For ‘Non Fiction November’ my book club really wanted to read a true crime novel. And seriously, is there anyone better than Ann Rule?! The answer is no….no there is not. I absolutely love all of her novels and have read so so so many of them.
However, it’s been years since I have read one of her novels. Like at least 15+ years. I went through a big true crime phase back in the early 2000s and a devoured many of her books but for some reason I didn’t read this one and I am shocked because I have an intimate connection with this book.
My uncle was one of the defense attorneys for the wife in this book and the murders happened right here in my home town, and my dad went to school with the killer. I mean why haven’t I read this book long before now?! I literally have no idea but our book club thought this would be a great read for Non Fiction November!
When young women begin mysteriously disappearing in Oregon, Police Lieutenant James Stovall leads a relentless search for a killer. With little evidence available, and the public screaming for answers, he must find a remorseless, brutal killer whose identity will shock them all …
One by one the young women vanished without a trace …
Pretty Linda Slawson disappeared while trying to make a living selling encyclopedias door to door.
Lovely college girl Jan Whitney never completed her two-hour drive home on the freeway.
Beautiful pre-med honor student Karen Sprinker failed to show up for a lunch date with her mother.
Stunningly attractive Linda Salee dropped out of sight while her boyfriend waited and worried for hours.
By then the pattern was clear. Oregon’s massive police search was under way. But not even Lt James Stovall, the brilliant investigator in charge, suspected how grisly the crimes were – or who the man who killed like a sadistic monster would turn out to be … (summary from Goodreads)
Let me just say right off the bat, this book was disturbing and I mean disturbing. It read like something right out of a Law and Order SVU episode. It has a strong sexual element so it might not be for everyone but it was a fascinating read. This book was much shorter than her usual books and it was written back in the 1980s originally. Many of her other books in the 400-500 range but this one came in at just under 300. I can wholeheartedly say I wish this book was longer and would have expanded more on the killer himself or even the trial portion.
As I said, this book and it’s murders happened in my home town of Salem, Oregon. I drive by the house where he tortured his victims every day and honestly it looks like a typical family home with pumpkins on the porch and kids bikes in the yard. It’s disconcerting to say the least. I know many of the locations in the book and even though the crimes took place back in the 1960s, Salem, Oregon hasn’t changed that much in the last 50 years.
Sometimes real life is stranger than fiction and this was one of those books that just leaves you wondering WHAT THE FU*K IS HAPPENING! Ann Rule wrote with such a great ability to present facts but yet make them not boring. Her books all read like suspense novels rather than true crime. So many true crime books read like police reports but with Ann Rule, she really had such a talent for writing wonderfully suspenseful true crime. I am so sad that she has since passed away because she was a legend!
I also downloaded the audiobook since I knew I was going to be spending a lot of time in my car when I started reading this, save you money. The audiobook is terrible. I had to stop listening when the narrator kept saying the ‘will-a-mutt’ river instead of the Willamette River……it was painful. If you love true crime, Ann Rule is who you need! All of her books are great but if you are looking for a real life Law and Order SVU, this is your novel!
Book Info and Rating
Paperback, Updated edition, 295 pages
Published June 7th 1983 by Berkley Books (first published July 1981)
ISBN0451166876 (ISBN13: 9780451166876)
Review copy provided by personal collection. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: true crime, non fiction