The Bad Seed - William March

I put this book on order at the library because I loved the film and wanted to read the novel it was based upon.

The film version is really a filmed version of the Broadway hit play.  It hits some high notes from the fabulous performances of the cast, in particular Patty McCormick and Eileen Heckart (she and McCormick later revealed how emotionally wrenching these roles were for them) to the creepy moments of Leeroy's demise.  The film is also a bit awkward since it is obviously based on a play and staged in a play like fashion.  It would have been nice to see the film expand on the book's world.

Suffice to say, the play (and in relation the film) really sugar coated March's novel.  March's book is a study in paranoia, hysteria, horror and isolation.  Everything on top is nice, sweet and suburban but as it progresses March reveals the deviance inside all of the characters not just Rhoda.  As he keeps pulling away the veils, a distinct unclean feeling pervades the world and the reader.

In this sea of decay, Rhoda Penmark swims around like a shark.  The character, disconnected from Patty McCormick's pretty face, is a silent, malignant presence.  She only speaks in platitudes but when she finally reveals her true thoughts, it is quite frightening.  The canny March keeps Rhoda as a cipher instead focusing on her mother.  As Christine Penmark comes to deal with Rhoda's true nature, and in turn goes insane dealing with it, the book contracts as Christine retreats from the festering world outside her doors.  Far from running away from her past, her present and the future, Christine becomes what she fears.  She takes her place in a line of murderesses...a bad seed.

If you can handle the extremely ghoulish, then this book won't disappoint.

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