Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Don't Look Behind You by Ann Rule

Ann Rule was one of the most famous authors in true crime.  She gained fame when she published her book, The Stranger Beside Me, about her life during the time she worked with and knew the infamous serial killer, Ted Bundy.  She started as a police officer but when she failed an eye test and had to leave the police, she turned to writing.  She wrote multiple true-crime books, typically writing two books a year.  One would focus on a single case while the other would be a compilation of various true crime cases centered around a theme.  Don't Look Behind You is one of the latter.  It focuses on cases that were solved or investigated many years after someone went missing.

The first case is that of Joe Tarricone.  Joe was an extrovert, a salesman who could sell anything and was a wanderer, always off to a new location and the next big deal.  After many years of marriage and seven children, his long-suffering wife refused to move with him on his constant search for adventure and wealth.  They divorced and the family stayed in New Mexico while Joe took off to Alaska and Washington.  The family was surprised when they didn't hear from him and that surprise turned to uneasiness and then fear as the separation grew longer.  They began to search for him and found that he had fallen in love with a young woman although she insisted she had no idea where he was or what had happened to him.  Decades went by without a clue then an ominous discovery finally led to the unraveling of the mystery.

The other large case is that of Robert Hansen and his wife Joann.  Hansen was known in his area as one of the meanest men around.  His wife Joann turned from a beautiful, vivacious woman to a terrified individual after marrying Hansen.  He beat both she and their children, beating a child from her first marriage so severely that Joann gave up custody of the child to her ex-husband to save his life.  After years of punishment, she decided to divorce and found the strength to leave.  Unfortunately, that was the last anyone saw of Joann.  She vanished and although the entire town suspected that Robert had killed her, he was never brought to justice.  He was even considered a leading suspect in the Green River killings but police never managed to tie him successfully to a crime.

What makes Rule so successful is that the reader feels that she is a true advocate for those who find themselves confronted with evil.  She spent her life around law enforcement, studying the procedures and getting to know those who solved various crimes.  Her empathy for the victims and the innocent bystanders make her books stand out.  This book is recommended for true crime readers.

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