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Internal Combustion: The Story of a Marriage and a Murder in the Motor City
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Internal Combustion: The Story of a Marriage and a Murder in the Motor City

3.48  ·  Rating Details  ·  127 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
On Mother's Day night, 2004, Nancy Seaman left the Tudor home she shared with her husband of 32 years and drove in a driving rain storm to purchase a hatchet. Three days later her husband was found murdered and Nancy asserted she had killed him in self-defence. This is her story.
Hardcover, 490 pages
Published September 1st 2006 by Jossey-Bass (first published 2006)
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Suzie Flohr
Apr 19, 2015 Suzie Flohr rated it it was amazing
This book has been put as one of my favourites I absolutely loved this. I highly recommend. The way Joyce wrote I felt like I knew the people. Loved Loved Loved it.
Oct 24, 2010 D'Anne rated it did not like it
I tried. I read 300 pages of this -- in which the woman was arrested, tried, and found guilty of hacking her husband to death with a hatchet in their Farmington Hills garage -- but then I had to give up. I was interested in the book because it's a local story, but past page 300 it was basically Joyce Maynard writing about how no one would talk to her for the book and how she's afraid to drive in the snow. The book is also not especially well-written, not unusual for true-crime novels, but that h ...more
Jan 25, 2016 Rita rated it it was amazing
This author presented an excellent insight into a very successful auto industry engineer who worked in Detroit and was living the American dream. She explores the lives of this family and even takes you back to the depression days. But with time and dark family secrets their world as they know it changes and starts to unravel. A riveting read. I couldn't put it down.
Jul 17, 2008 Mary rated it liked it
This book starts out strong. It is about the murder of Bob Seaman by his wife Nancy Seaman. She murdered him with a hatchet in 2004. The thing that stricks me about this true crime is that they were married for 34 years. It seems like such a long time, to end like that. So far it is a good read.........

I am at about 100 pages right now and it seems like the story could end here. I find myself wondering how much more is the writer going to have to write about in the few hundred pages that are lef
Feb 24, 2008 Kirsti rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, mayhem
" 'Every family has a murder, you know,' she said to me. 'Not literally in most cases. But somebody in the family feels a need to kill somebody else. So where was the murder in your family?' "

I'm not sure if Joyce Maynard is most famous for being the author of To Die For (a terrific novel that was made into a movie starring Nicole Kidman), for becoming a New York Times essayist by age 18, or for shacking up with J.D. Salinger and then selling his love letters decades later.

This is a true-crime b
Amanda Ishtayeh
Feb 15, 2011 Amanda Ishtayeh rated it it was ok
I kept waiting and waiting for this book to tell me something new or mysterious or even come out and take a stand that the husband was abused by his wife! I blame my self for finishing this book that took 400 pages to tell me what it could have told me in about 150. She also repeated herself with stories and findings she had already told us about. She did not get the interviews she needed to make this book interesting but since she is a good writer I kept hanging on with the promise of "enlighte ...more
Jul 06, 2010 Angie rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Jill ????
Shelves: non-fiction, crime
FINALLY! I can move this to my read book shelf and move on ! ( I admitt I " scanned " the last third of the book ) Sorry Diane - this one just did not work for me . I normally enjoy reading true-crime , but I enjoyed very little about this book . I found the telling to be lacking in depth about the characters and what actually took place and more about the author's reasoning behind her desire to write the book and her strike outs when attempting to get the facts .
Kate Schmitz
Jun 23, 2010 Kate Schmitz rated it did not like it
Save yourself the trouble: NO ONE involved with this murder would speak to her and yet she still wrote the book...about how no one would speak to her.
Jan 16, 2016 SouthWestZippy rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Nancy Seaman is accused of murdering her husband, Bob, of 32 years. His mutilated body was found in the back of family's Ford Explorer. Bob was much loved softball coach and a collector of vintage Mustangs.
Good but not great True Crime book. Lots of details about things that have nothing to do with the crime. Joyce Maynard puts in a lot of her own views and life in the book, found this to be annoying. It did not feel well rounded on reporting the dynamics of the family or the crime. I am giving
I kept telling Terry about this as I read it ("she killed him with an AXE") and it was quite unsettling. Partly because I swear I have read another book about this same crime...and partly because JM really really was obsessed with this, and despite being unable to interview several key people in the story, she slogs on (and on) and digs quite deeply into it. I was a bit turned off by how she kept telling us that she drove old cars, borrowed a coat, etc. while still reminding us she is from Marin ...more
Aug 02, 2013 Valerie rated it really liked it
This was a pretty interesting true story about an extremely dysfunctional family which took place in the early 21st century. The woman at the center of the story is a year older than I am and was raised by her parents to be a wife to a "Ford" man, aka a man who worked for the Ford Company in Detroit, MI. The idea of her doing anything else with her life except be a wife and mother was simply out of the question during those years and in this segment of the population at large, although she was h ...more
Mar 17, 2011 Beth rated it it was ok
Joyce Maynard is the author of TO DIE FOR, a book of fiction based on the Pamela Smart case in New Hampshire in which Smart has her teenaged lover murder her husband. In INTERNAL COMBUSTION, Maynard again is interested in a case of a marriage gone so bad that a woman wants her husband dead. Only this time she sticks with the facts, nonfiction, as she saw them over her summer’s-long investigation plus a few shorter trips before and after. And this time the unhappy wife does it herself.

