I can see why this book had popular appeal and shock value back in 1954. Ted Bundy was still just a fledgling psychopath, and Freudian analysis was still a big fad. The word "psychopath" wasn't even in use, and is never mentioned in the novel. Some of the analysis and conclusions are way off base, but William March got a lot of things right. Rhoda Penmark, the eight-year-old serial killer, is quite chilling and convincing given what we now know about the psychopathic personality profile. Born without a conscience, avaricious, charming, manipulative, and able only to mimic normal social behavior in a scripted fashion. March has been criticized for concluding that the "bad seed" was hereditary. I don't think he was saying that. He merely showed how the mother, Christine Penmark, decided on that explanation for her daughter's behavior.The distracting and unnecessary chatter and Freud-speak from the Monica Breedlove character weakens the novel and prevents me from giving it a higher rating. This was my second reading of the book. I saw the film in high school, and then of course had to read the book. Supposedly the filmmakers took the liberty of giving it a happy ending. I don't remember that. I just remember the creepy and convincing performance of the girl (Patty McCormack?) who played Rhoda Penmark. I can still remember her facial expressions. The book does NOT have a happy ending, but the last chapter is perhaps the strongest one in the book.