Book Review — Couple Found Slain: After a Family Murder by Mikita Brottman

I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of this book from Netgalley and Macmillan Audio. This has not impacted my rating and this review is voluntary.

  • Genre: True Crime
  • Published by: Macmillan Audio (physical version by Henry Holt & Company)
  • Publish date: July 06, 2021
  • Number of pages: 256 pages
  • Support local! Buy the book on BookShop!

Critically acclaimed author and psychoanalyst Mikita Brottman offers literary true crime writing at its best, taking us into the life of a murderer after his conviction—when most stories end but the defendant’s life goes on.

On February 21, 1992, 22-year-old Brian Bechtold walked into a police station in Port St. Joe, Florida and confessed that he’d shot and killed his parents in their family home in Silver Spring, Maryland. He said he’d been possessed by the devil. He was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia and ruled “not criminally responsible” for the murders on grounds of insanity.

But after the trial, where do the “criminally insane” go? Brottman reveals Brian’s inner life leading up to the murder, as well as his complicated afterlife in a maximum security psychiatric hospital, where he is neither imprisoned nor free. During his 27 years at the hospital, Brian has tried to escape and been shot by police, and has witnessed three patient-on-patient murders. He’s experienced the drugging of patients beyond recognition, a sadistic system of rewards and punishments, and the short-lived reign of a crazed psychiatrist-turned-stalker.

In the tradition of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s NestCouple Found Slain is an insider’s account of life in the underworld of forensic psych wards in America and the forgotten lives of those held there, often indefinitely.

Via Goodreads

Rating: 3.5/5 (rounded up to 4 on Goodreads)

This is a true crime book about a couple who was murdered by their son. Unlike many true crime stories where you are walked through the evidence and events leading up to the murder to script a mystery of “who-dun-it”, we quickly discover the details of the murder. Instead, this book not only relays the details of the murder but the background of the children’s upbringing which is very important to the dynamics of the family structure. The book then spends most of its time on the repercussions of the crime. The majority of this book focuses on the mental health facility that the son is sentenced to as a punishment for his crime.

I found the audiobook of this book difficult to get through. It kind of dragged on for me, but there were many parts that brought me back in. I think there are parts that could have been more succinct but I appreciated the discussion on how mental facilities are over capacity and proper treatment can slip through the cracks and leave those that need help missed.

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to know!

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