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Practice to Deceive

Practice to Deceive

3.6 81
by Ann Rule

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#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,


#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 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 the Night, Rule unravels a shattering case of Christmastime murder off the coast of Washington State—presented with the clarity, authority, and emotional depth that Rule’s readers expect. It’s a case with enough drama, greed, sex, and scandal to be called “The Real Housewives of Whidbey Island,” but this was not reality television. This was murder: pure, cruel, ugly, and senseless. And someone had to pay the price.

Nestled in Puget Sound, Whidbey Island is a gem of the Pacific Northwest; accessible only by ferry and the soaring Deception Pass Bridge, it is known for its artistic communities and stunning natural beauty. Life there is low-key, insular, and the island’s year-round residents tend to know one another’s business. But when the blood-drenched body of Russel Douglas was discovered the day after Christmas in his SUV in a hidden driveway near Whidbey’s most exclusive mansions, the whole island was shocked. A single bullet between his eyes was the cause of death, but no one could imagine who among them could plot such a devious, cold-blooded crime. At first, police suspected suicide, tragically common at the height of the holiday season. But when they found no gun in or near the SUV, Russel’s manner of death became homicide. Like a cast of characters from a classic mystery novel, a host of Whidbey residents fell under suspicion.

Brenna Douglas was Russel’s estranged and soon-to-be-ex wife, who allowed him to come home for a Christmas visit with their children. The couple owned the popular Just B’s salon. Brenna’s good friend Peggy Sue Thomas worked there, and Brenna complained often to her that Russel was physically and emotionally abusive. Peggy Sue’s own life has been one of extremes. Married three times, hers is a rags-to-riches-and-back-again tale in which she’s played many roles: aircraft mechanic, basketball coach, the “drop-dead gorgeous” beauty queen as a former Ms. Washington, Las Vegas limousine driver, million-dollar horse breeder, wealthy divorcée. But in 2003, her love affair with married guitarist Jim Huden led the two Whidbey Island natives to pursue their ultimate dreams of wealth and privilege—even at the expense of human life.

Unravel the tangled web woven by Russel Douglas’s murder in Practice to Deceive, the newest heart pounding true-crime tour de force from Ann Rule.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
The reigning true-crime queen dips into the darker side of love and mayhem in her latest microscopic take on homicide. The day after Christmas 2003, Russ Douglas, a father of two who was separated from his hairdresser wife, Brenna, was found dead from a single gunshot wound to the head in his car on Whidbey Island, Wash. But investigators couldn't find the gun, which made suicide an unlikely conclusion. In addition, Douglas' widow didn't seem too concerned with her husband's death. After digging around in Douglas' past, police found many contradictions. Eventually, their investigation led to an informant who tied individuals into the case who weren't even on police radar at the beginning. Rule (Fatal Friends, Deadly Neighbors, 2012, etc.) has written many successful true-crime books and has a following that is both devoted and legion. But in the past decade, the writer, who calls the Northwest U.S. home, has fished in her own waters so much that many of the quasi-local cases she covers are less than extraordinary. Although it received national publicity, the Whidbey case isn't particularly compelling, and the investigation, while dogged, isn't brilliant. While the crime's particulars might be fascinating to Whidbey residents and friends of the participants, in Rule's hands, they're underwhelming and dull. The author includes every minute case detail, including false leads, and a large portion of the book is based on background information that has little to do with the actual homicide--including a detailed description of the death of one of the participants' stepmothers, who died many years before the participant's birth. Rule's die-hard fans may be enamored, but other true-crime fans won't find much more than a yawn lurking between these pages.

Product Details

Pocket Books
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 6.60(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

Ann Rule is the author of thirty New York Times bestsellers, all of them still in print. Her first bestseller was The Stranger Beside Me, about her personal relationship to infamous serial killer Ted Bundy. A former Seattle police officer, she knows the crime scene firsthand. For more than two decades, she has been a powerful advocate for victims of violent crime. She lives near Seattle. Visit her at AuthorAnnRule.com.

