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If Love Could Kill

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Member Reviews

I normally love social science and psychology books that explore the behaviors and thought processes of violent criminals, but this book fell a little flat for me. I’m trying to put my finger on why that is.

The book is a breakdown of ten case studies, where the author treated the women who were often both victims and perpetrators. Within each of these cases, the content became repetitive. I often felt the author was telling us the same thing in different ways, which lengthened the chapters without adding a whole lot of substance. I also felt the content often focused more on the author’s treatment process and discoveries than the women she was treating.

The writing was a little dry, almost like a college lecture as opposed to narrative nonfiction.

The subject matter is important. I think female violence needs to be better understood, but this book didn’t quite measure up to my expectations.

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Thank you Knopf, Pantheon, Vintage, and Anchor | Knopf for allowing me to read and review If Love Could Kill
The Myths and Truths of Women Who Commit Violence on NetGalley.

Published: 02/06/24

Stars: 4


The author shares her personal experiences in conjunction with her education about specific women and their crimes. She also gives her opinion as to the why, etc. they commit these atrocities. She gently points out from professional and lay persons rationale traditional thoughts. Example: Upon hearing a mother hurts her child the general public immediately starts how could she, I never would,etc. No mercy or grace is given to illness.

Motz writes well. The stories (actual cases) varied in comprehensive accepting of crimes and me trying to step back and objectively listen to her. I found this to be eye opening.

I would gift this in a basket with a bottle and cheese.

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I really enjoyed this read, given that I am pursuing a master’s in forensic psych & enjoy this kind of deep-dive into criminality — especially women’s crimes. The author’s own work in the field of forensic psychology gives her a certain “edge” & level of credibility.

Given the “nurturing” role of the female in society, it is hard to grapple with the image of a woman who murderers. However, there is much to be said about this book’s heavy emphasis on the traumas experienced by women, and how such suffering can lead to heinous acts. I appreciate that this book acknowledges that criminal behavior is the product of something in the person’s life; it is (typically) not simply an indicator of evilness or an innately “bad person.” This book further highlights the need to look at people (in this case, women) who commit crimes as WHOLE individuals who sometimes do bad things — often in response to unfortunately life circumstances & stressors. (Note: of course, acknowledging the sources of people’s does not absolve them for guilt or consequences.) This book highlights using a trauma-informed approach to dissect women's’ psyches & crimes.

I found this to be a great read for anyone who is interested in topics like psychology, crime, or feminism.

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If Love Could Kill is a surprisingly compassionate, in-depth look at different types of women who commit violent crime. This book is for anyone who’s ever seen a woman in the news who committed an inconceivable crime, especially against her own children, and honestly wondered, how could a woman, especially a mother, do that? What’s going on in their head? This book answers those questions in a way that looks at the background, emotional state, and psychological development (or lack) of women who have committed various violent crimes. This book is great for true crime fans and those seeking to understand the mental and emotional nature of violent women.
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and do not necessarily reflect the author or publishers.

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A collection of 10 case studies of women who committed violent acts. As someone who is always fascinated by human behavior, I thought it would be an interesting read, and it was. It provides insight into why some women behave in violent and seemingly irrational ways. Sometimes it feels as if you delving into assigned reading for an abnormal psychology course, but, the women and their motivations are always interesting.

Thank you to NetGalley, Knopf, Pantheon, Vintage, and Anchor, Knopf, and Anna Motz for the eARC

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If Love Could Kill is a collection of 10 case files of women involved in violent acts. The book provides a psychoanalysis of each of the 10 women and the why’s for their propensity toward violence. Interesting read.

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A very in-depth look at what drives women to violence. I loved how this author provides different cases and shows how circumstances and environments can bring women to commit horrible acts.

As a mother who has gained a more empathetic sense when it comes to the crimes women commit against their own children, this served as more educational content when it comes to understanding what it can take to make a woman do something so horrific to the ones she loves.

The author also did a great job presenting these cases in a way that did not make the read feel heavy when it comes to dumping a lot of statistics and medical facts all at once (which tend to make lose interest really fast).

