Practice to Deceive by Ann Rule (October 2013)

Publication Date:
October 2013
Gallery Books
$17.77 Hardcover or $10.10 on Kindle

Reviewed by:
On November 20, 2013
Last modified:November 20, 2013


Doesn't even come close to the Ann Rule that many say set the standards for the true crime genre.

Practice to Deceive by Ann Rule
Buy It Not On Amazon

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.

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4 Responses to “Practice to Deceive by Ann Rule (October 2013)”

  1. Dana says:

    I actually did enjoy this Ann Rule book and I didn’t buy her most recent book right before this one. Before that, I’m pretty sure I own every Ann Rule book ever written. I have noticed for years that her books have not been quite as good but some of her early ones were the reasons I became a true crime reader.

    I didn’t read the one right before this because I had heard that she had become intimately involved with the victim’s mother and was trying to help her prosecute the person whom she thought killed the woman. (I think the authorities thought it was a suicide or something). Anyway, I didn’t want to read a book that didn’t really have a conclusion to it.

    So having said all of that, I was REALLY looking forward to this book because it would be my first Ann Rule true-crime book in quite awhile. I have to say that I did enjoy it but maybe my expectations have been lowered?? I don’t know.

    I am forever trying to find some good true crime books for my Kindle. More often than not lately, I have been disappointed. There used to be only a handful of authors but you knew you could count on them to write good comprehensive books that made you look at the psychological aspect of why killers end up killing and why we trust people that everyone else can see is bad bad bad.

    I usually do read the reviews for the books before I buy them and I usually don’t buy kindle books that are over $7 but I broke both of my rules for this book and I guess I’m kinda glad I did. I would give it a good solid three stars myself…

    Love your reviews! (I just found this blog and that’s why I seem like a crazy person and I’ve commented on three different blogs in the last half hour…)LOL

  2. Kim Cantrell says:

    Hi Dana, glad you enjoyed it! And thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I know my likes aren’t everyone’s so it’s always nice when someone comments with their thoughts on book to help readers make an even more informed decision. Thank you so much for taking the time to do so. :)

  3. Ellen says:

    I have also read all of Ann Rule’s books and have usually enjoyed them. This book is taking me a long time to get through and although I’ve made it through 2/3rds of the book, I’m still looking for a motive or some way to bring everything together. The book seems to have no hooks or high points but just drones on with more descriptions of the trials and tribulations of Peggy Sue. There’s only been one book that I’ve ever put down before finishing but this book may become the second on that list. I wouldn’t recommend the book but suggest catching the episode of Dateline or whatever show it was that did a story on this murder.

    • Kim Cantrell says:

      I agree, Ellen. Everything didn’t come together nicely, creating a clear picture of motive, as is the case with her earlier books.

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