This is pa
Feb 22, 2014 Matthew rated it liked it
I liked Joyce Maynard's writing. I was almost certain what the jury's verdict would be from the beginning but it still had me turning the pages for more information about the case. I liked how Maynard brought herself into the book as well.
Jun 07, 2008 Amy rated it liked it
This has a strong hook...An award winning school teacher (Nancy Seaman) murders her husband (Bob Seaman) with a hatchet in their home home located in an upscale neighborhood of Detroit. (Get it? motor city...internal combustion?) I don't read alot of non-fiction, but this held my interest and it was strange- as a woman- to find yourself siding with the deceased despite Nancy's claims of being abused. This was obviously written with a slant against the wife, but the author gave her and her family ...more
Sep 17, 2015 Dixie rated it really liked it
This book was interesting to me as I had seen the 48 Hours episode on this case and wanted to learn more, which I certainly did. I found the characters unique and interesting, but the author integrated her own personal experiences into this book, and I felt that took away from the book. A good true crime overall.
Jan 23, 2016 Fishface rated it liked it
Shelves: true-crime
Only in Detroit could a marital dispute over a restored classic Mustang lead to an axe murder. Here is that story and all the crazy drama that came with it.
Peggy Jeffcoat
Jan 13, 2011 Peggy Jeffcoat rated it really liked it
This is a true story of a woman who murders her husband with an ax. Was she abused or was she the abuser? Joyce Maynard became intrigued with this story and did extensive research, reviewing court proceedings, interviewing family members, friends and associates. Another question that troubled the author is why was she so interested in finding the answer and how did it relate to her own troubled past. I had never heard of this particular crime, committed in 2004, but I became very engrossed in th ...more
Oct 17, 2009 Diane rated it it was amazing
There are so many twists and turns in this story, it's absolutely amazing. I'm in awe that Joyce Maynard (the author) displayed such tremendous patience in her attempts to interview the players and sub-players of this story but I'm glad she did. This book is not just about the break-down and dysfunction of this family and the subsequent murder that took place but it's also about the break-downs and dysfunction in our own families and how we create them. What an interesting read! Thank you, Joyce ...more
Jan 30, 2013 Cheryl rated it really liked it
True crime novel of a tumultuous marriage, controlling partners and many questions left unanswered in the hatchet murder of a Ford Motor Company executive by his wife of 20+ years. The aftermath of the trial, conviction and the resulting break-up of three generations of family. Left unanswered: did the wife have help in covering up the murder? Was she truly a victim of Battered Spouse Syndrome? Well-written; such a thoroughly covered investigation with the information from those that "would" tal ...more
Mar 25, 2011 Nick rated it it was ok
Shelves: true-crime
The time the author spent writing about the actual case was well-written and very interesting. I was disappointed though, that the author spent the second half of the book dwelling on her bitterness over her divorce from at least fifteen years prior. I also found it strange that when the author actually wrote about something besides herself, she wrote about how no one invloved with the case would talk with her, but that lack of information was not going to stop her from writing.
Anne Enste
Jan 24, 2014 Anne Enste rated it really liked it
Fascinating, disturbing true story of the murder of Robert Seaman by his wife. Not for the squeamish.
Dawn Fontaine
May 15, 2016 Dawn Fontaine rated it liked it
With a rather interesting subject matter and window into one family's life, this was a quick and engaging read. The author went into a lot of detail about her own experience writing the book, which I surprisingly found one of the more interesting parts of the book. That being said, it could have been 100 pages shorter with many references and phrasing brought up over and over again, which to me seemed sloppy.
Betty Mccook hosack
Oct 09, 2013 Betty Mccook hosack rated it liked it
Interesting how a family can split over a mishap. When an outsider comes to the realization that this woman was a cruel individual. She was given the justice that was called for. The injustice that came about after the fact is very sad, showing that money is the root of all evil. If you are a reader whom likes true crime this is a book you will enjoy.
Mike Tueros
Jul 23, 2011 Mike Tueros rated it liked it
Being originally from Farmington Hills, this true story hit very close to home. The first half of the book is chilling - and then Maynard spends the second half trying to convince the son to talk to her...over and over again without success. I would have enjoyed it more if Maynard had quit after 200 pages, or gone a different direction.
Mar 09, 2014 Donna rated it liked it
Oh my lord, people are crazy! Every time I read one of these true crime books, I'm amazed at how easily a seemingly normal person can just SNAP and commit such heinous acts. This book is no exception.
B Scott
Dec 03, 2012 B Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Better than the average real-world crime narrative ... this book includes the author's narration of her own reactions as she learned more about the circumstances of a particularly nasty wife-husband murder.
Joyce, a great psychological read. Your writing in every field is gold. Why not more publicity on this book? I found it by luck in the library.
Sep 24, 2008 Janet rated it it was amazing
I love Joyce Maynard. This is a true story of a wife who had her husband murdered. Its a long, detailed story that i found fascinating!
Jun 15, 2010 Mabowd rated it it was ok
Thorough but unfulfillling. Seems author never did find the explanation she was looking for, so the book ends very up in the air.
Cheryl Schibley
May 25, 2009 Cheryl Schibley rated it it was amazing
Shelves: true-crime
This happened in an area I once lived - it was good - especially if you like true crime.
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Joyce Maynard first came to national attention with the publication of her New York Times cover story “An Eighteen-Year-Old Looks Back on Life” in 1973, when she was a freshman at Yale. Since then, she has been a reporter and columnist for The New York Times, a syndicated newspaper columnist whose “Domestic Affairs” column appeared in more than fifty papers nationwide, a regular contributor to NPR ...more
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