Highly recommend this book!

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“The principle of forensic psychotherapy is that we look at the whole person, the factors that shaped them, and how experiences in one part of life ultimately prompted their development and actions in another.”

In If Love Could Kill, the author delves into the thoughts and minds of the women of the world that have committed unspeakable crimes. Some have killed their children, some their husbands. And all have suffered abuse at some point in their lives.

I will admit I did skim read a portion of this as it is a bit dry and is basically a book of case studies. But as someone who devours true crime and loves the ID channel I found these women simultaneously disturbing, fascinating, and sad.

“Every human life is defined by relationships, romantic or otherwise, and the experience of them, both good and bad.”

Thank you to Netgalley, Knopf Publishing, and the author for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Told through the forensic psychoanalysis of several mentally unstable women in the eyes of the criminal justice system, If Love Could Kill is to be handled with care and love. I am so thankful to aaknopf, PRH Audio, and Anna Motz for granting me advanced digital and audio access to this heartbreaker before it hits shelves for the public on February 6, 2024.

Anna Motz, our narrator, author, and forensic psychotherapist, takes readers on a ride through the cases of 10+ women and their horrid upbringings and resulting traumas that led them to commit crimes on themselves, their partners, and their children as a cry for help. Motz covers crimes of passion, perversion, revenge, obsession, and other motivators that led them to act out. The underlying psychological conditions of all of these women stemmed from abuse and abandonment during their childhood upbringings, curating their way of understanding and living as they grew older.

Motz leads with love in her depiction of all of these cases and urges readers to handle them with care, as there’s no place for judgment in these trials, as the women are all serving their time. There are ways to break generational traumas, and that starts with acceptance rather than hate.

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If Love Could Kill is a collection of 10 case files of women involved in violent acts that the author was involved in. The book provides a psychoanalysis of each of the 10 women and the why’s for their propensity toward violence.

Cases were varied and included psychological disorders such as Munchausen’s Syndrome, Self Mutilation, and Erotomania, among others. But in the end it all comes down to the vicious cycle of the abused becoming the abuser after an endless cycle of violence.

I didn’t particularly care for the book inasmuch as I was probably expecting more of a true crime type narrative. Instead, I felt like a student in a case studies class analyzing symptoms, dysfuctions, and therapies.

The book eventually becomes a platform for the author promoting her political beliefs and reforms. Something that I didn’t need to read about. Two okay stars.

I received a DRC from Knopf, Pantheon through NetGalley. The review herein is completely my own and contains my honest thoughts and opinions.

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Many thanks to NetGalley and Knopf, Pantheon, Vintage, and Anchor, Knopf for the free e-book in exchange for my honest review.

This is such an eye opening and interesting read about the criminal justice system's care of and the psychology behind female violent offenders. If you love true crime stories and forensic psychology, think in the vein of Mindhunter, I would highly recommend this!

Each chapter focuses on a different case study blending factual and narrative styles to draw you into the psychology of each woman's story completely while still providing scientific and medical context. All of the chapters are engaging, disturbing and distressing despite the case study format. I never lost sight of the fact that these are actual women offenders housed in prisons and all of them did something horrific to land themselves in their situations.

The author worked in the U.K. for many years, and hides most of the identities, except for a few of the more notorious offenders that you can guess, as the identity is not the focus of the book but the forensic psychology behind the offender. Each of these women ended up in Motz's office and these are her case notes, as she worked at prisons for most of her career as a forensic psychotherapist.

This is such a thought-provoking and engaging read. If your a true crime junkie like myself, you will love it!

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Through ten individual cases, Motz analyzes the societal perception - and impact thereof - of women who commit acts of violence. Much like other instances of archetypes of women, there is little room for grey area; they are either caring, nurturing, patient people OR they are objects of revulsion and "outcasts not just from society but from womanhood." This inability to recognize and explore nuance does damage to the women who engage in violence AND their victims. Using cutting and focused expertise, Motz makes a case for greater depth of understanding. A bit more on the academic side, this is a fascinating, insightful book that I won't soon stop thinking about.

