in her sleepy northern California town kicked off what would become one of the most captivating murder trials in recent memory, as police, local attorneys, and the national media sought to unravel the complex web of events that sent this seemingly devoted housewife over the edge.

Now, with the exclusive access and in-depth reporting that made A Deadly Game a number one New York Times bestseller, Catherine Crier turns an analytical eye to the story of Susan Polk, delving into her past and examining how over twenty years of marriage culminated in murder. Tracing the family's history, Crier skillfully maneuvers the murky waters of the Polk's marriage, looking at the real story behind Susan, Felix, and their unorthodox courtship. When Susan was in high school, Felix, who was more than twenty years her senior, had been her psychologist, and it was during their sessions that the romantic entanglement began. From these troubling origins grew a difficult marriage, one which produced three healthy boys but also led to disturbing accusations of abuse from both spouses.

With extraordinary detail, Crier dissects this dangerous relationship between husband and wife, exposing their psychological motivations and the painful impact that these motivations had on their sons, Adam, Eli, and Gabriel. Drawing on sources from all sides of the case, Crier masterfully reconstructs the tumultuous chronology of the Polk family, telling the story of how Susan and Felix struggled to control their rambunctious sons and their disintegrating marriage in the years and months leading up to Felix's death.

But the history of the Polk family is only half the story. Here Crier also elucidates the methodical police work of the murder investigation, revealing never-before-seen photos and writings from the case file. In addition, she carefully scrutinizes the many twists and turns of the remarkable trial, exploring Susan's struggles with her defense attorneys and her shocking decision to represent herself.

Dark, psychological, and terrifying, Final Analysis is a harrowing look at the recesses of the human mind and the trauma that reveals them.

Publisher: New York : HC, c2007.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780061134524
006113452X
Characteristics: xiv, 354 p. : ill. (chiefly col.) ; 24 cm.
Additional Contributors: Thompson, Cole

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d
deebitner
Sep 11, 2018

Wow. Wow. Wow wow wow. I am appalled by this book. I am actively horrified by this book. It has all the triggers in the world! The killing part of the true crime is bad enough, with a mother killing her husband and then having her youngest teenage child find the body. That’s awful and callous and how can anyone do that to their child??? enough for me. But Susan Polk didn’t seem to mind at all, and she minded less trying to turn her children against one another. And terribly unfortunately, she is obviously mentally ill.

I don’t subscribe to the view of mental illness that is super-common in this society, where mentally ill people are the ones who are dangerous. Actual people out of touch with reality are far more likely to be a danger to themselves. It’s more often a failure of empathy than contact with reality that drives people into being killers. (And no, I don’t think that psychopaths or sociopaths are more likely to kill. I’ve actually known a few, and while they often enjoyed manipulation as a game - which is why we are no longer friends - they were not murderous in any way.) Susan Polk seems to be the exception for this rule. The farther I read into “Final Analysis,” the more I felt bad for her. She was clearly suffering, medically paranoid, and out of touch with the real world.

But I don’t feel all that sorry for the victim in this case. While Felix Polk seems to have been an OK father to their three boys, he was a reprehensible excuse for a human being. He started sleeping with Susan while she was a teenager and his patient! Sorry he was killed, and I ache for his kids, but he needed to be in prison himself for child abuse way back in the 70s. Instead he married Susan. As I would say to my friends, “This is 67 million kinds of wrong!”

To top it off, he used hypnosis with someone who was having major issues. I don’t know if he actually assaulted her while she was hypnotized or not, but even if he did not - and there is no evidence either way except for Susan’s recounting which may not be reality-based - hypnosis is contraindicated for use with people who are having issues contacting reality. That gets my professional dander up too, although not as much as the ethical breach of sleeping with a patient AND sleeping with an underage girl. It’s a complete disaster of a story.

I never watched Catherine Cryer while she was on Court TV. I think I’m glad, too, because that means I missed this trial while it was happening, which was a time I watched Court TV a lot during the day on my days off. This isn’t the best-written true crime book I’ve ever read, but it is certainly in the top three for completely messed up. If you’re looking for “Holy cow, she said what?!?” in your true crime, this is recommended highly. If you want to feel sorry for the victim or the killer, it is certainly not. If any of this is triggering, skip it. Four of five stars.

j
jimg2000
Jun 12, 2013

A wild and outside-the-box true crime story of a very dysfunctional family in the Bay Area a decade ago. For a shorter read try the Dateline transcript from NBS news: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/9698604/ns/dateline_nbc/t/why-did-susan-polk-kill-her-husband/#.UbiVo6zCauI By Keith Morrison Correspondent NBC News updated 6/16/2006 4:30:25 PM An update since "Dateline" aired this story (below) on Friday, Oct. 14: The Contra Costa County jury of six women and six men deliberated for four days before convicting Susan Polk of second-degree murder. OAKLAND HILLS, Ca. — Susan Polk is an elegant woman, notwithstanding the prison shirt she usually wears. She's articulate, and there are no hints of the delusions she’s accused of. As for the other thing… well, everybody agrees that that happened. Susan Polk: I thought— "Oh my God, he’s dead, I’ve killed him. I’ve got his blood on my hands, how am I gonna tell my children what happened? They will never see me the same again." (Suggest to search for images of "Susan Polk Murder" and view a better set of pictorial of the characters than the book inserts.)

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