FATAL FRIENDS, DEADLY NEIGHBORS
Most murder victims know their killers. Some were afraid of the stalkers who would one day rob them of their very lives; some had no idea of the danger that waited quietly for them. Stranger to stranger homicides are committed by serial killers and rapists, or during the process of other crimes such as armed robbery or violent home invasions.
Still, the last face the majority of murder victims see is that of someone they know—intimately or casually. And so superior detectives look first for connections, the interweaving of lives that may have led to homicide. Those who are naive and inexperienced prefer to believe that they can discern some hidden menace in those who intersect their paths.
I used to think that. Now, I look back and see how smug I was when I believed I was fool-proof. I had many courses in abnormal and criminal psychology at the University of Washington. After I graduated, I worked at Hillcrest, the Oregon State girls’ reformatory, been a Seattle Police officer, studied for weeks of basic homicide investigation school. I have both attended and lectured at scores of law enforcement seminars, and I’ve pored over what seems like miles of police reports to research thirty-three books and over a thousand articles on criminal cases. After so many years of writing about true crimes, I still haven’t been able to grow a thick enough emotional hide so that sad media stories don’t affect me. And I’m glad that I haven’t; black humor abounds in the homicide units I visit when I’m researching a book—but I know the detectives there joke to keep from crying. The sadder the case, the more they joke.
It never means they don’t care. And I have never reached a place where I don’t care deeply for the people I write about. But I am also an avid student of human behavior, always wondering “how” and “why” lives interconnect in scenarios that end in violence.
Despite all that, as the years have passed, I have come to realize how limited my own powers of perception are when it comes to really knowing what someone else may be thinking. . .or hiding. In this book, the sixteenth in my “true crime files” series, I relate some of the weirdest and the most chilling cases I have ever come across. Some are recent, even current. There are others that I first came across three decades ago. The first two investigations are novella length. The first case is “Fire and Ice: The Powell Case.” This began with the baffling disappearance of Susan Powell from her Utah home in December 2009. A blizzard raged outside on the last night anyone saw Susan. The main “person of interest,” in this case was her own husband and the father of their two small boys.
Months ago, I promised Susan Powell’s parents that I would write her story, and I am honoring that promise. None of us knew then how horrifically the Powell story would play out in 2012. Had I known, I probably would not have attempted it.
The second case—“Two Strange Deaths in Coronado”—is also only months’ old, and it questions why the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office closed their July 2011, death investigation after only seven weeks. There are myriad theories on how and why Maxfield Shacknai, 6, and Rebecca Zahau, 32, perished in a billionaire’s mansion in Coronado, California, both within forty-eight hours. Are any of possibilities the true story?
Copyright © 2012 by Ann Rule
Relentless crime reporter Ann Rule continues her bestselling true crime series with Fatal Friends, Deadly Neighbors.
She begins with two horrifying deaths that occurred in July 2011, where a billionaire’s California mansion was the setting for his young son’s plunge from a balcony and his girlfriend’s ghastly hanging. What really happened? And then there’s the case of Susan Powell, who vanished in a blizzard in 2009. Her controlling husband, Josh, proved capable of a blind rage that was fatal to his innocent small sons almost three years later. If anyone had detected the depth of his depravity perhaps the family would have been saved. In these and seven other riveting cases, Rule explores the twisted truths behind a killer’s mask.
Hardcover Book : 480 pages
Publisher: Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster ( November 27, 2012 )
Item #: 13-656189
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.25 x 1.23inches
Product Weight: 20.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
I usually enjoy her books. However, this one, a collection of shorter articles, was not my favorite. It seems like she skimmed the surface of the crimes but never got into the story like she usually does.
Reviewer: Sally B
I always enjoy her classic works of the reading art. Adds mystery and truth to each story. I can't wait for the next one. A ++++++
Reviewer: Thomas A
Classic Ann Rule. I always enjoy her take on why people do what they do.
I always enjoys Ann Rule's books and this is fascinating in many ways. She brings so much personal info about the people involved and also info that is not available reading the paper or hearing the news.
Reviewer: Carol V
It was ok. I prefer books by Ann rule that had a final ending with the case solved. Not ones where body wasn't found or killer never found. Wish she would write about the male nurse from Indiana Orville Lynn Majors who was killing patients so he could work on intensive care floor- which he was taken off of due to not enough patients. He created more intensive care patients and also killed whiney patients. Was believed to have killed 130 patients in a two yr span. Hope Ann writes about this guy!
Reviewer: Karen F