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3.52 of 5 stars 3.52  ·  rating details  ·  130 ratings  ·  50 reviews
Jane Nelson is a loving mother of two who has drowned her toddler son and is charged with his murder in this powerful examination of love, loss, and family legacy. When a prosecutor decides Jane's husband Tom is partially to blame for the death and charges him with "failure to protect," Tom's attorney proposes a radical defense. He plans to create reasonable doubt about hi ...more
Paperback, 250 pages
Published May 18th 2011 by CreateSpace (first published April 1st 2008)
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I went into this book thinking that I had a straightforward mystery in my hands. By the time I was done, I found that "Janeology" is so much more. This book is a surprise, and a very welcome one.

Harrington takes a story that is all too familiar to us -- the murder of a child by a seemingly ordinary young mother who simply can't do it anymore -- and examines deeper issues of responsibility, the power of regret, and the ongoing deliberation concerning nature versus nurture. What begins as a courtr
Jane Nelson a young mother of twins, murders her toddler son. When it is found that Jane was suffering from mental issues at the time,her husband is taken to court for failure to protect his children from her. The book centres around Tom Nelson's fight to clear his name amidst his feelings of guilt over what happened to his son. I found the first part of the book a little long-winded and was wondering where it would go as it seemed a bit repetitive going over and over Tom's lawyer's proposed def ...more
Janeology by Karen Harrington is a book that draws you in from the first page and you can't stop reading until you know what happens. The story follows Tom Nelson through a thorny criminal trial in which he is accused of having not paid attention to the signs of post-partum depression in his wife that led her to commit infanticide, killing their two-year-old son and nearly drowning his twin, two-year-old Sarah.

While Tom is still reeling from the death of his son, and young Sarah is confused abou
Jun 03, 2008 Tony rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone who loves legal thrillers, psychological thrillers, and suspense novels.
If you are looking for a legal thriller that will stop and make you think, "Wow, this could really happen", then you don't have to go any further than Karen Harrington's new book, Janeology. We all are moved beyond words when we see the stories about a mother who kills her children. But what about the husband? Karen takes us into the life of a husband who has experienced the unspeakable when his wife murders one of their young twins. Not only does he walk in an alcohol induced haze as he struggl ...more
Chelle Cordero
Oct 20, 2008 Chelle Cordero rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Chelle by: Karen
I first “met” Karen on MySpace just as she was receiving the first box of printed books from her publisher; I read all of the promos and watched the trailer.

“Ripped from the headlines”… I read the news, I watch TV. I had heard about the horrific times that a parent has hurt a child. As a mom myself, I have shuddered about those moms who “snap” and kill their kids. It was a fascinating premise and I made plans to read the book.

Then ironically in the parkland near my sleepy community a mom drov
Nature versus Nurture; The Complexities of Understanding Human Behavior

First time novelist Karen Harrington's JANEOLOGY is a reading experience so thoughtfully conceived and written that accepting the fact that this is a first novel flirts with disbelief. Not only is Harrington a masterful conjurer of a suspenseful thriller, but she is also a wordsmith able to maintain the reader's attention and involvement in her masterful exploration of the science of psychology, genetics, and the fascination
Jane Nelson "snaps" and tries to drown her two children in the kitchen sink. Her son Simon dies, her daughter Sarah survives, and Jane is placed in a mental institution after being found not guilty by reason of insanity. However, since society can neither understand nor tolerate flawed motherhood, it will go to great lengths to find extenuating circumstances to explain a mother's crime.

Tom Nelson, the stunned and grieving husband and father, becomes a convenient scapegoat. As high-profile cases
Jun 20, 2008 Cheryl rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those who enjoy a solid thriller with an intriguing premise
5 stars!

ISBN 13: 978-1601640208
Publish date: April 2008
Hardcover; 256 pages; $24.95
Fiction; Legal thriller; Paranormal

Janeology is a mesmerizing read!

