Friday, December 27, 2013

review: practice to deceive by ann rule

This post contains affiliate links.

The Christmastime 2003 murder of Russel Douglas captured national attention, but was headline-making in the Puget Sound region (where I live) where Douglas’s body was found. What attracted so much attention, as documented by Ann Rule in Practice to Deceive, was how long it took for anyone to be convicted of murder despite immediate suspicion falling on Douglas’s estranged wife who has never been charged with any crime related to his death. With questions still remaining and the October 2013 publication of Practice to Deceive coming shortly after the February 2013 plea bargain of one of the defendants, much of this true crime novel delves into the backstory of that defendant, Peggy Sue (Stackhouse) Thomas, a thrice-married former beauty queen. Rule goes so far into the past with the 1963 murder of Mary Ellen Stackhouse, the first wife of Peggy Sue’s father, that I actually forgot for a while that the book was supposed to be about Russel Douglas. Although the victim, Douglas becomes almost an afterthought to the sensational story of the wealthy woman who helped orchestrate his murder.

About the audiobook: It was distracting that Anne Twomey sometimes referred to Russel Douglas’s vehicle as a Geo Tracker or a G-E-O Tracker (at one point it’s also said to be a Chevy Tracker, but that mistake would fall to Ann Rule). Overall though, Twomey was an excellent reader who correctly pronounced the names of Pacific Northwest cities (not all readers do). Simon & Schuster Audio published Ann Rule’s Practice to Deceive in October 2013. It runs nine hours.
Review copy provided by Audiobook Jukebox.


  1. As a member of the Stackhouse family I cannot agree more that this story shifted more about my family and less about Russel Douglas. I have always admired Ann Rule's writing and I wish that this book had been split up into two. I do know this: my mother Mary Ellen Stackhouse would not have wanted a book written with so much unresolved sadness; she would want to know that the family she so dearly loved would have found comfort and healed---as I have. Sadly, this book does not reflect much of that and I can only say that that is not Ann's fault as she worked with what was given to her.
    Lana M. Galbraith

    1. Dear
      Lana, Your mother would be so very glad how well you all have really done. Yes, your youngest
      brother died protecting others and your beautiful sister
      Brenda died by suicide which isso u fortunate. If
      Rule were still living she would applaud all of you and your mom who so valiantly protected sll of you even while dying. I am looking forward to reading the book
      Ann wrote you are writing and publishing about your family. Please compete it so all can benefit from the healing you as a family are choosing to allow which is the most wonderful tribute to your mother and her love for you and your dad.