At Mother’s Request

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Frances Schreuder, the youngest daughter of Franklin Bradshaw, and a board member of the New York City Ballet, was an unstable mother who dominated her children: her daughter, whose ballet career was the focal point of Frances’ life, and her sons, Larry, who was convicted of the attempted murder of his college roommate, and Marc, whom she talked into murdering her father.

Franklin Bradshaw, seventy-six years old, a self-made, auto-parts millionaire, was a miserly man who worked every day of his life, in spite of his wealth. He resented Frances’ continual pleas for money with which to support herself on a grand scale.

Franklin’s wife, Berenice, in turn, was a woman who loved to travel and spend money. She had a long-standing love-hate relationship with Frances and could not believe that her daughter had anything to do with the killing of her husband.

Two books have been written about the stranger-than-fiction saga of the Bradshaw family. AT MOTHER’S REQUEST, based on hundreds of interviews, is the more complete account. Readers who are put off by what at times seems excessive detail may prefer Shana Alexander’s NUTCRACKER, a breezier, more concise book. Coleman has less to say about Frances’ life in New York City than Alexander and, unlike her, he was not granted an interview with Marc Schreuder. Coleman, however, thoroughly covers some aspects of the case which Alexander downplays, providing exhaustive coverage of the investigation of the crime, and his narrative is absorbing, despite its length.

Both books have been popularly received, and readers who enjoy true crime stories will want to read at least one of them.