I just recently reread one of Ann Rule’s earlier crime files series and was anxious to her newest Fatal Friends Deadly Neighbors and Other True Cases.
Featuring the worldwide headline case of the missing Susan Powell and the tragic deaths of her young sons at hands of possessive, abusive husband Josh Powell, eight other interesting cases, predominately from the 1970s, are also chronicled; including -
* The questionable accident of six year-old Max Shacknai and the death of his father’s girlfriend, Becky Zahau, which followed within a couple of days. Police initially said Becky’s death was a suicide but the bound hands, the strange message painted on the wall, and more said otherwise.
* Elderly philanthropists Burle and Olive Bramhall were brutally murdered in their Windermere community home. Neighbors and police alike wondered who would do something so horrible to such a well-like couple. The answer was closer than anyone realized.
* When fires continue to break out at the University Towers Hotel, investigators think they know who is responsible but there just simply isn’t enough to arrest him – until he strikes again, in an even deadly locale.
* In 1975, Dina Peterson was found murdered only sixteen feet from her own backdoor. It would more than three decades to bring a man to justice.
* Sue Ann Baker was trying desperately to end her marriage but her husband was unwilling to let her go.
* Wendy Ann Smith was an exceptionally beautiful nine year-old when she went missing from her McChord Air Force Base home. As her family searched, one “volunteer” was a bit too eager to be near her family and they would soon learn why.
The “Queen of True Crime” does a fan-freakin’-tastic job of recounting the Powell case; neatly outlining the important evidence rather than tossing the same old minutiae as the 24 hour news channels. I truly walked away with a clearer understanding of a case I have long followed.
And the Spreckels Mansion double mystery really rocked my boat. This was a case I had never heard of (where have I been?). It’s a true mystery which will remain with me for quite some time and for which I will most definitely be adding to my “updates list.”
Then the pace slows down. Rule throws us back a few decades with old files from the latter years of the 1970s. For some, it’ll be a let down but, for me personally, I love old true crime stories and found it a nice slow-down from the page grippers in the first two stories. Be forewarned lovers of homicide-only stories, there is one story of arson and rape each mixed among the murder mysteries.
It’s been a while since I’ve given Ann Rule five stars but, gotta say, she earned it this time and I’m happy to give it.