I went into this knowing that Ann Rule's Crime Files cover multiple cases in one book as opposed to just one. Even though I've been an Ann Rule fan for years this is the first Crime Files I've read the simple reason being that I prefer in depth analysis but I needed a fix from the master. Thus my expectations for this book were far from high.
Mortal Danger actually goes in depth on two cases and gives a once over lightly to three others. The first case tells yet another sad tale of a controlling man who goes off the deep end trying to keep a woman from leaving. Rule has covered this ground before but this time the man in question, "Dr" John Branden adds to the mix by being the disciple of a long-forgotten con-man. Stories like this always beg the unfair question of "why does she stay with him?" instead of the more obvious, "how does this whack job get away with this for so long?" It may take a village to raise a child but it takes a team of true-believers to help the likes of Branden avoid the law: old friends, daughters, ex-patients. These are the people I find baffling.
The next case is more standard police-procedural and bully for Ann Rule for being the rare true crime writer who can handle more than one style. There's plenty of CSI-like action on display in the story of the mysteriously massacred newlyweds. There's also another sad display of both our justice system dropping the ball and the women who bypass Match.com in favor of Inmate.com. I'm all for true-love, the power of forgiveness, belief in the essential goodness of humanity and the power of change but a man who's been incarcerated for a murder, especially the murder of his mother, is not penpal material let alone marriage material. This is a bit of logic deducible even by single-cell lifeforms and therefore also by women named Jennifer who life in bathroom-free trailers.
The rest of the stories give further proof that good fences make good neighbors. Make that electrified fences. In lesser hands these would be worth a few paragraphs in a newspaper but Ann Rule has a knack for showing us the lives - not just the names - caught up in horrible crimes. Yes, she does sometimes over-praise the victims but so what? Ann Rule is about giving the victim equal time with the killer and that's one of the things that makes her books so addictive.
There was one other difference I noticed in this Crime Files book versus her other books, the prose got a little purple now and then. Not a big deal, just noticeable. Even subpar Ann Rule - and this is far from subpar - is exponentially better than most true crime being published today.
I love you, Ann Rule. Never change. But lay off the days that " dawn bright and clear, ok?