My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I’ve always enjoyed Ann Rule’s true crime, but this one left me wanting. I feel bad saying that, too, because she recently passed away.
I don’t recall her other books taking the preachy note this one seems to, somehow implying that victims are irresponsible for putting themselves in harm’s way or trusting the wrong people or having lifestyles Rule doesn’t approve of. At one point I was disturbed when Rule seemed to imply a female victim may have inspired lust in her unknown attacker by being attractive and wearing only a bathing suit. I would think a woman with Rule’s law enforcement background would know that rape is a crime of violence and power, not lust, but I guess she bought into the unfortunately typical tendency to blame the victim. If you don’t sit in your campsite, on your long holiday weekend, wearing a bathing suit and looking pretty, you won’t be attacked. What the hell.
The writing is not as tight as in other books. At one point Rule writes about the possibility the victims may have been “killed and hidden in some mine whose existence had been known only to old-timers - now long dead…”, which means, I guess, that these long-dead old-timers must have done it? There was this kind of odd conjecture throughout. I don’t recall that in Rule’s other books.
Also, and this has been bugging me for a decade or more, why are all the cases in Rule’s books so old? The majority throughout the years date from the 1960’s and 1970’s, occasionally the 80’s. I would like to see some recent cases treated with Rule’s deft touch and gift for humanizing the stories, but with her passing that won’t happen now.
Perhaps I’m just irritable today.
Still, Rule’s knowledge of investigative techniques brings a lot to the table as investigations unfold, and her access to detectives and family members and their perspectives has always made Rule's true crime superior. If you like true crime and don’t mind a little judgmentalness here and there, this book is decent to pass the time with.
Side note: The story of the Spellbound intrigued me, and I found another book on that case, Dare I Call It Murder?: A Memoir of Violent Loss. Then I noticed that out of 17 written reviews, 4 of them are from the author, with five stars of course, and repeated links to buy the book as though I’m not smart enough to find it for myself. What a turnoff.