Brief Biography

Seattle, Washington
Date of Birth:
October 22, 1935
Place of Birth:
Lowell, Michigan
Creative Writing Program, University of Washington

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Practice to Deceive 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 81 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a huge Ann Rule fan and pre-ordered, but this is her worst book I have read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a huge Ann Rule fan so when I saw this I had to preorder it. Normally I love her books but this one was a tough read for me. The story was not an easy read because it bounced around so much. That was my main disappointment. She did great research into the childhoods of the individuals involved which I always enjoy.
mysterybook_nerd98 More than 1 year ago
* I received a copy from the publisher via netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I found this to be an engrossing read except for the parts when she veered off onto other crimes. I tended to lose interest whenever that occurred. However, when she stuck to the crime on Whidbey Island I found the book hard to put down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read every single Ann Rule book, and eagerly anticipate her new ones. It was disappointing to read this one. It was choppy and difficult to follow. I didn't feel like she really made me feel a sense of empathy, or loathing, as she usually brings her characters to life. The last 2 books of hers just did not keep me reading. I am not sure what is going on, but, if you read some of her earlier works, such as Small Sacrifices, you will feel the difference.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a big Anne Rule fan and have read everything she has written..... i got hooked years ago with True Crime magazines, this book was different ..... full to overflowing with stories and history that was interesting, but unrelated to the crime and unnecessary to the story..... i for one enjoy and soak up reads that introduce human nature of all kinds but i can see where many people might not enjoy the loadup of unrelated info.....
reilly1 More than 1 year ago
Least favorite of all her books. VERY disappointed. Way too much detail about minor characters. Perhaps not the best story to have written a book about. I absolutely would NOT recommend. I have read ALL her books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love Ann Rule's books. This one kept my attention. I like the way she delivers the facts!! Another great book on the Nook is the novel, "The Partisan", by William Jarvis. Both books deserve A++++++
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
always loved Ann's books. This book was not her best.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The writing was not as detailed of all involved in the case. Took too long to get into lives of the main characters .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not my favorite Ann Rule. Just couldn't feel for the characters. But, I still will read anything she writes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I almost didnt huy this book. The last few from Ann Rule were somewhat lacking, however  being a fan for years I really had to read it. I must say I was disappointed. What is lacking in my opinion is the fire in which the author wrote. She immersed herself into a story because the stories gripped her. She had a passion and it came through. I don't feel that anymore. Maybe the work and the circumstances finally became too much? And maybe her publisher expects a certain amount of books per contract?  Whatever the reason, the stories have become dry and almost rote. Im still a fan but I think I will skip any further attempts
BrandyGirl More than 1 year ago
A very good story about what one family went through with all their hardships. Hard to believe one family had to endure all of this. On top of everything else, this senseless killing. It made me keep asking why.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have been a fan of Ann Rule since the first book of her's I read. She is from the Northwest as I am so many of her cases are one's that have been in the news here. She has the connections to have so much inside information & always writes in a way to make an interesting book rather than just presenting legal facts. Although this is not the most exciting case she has ever presented it does not disappoint.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Is this book written by THE Ann Rule? I have read many of her books in the past and this book is nowhere near to the quality of the others. It is choppy and disjointed and suffers from lack of focus. From one paragraph to the next it is hard to keep track . There are huge sections that sound like they should be in another book entirely and have no relationship to this story, except that some of the people are related.  There was no special intrigue that usually is included. in her books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'd like to see B&N be more clear on the genre of the book. Would have bought it anyways because it was a book club choice, but I am more into fictional stories- and not Dateline type crime reports. For me it was extemley boring- but if you like reading real life crime stories- this will be right up your alley.
Ann89 More than 1 year ago
This is another super good book from Ann. I neer miss reading any of her books. I read this in one and a half days because I could not put it down.
KiahJT More than 1 year ago
Best of Ann rule
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The outstanding talent of Ann Rule never disappoints! Being a follower of her writings for so many many years has been grand. Come, join in, read this and all of her works to experience the wonder of Ann Rule.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Try some back bends or front hand springs
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
whatsnew More than 1 year ago
Bought this for my wife as she is a Ann Rule fan,but come to find out she had already purchased this book in hardback. Oh well!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Repetitve and lacked drama and suspense.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anne r