From the New York Times #1 best-selling author comes a riveting true-crime mystery set on a sleepy island in the Pacific Northwest: a man is murdered and the long list of suspects includes an aging beauty queen and her boyfriend.
One wintery night on tiny, quiet Whidbey Island off the coast of Washington, Russ Douglas spent Christmas with his estranged wife, Brenna. She agreed to let him visit his children even though they were headed for divorce. He left Brenna Douglas's home in Langley on the morning of December 26, 2003 to run some errands.
But hours passed and the sun set in the late afternoon; Russ didn't return home as he'd promised his children he would. Nor did he come back during the night. On the afternoon of December 27, a couple walking down a rural road noticed a vehicle that had apparently backed into the driveway of a cabin. Since many of the places were vacant during the winter, neighbors kept an eye out for strangers.
Curious, they walked up the cabin's driveway to check inside. They saw a man in the front seat, still strapped in his seatbelt, dead from a gunshot wound to the head. They immediately put in a call to the Island County Sheriff's Office. The dead man was easily identified; it was Russell Douglas. But what came next surprised law enforcement and captured the attention of the entire town when the suspects included an aging beauty queen, her guitar-teacher lover, and Russell's widow, Brenna. With her trademark aplomb, Ann Rule unravels the fascinating story of a murder, a small town, and a number of potential killers.
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Really disappoints! What happened Ann Rule?
Where do I begin? Let's start with the narrator. Monotone and made a poorly written book, poor story line, booring. Stick with what works. Laurel Merlington has been wonderful to listen to. I feel bad for the victim as if a book was to be written Ann Rule is definitely the cream of the crop. Ann Rule really disappoints in this book. It wonders so far away from the storyline and full of fillers. I can't believe I am actually saying something unflattering of my favorite author. Avid Ann Rule lovers will feel really let down. Narrator has dried up cigarette voice.
Not writing this book. Ann Rule should stick to what flows easy for her. You can almost read/feel the pain and depth she herself is having writing it.
A good editor would of given it back and said try again. This one made it through because of Ann Rule untarnished reputation and produced masterpiece after masterpiece and has never presented such a disaster before. Bleeding from the ears.
Requesting a credit this time. So disappointed that I waited a year for this new book and it's here and awful.
Better than the last but not quite up to par
While definitely a step up from Rule's last few stand-alone books, PRACTICE TO DECEIVE is far from the comprehensive Ann Rule that I am used to --- even her shoddier stand-alone books like TOO LATE TO SAY GOODBYE and HEART FULL OF LIES are substantial and the narrative is backed by various interviews with myriad principals.
PRACTICE TO DECEIVE is six of one and half dozen of the other in that Rule takes a much more journalistic approach to her narrative that is reminiscent of her best works like SMALL SACRIFICES and GREEN RIVER RUNNING READ. That is a wonderful turn around from the last few books that, in my opinion, Rule was too forceful with in painting the principals who talked with her to be the most wonderful people ever and the murderer as the most villainous person who has ever lived. Rule is much more even-handed her and I truly had no idea who was responsible for what because the shades of gray were drawn so very well. The shades of gray may have more to do with how muddy the case tended to be than Rule's deft hands but I am happy with the book regardless.
However, this case may have not been the best case for Rule to cover as a stand-alone book. I think Rule wanted a current case and the last trial in this case just ended about 7-8 months ago, but the problem with such a current case is that there are still many questions floating around (specifically the motive) that there doesn't seem to be a real ending. I think this specific case would have made a much better start to her next crime files book, which brings me to my next point: the length. This is a case that covers ten years on its own and there's rich family history that goes back 50+ years and yet the book is very short compared to a typical Rule book. She's written shorter books in the last few years; there doesn't seem to be another comprehensive DEAD BY SUNSET coming along soon, but I had to double-check to make sure the audiobook I was listening to wasn't abridged because it ran at just a few minutes over 9 hours --- compare this to DEAD BY SUNSET that runs over 20 hours and GREEN RIVER RUNNING READ at 19 and some change. Most of her crime file novellas often run 9 hours or more. I feel cheated by the length and also that there could have been a lot more researched to fill in the gaping holes.
PRACTICE TO DECEIVE is well worth the read and I hope that it is a turning point in Rule's style but I also hope that her next book is covers the case she chooses with more breadth and depth.
- Selu Winnenberg