On again, off again. That’s how most people would describe the relationship between Russel Douglas and his wife Brenna. So when he was found murdered in his yellow Geo Tracker on December 27, 2003, investigators naturally suspected she was responsible.
But while Brenna indeed acted rather strangely to her husband’s death, there simply was no evidence to suggest she was guilty and detectives found themselves at a dead end.
Until a phone call from Florida changed everything.
With cold cases it’s said that most often investigators have spoken to the perpetrator during the early days of the investigation and such would prove true in the homicide of Russel Douglas.
Peggy Sue Thomas had talked with detectives by telephone within days of Russel’s death and they had found her to be cooperative and giving no indication of deception. If only investigators had known the real Peggy Sue and the evil she was capable of doing – or getting others to do for her.
In Ann Rule‘s newest book Practice to Deceive, the veteran true crime author outlines the homicide investigation that would take detectives from one coast to the other, with a few stops in between.
It’s an interesting story, especially the background of Peggy Sue Thomas which is dotted with tragedy, but when all was said and done, I felt disappointed.
I learned a great deal about Peggy Sue and some about Jim Huden but everyone else, including the victim, were nothing but rough sketches.
Ann Rule used to have a way of making readers feel attached to the victims and rooting for the harshest punishment for the killer by the time one arrived at the trial portion. But not this time, I personally felt rather indifferent.
I don’t like that feeling. At all.
Something was very, very off with this book and, frankly, I’m having trouble pinpointing exactly what it is. I know there was too little told about the victim and Peggy Sue’s co-defendant but there is something else as well. What that is exactly, I’m not certain. Yet what I can say with certainty is, having just re-read early Ann Rule books like Small Sacrifices and then reading this one, the writing style has changed tremendously.
As much as it pains me to say it, I can’t give a personal recommendation for Practice to Deceive. It’s just too highly priced for too little quality.