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Practice to Deceive

3.40  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,989 Ratings  ·  300 Reviews
#1 New York Times bestselling author and Queen of True Crime Ann Rule delivers another gripping true-crime story;this time a shattering case of Christmastime murder off the coast of Washington State, with a shocking amount of drama, greed, sex, and scandal and no shortage of suspects.

With more than 50 million copies of her thirty-four books in print, from The Stranger Besi
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Hardcover, 352 pages
Published October 8th 2013 by Gallery Books (first published October 1st 2013)
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In Cold Blood by Truman CapoteHelter Skelter by Vincent BugliosiThe Stranger Beside Me by Ann RuleThe Devil in the White City by Erik LarsonTrue Hollywood Noir by Dina Di Mambro
Best True Crime
259th out of 596 books — 1,031 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Nancy
Nov 02, 2013 Nancy rated it it was ok
When I first started reading this book, I was confused. I thought I had picked up a large print book by accident. No, it was just a publisher trying to stretch a two hundred manuscript into a full-length book.

Repeated information, repeated descriptions, repeated conversations and truly unnecessary information are what fill this book. Why would the murder of a first spouse that happened prior to the birth of the later convicted accessory to a murder matter? No facts were shown, or even hinted at,
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The Loopy Librarian
Oct 20, 2013 The Loopy Librarian rated it liked it
I've been a fan of Ann Rule for years. She's nearly the only true crime writer that I read anymore. She has compassion for the victims and doesn't highlight gore and brutality. But this most recent book felt like it was done by rote. There was very little to surprise or intrigue. For all it's purported complexity, it was really a simple case of a man killed for greed. The relationships were complicated but the case itself was not. It was pretty clear from the beginning who killed Russel Douglas ...more
Erin
ARC for review.

I think maybe Ann Rule is getting tired of her work. She seldom leaves the Pacific Northwest anymore, which means her choices for true crime are slim - other than Stackhouse family's very sad history and the fact that there didn't seem to be much motive for this killing, it was rather routine. She often references herself in her narrative and she relies way too much on exclamation points, which automatically makes me take anything 63% less seriously. In her prime, no one could bea
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Natalie
Mar 17, 2014 Natalie rated it did not like it
This book was terrible and boring. Full of repeated information, too much information about completely irrelevant details, it is clear that she just needed to fill up pages. The story jumps ahead into the future and back into the past with no warning. I found the writing very confusing and thought that this was her first book until I checked. Uses too many exclamation points! Very disappointing read.
Kelli
Jan 21, 2014 Kelli rated it liked it
I'm a huge Ann Rule fan but this book was a big disappointment for me. First of all, the victim and the murderer were barely linked to one another and there was really no motive. The people all had interesting backgrounds, but it just wasn't that compelling of a story. Rule's writing was very confusing at times with her overuse of pronouns. It made it hard to follow sometimes.

I was annoyed off the bat that a detective would actually say: "I think he's dead. He's almost in full rigor." Ummm, any
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Travis Starnes
Oct 17, 2013 Travis Starnes rated it really liked it
The one big thing that stands out for me in this book is the narrative voice Mrs. Rule uses. Unlike many of the true crime books I have read this book feels more like mystery fiction then an accounting of events. In fact, if I was not already familiar with Rule and her style I might have thought this was indeed fiction, and well written fiction at that. She is expert at painting a scene and giving you a real feel for everything that happened.

Similarly all of the people surrounding Douglass’s mur
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Jeanette
Aug 27, 2014 Jeanette rated it liked it
Ann Rule will often list all the characters at the get go, as in most of these cases there are 40 or 50 movers, interviewed by police, witnesses, law and lawyers you name it. And when I read that feature on this one, a single name out of the multiples listed came out at me. Peggy Sue. And my mind went into lyrics "If you knew Peggy Sue, Then you would know why I feel blue" with Buddy Holly. And does it fit.

This is not one of her 4 or 5 star best cases (Dead by Sunset or a Every Breath You Take e
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♥ Marlene♥
Just so annoying and boring I decided to give up after reading 1/3rd. Wth happened to Ann Rule? It seems someone else is writing for her!

There has been such a change to the books that were published over the last 8 years or so. Her last good book was Too Late to say Goodbye which was published in 2007 so quite a long time.