Janeology is a unique and captivating blend of legal drama and paranormal suspense. Jane and Tom Nelson represent an average American family, with twins Simon and Sarah, and the family dog. But one incomprehensible act forever changes their lives: Jane attempts to drown her children and the dog—and only one survives.

What follows is unexpected. Ins
This book pulled me in from the first page. I couldn't put it down until I finished it. I wanted to find out how this story would unfold. The premise is fascinating.
Jun 20, 2008 Rosemary rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: adults
This novel continues to resonate for me as I contemplate patterns of dysfunction, including some in my own family.
was told this one was really good.
Have you ever seen on the news a story about a mother who killed her own child and wondered 'What would make her do that?' or 'How could she do that to her own child?' In JANEOLOGY, these are the very questions that Tom Nelson is asking about his wife, Jane after she drowns one of their toddler twins. Thankfully, the other survived.

It was a day like any other until a policeman showed up at Tom's classroom at the Texas college where he teaches, to tell him he needed to come home with him. That th
I won this book from a giveaway on the author's blog. I started reading it the day I received it. The front cover calls the book "a legal thriller ripped from the headlines," but that's not exactly the case. Yes, the story centers around two trials, but it delves so much deeper than that. Harrington studies the people involved with these cases as well as their relatives - living and dead. Jane, a mother of young twins, has a breakdown and tries to drown her children - one dies, and one survives. ...more
All those positive reviews down there? Lies. Or maybe people just like crap. This book was crap.

The dialogue was horrible, apparently the author doesn't hear people speaking in contractions.

The characters were confusing and the story's meanderings lacked continuity and control of any sort. While I appreciate the celtic-knot-style of story writing, the chapters shifted point of view so suddenly it left me feeling disoriented.

I was also left not buying the defense. If he wasn't there, and didn't r
I haven't received the book yet, I just received notice I had won. 8/01/11
Just received yesterday, have 3 in front, but hope to start soon. 8/9/11
started this last night. 8/15/11
Finished last night. 8/18/11

Tom's wife Jane did the unthinkable. She drowned their twins. Luckily the UPS delivery man came to the house in time to save the daughter. Jane was found not guilty at the trial due to temporary insanity. Now Tom is on trial for the murder of their son, because the prosecution claims he should
In our world, most everyone has heard about a mother killing her own children. Yet it still does not feel commonplace because we cannot understand what went wrong. Society glorifies familial bonds and promotes the idea of a mother’s unconditional love and particularly special bond with her children. I lived in Houston when Andrea Yates (who was originally sentenced to life in prison) killed her five children and watched the details of the horrifying case unfold. It’s a murder where society almos ...more
When Jane Nelson seemingly spins out of control one day and drowns her son Simon, and attempts to drown his twin sister Sarah, her husband Tom, a professor, is blindsided. And then, once Jane's trial has ended, and she is charged with insanity, Tom faces charges of "failure to protect."

As his attorney prepares Tom for trial, they begin building a defense based on the complexities of nature and nurture, hoping to uncover the precursors to Jane's condition, while at the same time, showing that the
I received this book directly from the author, Karen, who I met in the world of book blogs and I enjoy her blog very much. She has a great gift of writing and insight into her perception of the world around her. I had wanted to read her book for a long time and was eager to get started when it arrived.

It is difficult to be eager to read a story about a mother who drowns her children. But this is not so much a story of the brutality of the murder but rather the brutality of the effect that it has
Books to the Sky
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(We received this book from Goodreads First Reads.)

As grotesque as it may be, mothers murdering their children isn't something new, nor is it all that uncommon (sadly), which is what this book is about.

