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Winter of Frozen Dreams

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  368 ratings  ·  38 reviews
The story of the sensational Madison, Wisconsin, murders that stunned an entire community. Karl Harter unravels the grisly plot surrounding Barbara Hoffman, college student turned prostitute, whose cold-bloodied ambition would lead to an almost perfect crime. 25 black-and-white photographs.
Paperback, 337 pages
Published October 1st 1992 by Pinnacle (first published October 1990)
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Average rating 3.68  · 
Rating details
 ·  368 ratings  ·  38 reviews

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Nicole Bunge
I found this, strangely, because someone made a comment about one of the local 'massage parlors' on facebook: The Rising Sun. (Which, like the Geisha House, is still in business.) It was a 'yeah, you ever hear about that lady that worked there who murdered two clients?'

I've lived in Madison since 2000 and even with the film of the same name starring Thora Birch making the rounds of festivals back in 2009, I never heard about this case.

Anyway, the book doesn't stand up that well as a true-crime
Jun 06, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-in-2009
Tells the tale of the most infamous Madison, WI murder case. In the 1970s Barbara Hoffman, a bright university student turned massage parlor sex worker, manipulated two men and then murdered them for their money. However, Harter manages to make this story tedious, and hardly touches on the drama filled trial - which was the first televised trial un the U.S. Additionally, the sex scenes read like the fantasies of an adolescent boy.
Jan 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: true-crime
The murder takes place in 1977. The book was written in 1990. The murderer is Barbara Hoffman, a message parlor therapist who murders two of her clients. While the book is based on a true story, at times it reads like fiction and at times it seems more like erotica. There is a lot of detail to the story that seems embellished, such as thoughts of the murdered man and at times he will preface a sentence by saying 'they must have been thinking …. It was interesting to learn about the seamy side of ...more
Jul 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
One semester shy of a bachelor’s degree and a promising career in science or medicine, a beautiful, quiet University of Wisconsin biochemistry major with a 3.9 GPA and a tested IQ of 145 drops out, becoming entangled in a lurid underworld of drugs and prostitution that author Karl Harter portrays vividly along with the trial that sends Barbara Hoffman to prison for a murder the prosecution later discovers she probably didn’t commit.

Fans of Rider Haggard’s novel She will recognize in Hoffman the
Feb 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars. I thought the author embellished an awful lot, which made it seem too fictionalized. I remember the trial in the summer of 1980, since it was televised, and my co workers & I would discuss it during our 4p-9p shift. The real mystery involves Barbara Hoffman's family, and why they did not attend her trial, other than to offer perjured testimony. I was not clear if the ending was the author's guess at what happened or if this really happened or what. Telephone records! Wisconsin Bell! K ...more
Karen C
I liked the book. I like true crime and am always fascinated by what people will do. But I wish the author hadn't been so vulgar in his descriptions. I do not feel it was necessary and found it offensive. ...more
Ronnie Cramer
Sep 19, 2015 rated it liked it
An interesting chronicle of a 1970s double murder case in Madison, Wisconsin. The accused met her victims while working in various massage parlors, so there's no escaping the seamier elements here--but the language and descriptions might be off-putting to some readers.
Kathy B
Sep 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Because I live in Madison, I greatly enjoyed this book with its local references and persona. I didn't find it as dry as other readers did; I think it is hard to make nonfiction poetic and flowery :). ...more
Robin D
Dec 05, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who wants to read true crime with a tabloid flair!
True crime story with a healing helping of sex and drugs. Read like a pulp novel from a drugstore. Great quick and trashy read. Interesting story that they are currently turning into a movie.
Jan 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
just started reading it. sounds like it will be a good book to read. was a interesting book
Jan 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was very informative. It was so finely detailed that it read very much as a text book. It reminded me of a Truman Capote book. Very dry.
Apr 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Well written and researched.. My only complaint would how graphic the sex acts are portrayed.. Unnecessary.
Colin Garrow
Sep 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
When a man turns up at a police station on Christmas Day saying he has buried a corpse, police are led to a naked body dumped in a frozen snowbank. Claiming that he and his fiancé, Barbara Hoffman, discovered the stranger in her apartment, Jerry Davies insists they know nothing about the dead man. However, when police begin their investigation, they uncover a tale of deception, insurance fraud and cyanide poisoning.