She did have the tendency to be to one sided making the victims out to be angels like in Heart Full of Lies which was written in 2003 but it is now not just that but this book
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Christine Warner
Dec 28, 2014 Christine Warner rated it liked it
Ann Rule is my all time favorite true crime author and I've always enjoyed her books. I like the fact that she digs deep and gets to know the families of the victims and attends the court cases when at all possible. Her writing is always easy to understand and her stories interesting...BUT, for some reason this story didn't do it for me. I'm not sure if it was the approach on how this was written, because it did seem different than her previous works. Or the fact that the story just didn't seem ...more
Rebecca Huston
This latest by Ann Rule stretches over decades and most of the US in putting together the reasons for the murder of Russel Douglas on Whidbey Island. How the investigators tracked down who and why the murder happened is what makes this interesting. However, this single-story book left me feeling rather unsatisfied and the story seemed incomplete. While Rule does remain at the top in those true-crime authors that I will read, this one faltered somewhere. Still, for the die-hard fans out there, th ...more
Phyllis
Mar 03, 2014 Phyllis rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: TV cop and forensic show fans
I chose this book off the new books library shelf because I watch so many TV cop and forensics shows, and the book's cover description sounded like an episode from one of my favorite shows. I really liked the book because the story and the writing were so real, and yet on another level, the story felt like a work of mystery fiction. The murder was not particularly brutal or sensational; the victim was not famous or infamous; the circumstances surrounding the death were hard to grasp for the prof ...more
Lynn
Feb 17, 2014 Lynn rated it liked it
Shelves: true-crime
Practice to Deceive tells the story of the murder of Russel Douglas whose body was discovered in his vehicle on Boxing Day, 2003. Russel had been shot in the head and the officers' initial suspicion was suicide. Slight problem with that theory, they couldn't find the weapon. So who killed Russel Douglas and why?

At one time, I devoured Ann Rule's books but hadn't picked one up for a long time. What I've always loved about her books is how she conveys all the intricacies of a murder case. Unlike C
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Suzie Flohr
Jan 17, 2014 Suzie Flohr rated it liked it
This is worth 3.5 stars , This books was ok but, it took so long before it started to get interesting.
Janis Gilbert
Jan 31, 2014 Janis Gilbert rated it liked it
With more than 50 million copies of her thirty-four books in print, from The Stranger Beside Me, her chilling personal account of knowing Ted Bundy, to fourteen hardcover books— including Small Sacrifices; Green River, Running Red; and Too Late to Say Goodbye—and sixteen collections in her #1 bestselling Crime Files series, Ann Rule is without a doubt “America’s best true-crime writer” (Kirkus Reviews). In Practice to Deceive, her first book-length investigative chronicle since In the Still of t ...more
Nicola Mansfield
Dec 17, 2013 Nicola Mansfield rated it really liked it
What a tangled story of tragedy and crime this was! Not exactly what one expects from Rule, no tale of a serial killer or a brutal mass slaying or even an horrific crime of passion. Here we have an assassination style style murder of a regular Joe that took ten years to solve. The victim was an ordinary guy, loved by most, lead a normal life and hardly anyone had anything to say against him. Unfortunately, because of this we don't get to know much about him; the book is most certainly about the ...more
Susan
Oct 09, 2013 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ann Rule is, of course, the undisputed queen of true crime - but it has been some years since she has written a full length crime book. Although I have enjoyed her true crime 'files', it is good to have another more in depth read. This book begins on Whidbey Island, Washington. Home to sixty thousand residents, the island is a popular holiday resort and also houses a huge duty station for naval personnel. Much of the island is idyllic and the crime rate low.

Two days after Christmas on 2003, a ma
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Lorraine Grillo
May 02, 2016 Lorraine Grillo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
ANOTHER GREAT ANN RULE BOOK!! TRUE CRIME READERS WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED!!

Wow! It's amazing that there are investigators out there like Mark Plumberg that just won't quit until they have solved the case. I can't believe Peggy Sue only got 4 years, that was a huge disappointment. I feel for the victims family because that could not have felt like much justice was received, she should have gotten much longer of a sentence. Brennan should have been charged too, I understand they couldn't link her
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DWood32
Mar 28, 2016 DWood32 rated it really liked it
I would recommend this book to any book lover. It is a quality read. It kept me entertained through the whole entire murder and its case that it took me through. the book followed the detective Mark as he tried to unsolved this seeming less unwarranted murder. In the beginning we get the impression that he is a very vivid and open sexual person who went to swing clubs and cheated on her with both men and women. Yet every other friend and person they talked to said the different that he was a nic ...more
Dan Lett
Mar 07, 2016 Dan Lett rated it it was ok
While well-researched and competently written, this fast-paced tale of a seemingly pointless murder failed to engage me and frequently irritated. While there is the potential for a good story here, Rule doesn't successfully tease it out in this, her 33rd true-crime book. The whole affair feels a bit by-the-numbers.