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Interesting and enlightening read on the psychology of and criminal justice systems care for female violence and those who commit violent crimes. I would highly recommend this read to anyone, but especially those on psychology, forensic psychology, and within the criminal justice system. The US criminal justice system has a lot to learn for reviewing and treating these people so we can break the cycle.

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When I was offered an ARC for If Love Could Kill, my interest was immediately piqued. The idea of reading about women who have committed especially heinous crimes brought out the voyeur in me: what drives them? what humanizes them? what hope is there for their recovery? Anna Motz aims to detail answers to all of these questions in this set of case studies.

Motz is a therapist. She has devoted her career to working with women who have been convicted of violent crimes (think sexual abuse, arson, murder [of partners and children]). Each chapter is devoted to one or two women Motz worked with. I appreciated how Motz explored each woman's background, telling how their histories and upbringing contributed to their life perspectives and, thus, their behaviors and actions. Each woman was subject to horrific abuse as a child. While that does not excuse or entirely explain their own actions, it does paint a picture that makes it easier to remember their humanity.

I also appreciated how Motz infused her own experiences into the stories. For example, how she will struggle at the beginning of each relationship to compartmentalize her own shock and feelings about the woman's crimes, how she works to keep those feelings at bay, and how, on rare occasions, she feels fearful of the women she works with.

This book is not for everyone. It is, by definition, graphic, explicit and filled with trigger-heavy content. I enjoyed it (although I always hesitate to use the word enjoy for books like this!) and recommend if this topic interests you. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Tidbit of note:
"According to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), at least one child is killed a week on average in the UK, with children under the age of one the most likely to be killed by another person, and parents or stepparents the most frequent perpetrators. In the United States, in 2020, a total of 255 child fatalities due to abuse or maltreatment occurred in Texas alone, the most out of any state. In that year, California, New York, Illinois, and Florida rounded out the five leading states of child abuse deaths."

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What a fascinating book this was! The stories were disturbing and distressing but the writing was a really engaging blend of fact-based and narrative styles that drew you into the pathos of each woman's story completely while still providing context and scientific and medical grounding for the individual case study. And yet despite the presentation in a case study format, the reader never loses sight of the fact that these are real women facing real challenges - as did their victims. It made for a very thought-provoking and engaging read.

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I feel like another title would have been better. It sort of trivializes the stories in the book. There is not a lot about love here. Abuse and violence and sadness, yes but not a ton of love.

I was interested in the parts that were about the hope for women who committed these acts, I feel like that aspect is often overlooked.

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This book was so interesting! I loved reading it! I wish this would have been published when I completed my masters final paper since I wrote in on female serial killers, this would have been a great resource!! I will likely reference this in my current schooling. Definitely recommend this to those who have a true crime, serial killer interest. I learned a lot in this book!!

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This is the second book I have read recently about women who commit violence, and Motz takes on the more difficult of the two arguments. The other book--The Furies by Elizabeth Flock--looks at women who commit violence when systems (like the police, courts, etc.) fail them. If Love Could Kill follows the cases of women who have committed arson, child abuse, assault, and many other crimes without such straightforward motives. But Motz argues that they too deserve our care and compassion, because these women have often been abused and suffered unimaginable difficulties that shaped them into the people they are. And, no matter what they have done, they are still our fellow human beings and deserve to be treated as such rather than dehumanized as is often their fate in prisons and psychiatric institutions. This was an often difficult and graphic book to read, but one that left me with a well of compassion for those who are often the most reviled or disregarded in our society.

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This was such an interesting book. I think feminists or anyone interested in true crime would love this, it’s very unique and shares stuff I wouldn’t have expected.

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An absolutely fascinating look at the violence women face and commit. It was eye opening to learn in more depth about the relationship between being a victim and perpetrator of violence. Additionally, the hope for the recovery of these women was highlighted throughout.

Definitely a trigger warning for sexual, physical, psychological, and child abuse. However, for anyone interested in psychology, especially of violent women, this is a must read.

Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to read this incredible, gut-wrenching, and inspiring book.

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