I found it sad that the father was being tried in court for "failure to protect," and was annoyed that the prosecution's stance was that he should have known his wife better because they were married. It is impossible to know every single thing about a pe
This is a good one…Harrington’s approach to telling this story is unlike any other I have seen and epitomizes the “show don’t tell” doctrine that is so difficult to achieve. The story revolves around the family history of Jane, a troubled woman who has recently murdered her own child. When her husband Tom is accused of sharing the blame for “failing to protect” his attorney creates a defense based on Jane’s genealogy, essentially saying that her family history led to the tragic killings. The fam ...more
Is a tendency toward dysfunctional relationships and violent behavior inherited? Is it learned through what a child experiences and witnesses in the family of origin? Is a dark family history the result of the Biblical edict that the "sins of the fathers (and/or mothers) will be visited upon the children"? Karen Harrington's novel Janeology considers all of these questions...and, to my mind, never definitively answers them or comes down in favor of one explanation over another. I consider this t ...more
n the last half of Karen Harrington's first novel Janeology, protagonist Tom Nelson remembers taking a public relations class in college in which he learned the Principle of Why, the idea of getting answers to questions by persistently asking "why".

Throughout the novel Nelson is dogged by the question, Why? Most importantly: Why did his wife Jane drown their son Simon? and Why is he being accused of being a negligent father and husband, implicated by association in his son's death?

Tom remembers
Amanda Munoz
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. So often we hear or read about tragic deaths--and murders. Janeology brings to attention what we might so easily forget: behind those stories are people. People just like us.

In this book Tom has to grapple with his own changing emotions while wading through the history of his wife's ancestors. Has her terrible crime come to pass because of nature, nurture or even something else? Viewing the domino affect which has taken place brings to light the fact that while w
In Karen Harrington's thriller debut, she woven an interesting tale for a story. When Tom Nelson's wife Jane drowned their twin son, he'd been charged with "failure to protect". Like Susan Smith and Andrea Yates among the others, we'll follow Tom's story on his tale on how he prepared for his own court trial. With the help of a clairvoyant and his attorney, they took us to a quasi-historical journey to both sides of her family. Right down to her genetic disposition and propensity for violent ten ...more
Jane Nelson has done the unthinkable: she has drowned her son, Simon. His twin, Sarah, survives, as does her husband, Tom. Found not guilty by reason of insanity, Jane is committed to a mental hospital. But it's not over.

The district attorney is now pursuing a case against Tom Nelson, claiming that he neglected his children and knowingly placed them in harm's way when he left his children alone with their mother.

What follows is the heart of the novel. Tom's savvy lawyer, Dave, has decided to pr
Shannon O'Donnell
The richness of the writing holds lessons for us all. I was drawn in immediately by her mastery of detail and characterization. So much so, in fact, that I plan to read it again - this time as a learning tool!

As writers, we often wrestle with concerns that there are no new ideas left. We've read (or written) blog posts about it. We try to say things in "new" ways . Here's the coolest thing about Janeology: Karen Harrington found a new idea. This book is mind-bogglingly original and utterly fasci
I'm not really sure what to think of this one. I liked the idea behind the book, and I enjoyed the retrocognition parts (although I don't believe in it), where each person in Jane's past generations were telling their stories. And I found that I wanted each person to just tell me a little bit more. But I expected something totally different...I thought it would be more about the crime, the trial(s), with this information about past generations being thrown in during the trial of Tom. In the end, ...more
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There is nothing new in the argument that mental illness is often (if not always) genetically linked. In this book, a husband's inability to predict that his wife would murder their children (or, anyhow one of twins) is investigated by a lawyer and a clairvoyant who performs a retro-cognition of the wife's forebears. Back we go from one creepy home life to the preceding one, meeting an array of characters we would all be happy to have avoided in our family tree.
It is tedious, and sometimes even
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Verdict? 4 18 Apr 10, 2009 06:58AM  
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Karen Harrington is the author of the novels COURAGE FOR BEGINNERS (2014) and SURE SIGNS OF CRAZY (2013), which was a 2014 Bank Street Children's Best Book of the year and a 2013 Parents' Choice Award Winner.

She is also the author of the adult mystery JANEOLOGY (2008).

She lives in Texas with her husband and two children. Learn more at

More about Karen Harrington...
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