In any true-crime story, we expect certain things: references to police reports,
Carol Palmer
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
This true crime book was about 2 murders that were committed back in the late 1970's. Although I was a young adult at the time, I do not remember ever hearing about this crime, so everything in the book was new to me. Although the events were rather complicated and convoluted, the author did an excellent job of relaying the facts in a logical, easy to understand manner. He also did a good job of making the story interesting. I enjoyed it, and I would recommend it to others who enjoy true crime n ...more
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Two men are dead. The circumstances so bizarre they read like fiction authored by a writer that has had one too many. But this is a true story. One woman working in the sex trade can turn men into puppets. This book allows you to look inside the "massage parlors", see a "masseuse" manipulate lonely men to do the unthinkable, and remain aloof during the investigation and trial. Everyone that Barbara Hoffman touched was changed forever, but she remains a mystery. ...more
Nov 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a very interesting book. Probably helped that I was born and raised only 60 miles from where the crime took place, Madison, Wi, and that my son attended college there, although not during this time period.

It was one of those books that I couldn't wait to return to. Well written and easy to follow. This is an older book, 1990. I'm not sure how I missed it when it came out, but I'll glad I found it now. True Crime readers should read this book.
May 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Interesting story. But the central character has never granted an interview, so it's hard to get a handle on her. The best part of a true crime story is some attempt to elucidate the "why." If you're looking for an explanation, you won't find one. The writing is also more florid than it needs to be (sweat popping out like translucent kernels of corn?). I borrowed this and kind of glad I didn't buy it. ...more
Sep 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm fascinated by all abnormal psychological types, and psychopaths are the most mysterious of all.
Why do they do the stuff they do? How can they never suspect they will be caught? This book plumbs the story of a brilliant, icy woman who poisoned two men that she had taken out huge life insurance policies on. It's amazing to me how she ever thought she would get by with it.

An excellent and compelling book.
May 23, 2017 rated it liked it
An interesting book, I'd like to know the "end of the story" as it is stated Hoffman says she didn't do this. It's always fun to read books mentioning the area you live in. I must have been under a rock during these years, because I knew nothing of this story at all.
The language was a little uncomfortable, I would not read it again....
Jan 03, 2021 rated it liked it
I’ve always enjoyed true crime books and this story of Barbara Hoffman is an interesting one; however, I find fault with some of the words the author chose to use. I consider myself to have a pretty decent vocabulary but words like polemicist and rodomontade make me think he pulled out his thesaurus now and then to select the most uncommon words possible.
Oct 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing Reporting

This book mixes factual detail with suspense and psychological twists that would make a great movie. The final chapter offers a theory that could not have been predicted. I loved this book!
Apr 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

like an old school gum shoe detective novel at first. I wasn't sure I'd even chosen a true crime novel, but then everything became clear. It struck me as unusual, but I think that was due to the time frame in which it was written. Interesting, but not riveting.
OK book.

I thought the book was a bit tedious at times. The story/plot was interesting therefore I kept reading not to be discouraged by the tedious parts. Don’t know anyone that I would recommend it to.
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Meh. I love true crime but this one was a bit boring for me.
May 03, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
this is okay detective/mystery novel. while the body of the book will keep you reading, the closing leaves too many loose ends. fortunately, this was a free download for me.
Jeanette Conti - Baskin
The case did not need all the vulgar language, you would think a writer of true crime would not find it necessary to use fictional street language.
T. Rose
Feb 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wisconsin
Interesting book!

Very well written, a bit repetitious at times, but an engaging story. Suitable for mature readers due to subject matter and language.
Brad Gillespie
Jun 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Strange but obviously true

You are really never sure who killed who, and exactly why. Good book. If you like to try and figure motive then this book is for you.
Apr 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I happened to read about this book in one of the literary newsletters I receive in my e-mail. The book was interesting, but it brought up more questions in my mind than it answered. (Apparently, the book was made into a movie in 2009).

Barbara Hoffman is a brilliant woman from Illinois, who in 1975, and 1976 was a student at the University of Wisconsin studying for a degree in biochemistry, perhaps preparing for a career in medicine. By 1977, she was no longer attending college, having obtained a
Deborah Mitchell
True crime books intrigue me which is why I selected this particular book. A young woman with a history of a's in her college classes suddenly drops out to work at a massage parlor... I had to wrap my head around this. Not only has she dropped out of college, worked in the skin trade. but now is accused of not one but two murders. The trial is the first televised in WI, yet the defendant never testifies. Although I had to continuously look up legal references it is an interesting read. The one t ...more
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