“Mikita Brottman is one of today’s finest practitioners of nonfiction that explores the uncertain truths revealed when violence crashes into human life…. Couple Found Slain shows the compounding injustice that results when the criminal mental health system is layered on top of mass incarceration.”
The New York Times, July 7, 2021
COMING FROM HENRY HOLT IN JULY 2021
True Murder Podcast with Dan Zupansky, 4pm
Wednesday July 7: The Ivy Bookshop, Baltimore, 7pm, Q&A with Justin Fenton. By Zoom.
Wednesday July 14: Warwick’s Books, La Jolla, 7pm. Q&A with Sabine Heinlein. By Zoom.
Critically acclaimed author and psychoanalyst Mikita Brottman offers literary true crime writing at its best, taking us into the life of a murderer after his conviction―when most stories end but the defendant’s life goes on.
On February 21, 1992, 22-year-old Brian Bechtold walked into a police station in Port St. Joe, Florida and confessed that he’d shot and killed his parents in their family home in Silver Spring, Maryland. He said he’d been possessed by the devil. He was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia and ruled “not criminally responsible” for the murders on grounds of insanity.
But after the trial, where do the “criminally insane” go? Brottman reveals Brian’s inner life leading up to the murder, as well as his complicated afterlife in a maximum security psychiatric hospital, where he is neither imprisoned nor free. During his 27 years at the hospital, Brian has tried to escape and been shot by police, and has witnessed three patient-on-patient murders. He’s experienced the drugging of patients beyond recognition, a sadistic system of rewards and punishments, and the short-lived reign of a crazed psychiatrist-turned-stalker.
In the tradition of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Couple Found Slain is an insider’s account of life in the underworld of forensic psych wards in America and the forgotten lives of those held there, often indefinitely.
“Few have written more eloquently―and beautifully―about the terror of an institution that makes it virtually impossible to prove their sanity. Mikita Brottman shows the injustices of America’s mental health care system with urgency, empathy and a keen eye for detail. It gives you goosebumps to think that almost anyone could end up in one of these soul-crushing, Kafkaesque machines.”
―Sabine Heinlein, author of Among Murderers
“A stunning achievement. This heartbreaking expose will enrage readers who yearn for a humane and rational treatment approach for those who are found by the U.S. court system to be ‘criminally insane.’ This is not a book for the timid or the weak of heart, but it’s an absolutely essential read for those who demand fairness, coherence and compassion in our treatment of mental illness.”
―Tom Nugent, author of Death at Buffalo Creek
“Mikita Brottman’s COUPLE FOUND SLAIN is a riveting account of a terrible crime and its aftermath. Deeply researched and compulsively readable, Brottman exposes the myriad ways that forensic psychiatry and a calcified system fail Bechtold and others judged ‘not criminally responsible’ for their actions. A gripping investigation that questions not only the sentence without end meted out to Bechtold, but the psychiatric dogma used to justify his continued incarceration.”
―Deborah Rudacille, author of The Riddle of Gender: Science, Activism and Transgender Rights
“Brottman has established herself as a leading voice in modern true crime. She finds empathy in the criminal and shows compassion for those whom society wishes to simply forget. This is not just a well-written book, it’s an important book. A must-read.”
―James Renner, author of True Crime Addict
“Brottman makes a compelling case against the unjust, seemingly arbitrary treatment of those deemed ‘criminally insane’.” Booklist.
“This thought-provoking book adds to the conversations about the role of psychiatric institutions and how society can offer solutions.” Library Journal.
“… smooth narrative populated by a variety of colorful characters… The author’s meticulous research is evident throughout… a quick and intriguing read.” Kirkus Reviews.
Listen to excerpts from the book read by Shanna Van Volt of Chicago’s LumpenRadio and recording artists from International Anthem. excerpt 1 excerpt 2 excerpt 3 Listen to the interview with Jamie Trecker and Jeremy Kitchen here.