The main problem is that the investigation and prosecution of the central murder never really got at the truth of things. True-crime stories that lack a satisfying resolution must be
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David
Dec 17, 2015 David rated it it was amazing
If you read any true crime stories then you've GOT to read this one. It both begins and ends with a mystery-- the motive-- only suggested and never proved. Ann Rule hits a homerun with the true story of a man murdered in cold blood in Washington state and the decade long investigation and finally prosecution of his killers. Very little window dressing is given to this tightly coordinated description of the dogged pursuit, the lies, the coverup and the brazen nature of the killers. Rule often giv ...more
Maryday
Nov 06, 2014 Maryday rated it it was ok
Over the years I think I must have read at least a few of Ann Rule’s books in addition to her classics, “The Stranger Beside Me” and “Small Sacrifices.” I picked up her most recent on a whim, mostly because I have a friend who spends time on Whidbey Island, which is the setting for this book. As I read, I was surprised to find that “Practice to Deceive” is so badly written that if I hadn’t seen the name of an established writer on the cover, I’d have assumed the author was a beginner—and one wit ...more
Eve Nolon
Aug 07, 2014 Eve Nolon rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
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
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Sandra
Mar 04, 2014 Sandra rated it liked it
Ann Rule is the perfect author for a quick and compelling read. I grabbed this book from the library because I noticed that the events took place on Whidby Island in Washington State; my mother lives there, and I visited for the first time in the summer of 2013.

Rule takes great pains to research everything -- including side details that are also very interesting, such as other cases the prosecutor had tried, personal details about characters, a rant about a reporter who gleefully disclosed the
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Bobbi
Apr 12, 2014 Bobbi rated it liked it
Love Ann Rule-read her books through high school. I also didn't date or hang with boys-thank you Ann Rule! It's been a while since she's released a full size book so when I saw this on the return cart I was interested.

Basic synopsis is that a man was found dead in a new yellow Tracker on the small island of Whidby in Washington. 10 years later, five states later; cops and prosecutors finally get both their man and woman.

The story here is a bit convoluted and there's a feeling that despite knowi
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Alex
Sep 11, 2014 Alex rated it liked it
I will begin by saying that I liked how this book was written. I have never read about true crimes before, so it was kind of difficult to take the facts as being real. Moreover, such crimes are not at all common around the place I live, for which I am truly grateful and hopeful that this aspect will never change.
I have read some fictional books, watched some TV shows related to crimes, and my personal opinion about the facts related here is that they are by far from being spectacular, but they
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Susan
Dec 19, 2013 Susan rated it liked it
Greed, what we wont do for love. The ID channel had this story a week ago too. Ann does a great job in telling the story of everyone involved with the killers and victim. It is amazing how long it take to bring someone to justice. Thanks to all the people that don't give up on these cases.
Amy
Nov 30, 2014 Amy rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club-reads
A good start, but a disappointing ending. Ann Rule is a master at the true crime genre. The story of the mysterious murder of Russell Douglas was well told. The problem was in the telling of the story of who did it and why. The reader got an extensive family history of the person that the author tagged as the mastermind, Peggy Sue Stackhouse. After that there was a lack of resolution. There was no real reason why Peggy fingered Russell. The motive was a possible financial gain which never really ...more
Nancy
Jun 04, 2014 Nancy rated it liked it
When I first started reading this book, I didn't know how convoluted it would become. The book gave us a lot of insight into the characters (some think only to make the book longer), but I liked the content. I had seen this story on TV (20/20 or 48 hours) and chose to search the web for more information while reading the book. Practice to Deceive parallels the articles and TV programs while providing more background. Strange story indeed.
I didn't particularly like the "newspaper" type of writin
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Debra Daniels-zeller
Although I hadn't read an Ann Rule book for years, I saw this book on the library bet bets table and I was intrigued by the title. Unfortunately, I got 200 pages into it and gave up because I didn't find the murder or the people involved very interesting. Also the book was written like a mystery with a long list of possible suspects, but when I looked through photos in the book I read who had committed the murder, I was even less interested in continuing the book. It was difficult to keep charac ...more
John Lucy
Nov 22, 2015 John Lucy rated it it was ok
I normally don't read this stuff and so wasn't expecting much. I got this book as a Christmas gift. I was pleasantly surprised, however, that I didn't hate it. The story is good and Rule has learned her craft well.

However, I did often feel like there was much more to this story. Rule can't know everything, of course, and it seemed like she was in a time crunch to publish (the trial kept being delayed), but I still finished wishing that I was drawn in more to the meat of the detective part of the
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Ann Rule was a popular American true crime writer. Raised in a law enforcement and criminal justice system environment, she grew up wanting to work in law enforcement herself. She was a former Seattle Policewoman and was well educated in psychology and criminology.

She came to prominence with her first book, The Stranger Beside Me, about the Ted Bundy murders. At the time she started researching th
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