Honoring Ann Rule: Five Must-Reads For Any True-Crime Fanatic

Ann Rule

True-crime author, Ann Rule has died at the age of 83. Her daughter confirmed to the press that her mother’s health had been declining in recent years.

Many of your know Rule from her chilling 1980 book The Stranger Beside Me, which chronicles her friendship with serial killer Ted Bundy. Rule went on to write dozens of best-selling true-crime novels and offered her expert insights for several Investigation Discovery documentary series.

In honor of Rule’s amazing contributions to the true-crime genre, we share 5 of her works that all true-crime loves should read:


Photo: Amazon.com

1) Practice to Deceive

Rule expertly weaves together a chilling tale about drama, greed, sex, scandal and murder. All set on an eerie island off of coast of the Pacific Northwest, Practice to Deceive is one of Rule’s best-selling works.

rule-dead by sunset

Photo: Amazon.com

2) Dead by Sunset

Another fan favorite, Dead by Sunset follows the twisted and deadly ways of a seemingly charismatic man. Could the perfect husband actually be the perfect killer? Rule’s gripping account creates a remarkable tale of multiple marriages, fanatical manipulation and monstrous acts.


Photo: Amazon.com

3) Everything She Ever Wanted 

Once again Rule displays her keen ability to draw readers into a story of obsession, murder and betrayal. Rule keeps us guessing with Everything She Ever Wanted. Is Pat Taylor a sweet southern charmer or a cold-blooded killer? Or both…


Photo: Amazon.com

4) Small Sacrifices 

Rule continues to challenge our view of the perfect woman with Small Sacrifices. Dian Downs did the unthinkable when she shot her three young children in cold blood. What destructive and powerful forces could drive a gorgeous young mother to commit such dark deeds?


Photo: Amazon.com

5) The Stranger Beside Me 

The work the launched Rule’s career marks our top pick. The Stranger Beside Me gives unparalleled insight into one of the most twisted and notorious serial killers of all time. We all know Bundy was a charmer, but Rule’s account reveals just how manipulative the “Angel of Decay” could be to even his closest friends.

Be sure to watch Investigation Discovery on Saturday, August 1 from 6AM EST to 11AM EST as they honor the late scribe with a marathon of programming highlighting her work and contribution to the true-crime genre.

Share your favorite Rule work in the comments below!

Main photo: Photo by Peter Power/Toronto Star via Getty Images

  • finnmorgan

    honoring ann
    Read More

  • Dottie WhiteTrashGal

    “And Never Let Her Go: Thomas Capano The Deadly Seducer” This was the definitive book on this murder, for me. Beautifully written with skill and sensitivity, it’s one of Rule’s best, in my opinion.

  • Realiltyaddict11

    First, Sorry if I offend but calling TRUE crime books a novel is a pet peeve of mine. Novel’s are fiction, TRUE stories are non fiction. With that said, Thank you for this. I was fortunate to meet Ann in 05 and she was a gracious lovely lady. God speed Ann xo

  • Rae Burgess

    Please, Emily Kaiser, learn the difference between “fiction” & “non-fiction”. A TRUE CRIME chronicle is non-fiction, hence the term “TRUE CRIME”. A “novel” is fiction. Ann Rule wrote true crime. She didn’t make the stories up in her head.

    • Victoria Wittmaack

      Actually Ann Rule did write a fiction novel called “Possession”

      • Rae Burgess

        Yes, I know. But that isn’t what this article is referring to. One fiction novel is not “dozens of true crime novels”

      • Carla Johnson

        Just don’t pay attention to someone posting like this. I come here once in awhile to talk and here different takes on true crime books and crimes that haven’t been solved yet. Not to be told how dumb I am. Is this site going to allow this?

    • Carla Johnson

      I don’t think there is any reason to be hateful and mean to someone who just got mixed up on fiction or non fiction and most people are just average people, not an expert as you must think you are. Ann has just passed away, let’s be nice to each other, after all it is what she would have wanted. She was a sweet and very talented woman!

      • Kevin Brewer

        I agree Carla. Ann would of said the same thing. What I like about Ann was I think she knew who would be reading her books, meaning she wrote to where everyone could understand it

  • Shawn Shawn Durrant

    I’ve read so many Ann Rule books that I can’t just pick out a favorite one. I got drawn into each and every book I was reading!!!!! I’ll just say that the world lost the best True Crime author (IMO) there ever was!!!!!

  • Lisa Ware Wooldridge

    “If You Really Loved Me”-my favorite. Guy gets his kid to take the rap for his murder of his wife/her stepsister-crazy!! TV movie came out that was actually really good.

  • Paula Reynolds Snoddy

    i got hooked on Ann Rule books when I picked up a novel written by her under a pen name. I believe the title was OBSESSION, but I can’t remeber the name she wrote it under. I was in line at a grocery store where they had a few books displayed.

    • Kevin Brewer

      Paula that might of been a book I haven’t read. Can u find out the pen name she wrote under

  • Genia W-m

    Awwwww…I didn’t know she died. She was my all time favorite crime writer!! She made you feel like you knew the victim. I’m going to record this special too.

  • Cathy Anderson- Stowitts

    Every book she has written I have read 3 or 4 times. Love her writing. Condolences to her family

  • Carla Johnson

    Ann Rule was the best true crime author there was and is. I have visited so many sites that I belong to and her private club that I am in. There are just a very few of us but that is way better than too many as that can eventually cause problems. I know we all miss her so much and it still seems surreal to me. My books are autographed and I cherish them and the times when we talked when I live in the PNW. I know we all feel the same. I agree with the books that were chosen here that are ‘have to reads’ but there are many more too.

  • Kevin Brewer

    There are so many. I think the Stranger beside me, has to be the best since she worked with Bundy
    She was very candid about Bundy, even to say she would of trusted him to babysit her kids. Ann had alot of morals though. She could of wrote about every case but declined to do so. Point in case, Paul Bernardo, and Karla Homolka. She said that she could never write about it. Years back I sent Ann my hardback 1st editions, she autograph them and always had a special phrase or two to add. Remarkable lady that will be miss. She was a police officer, an author, and her joy her children. RIP my dear lady, you can’t be replaced. Final note, on her website she used to do updates on the books she had written. Telling her readers about how Diane Downs kids were

  • Seatrice Rostenbach

    Loved this lady’s books because she really put a lot of detail and research into them so you could see the backstory of each situation, the circumstances, and the people, cops, victims, family, behind each case, which kept me reading her since she wrote The Stranger Beside Me. It was chilling. But I now know how you can interact with someone who is charming and looks and seems normal – until you are shocked to find out different.
    Like I was when I met Pissy (a nickname he acquired) when I worked at a cabstand. He showed up just before dawn asking for a cab. I worked the early shift. That early the stand can be deserted after the night guy leaves and before the day drivers check in. But Pissy seemed non – threatening. His cab pulled in and he went on his way. Only strange thing was him asking how many kids I had and if they were boys or girls.
    We met again at the mall in Waukegan, IL, where I also worked.
    When I left work at about 10pm, I saw him sitting in his car. I figured he was waiting to give a ride to somebody. I was waiting for my then boyfriend to arrive and pick me up. Though usually not late, he was this night. I watched as the parking lot slowly emptied of all but a few cars. I got a strange feeling when “Pissy” was still sitting there alone, so I went back inside the mall to wait. Shortly, my boyfriend pulled up and I got in the car. As we pulled away. I noticed that Pissy peeled off, too. He was still alone. I briefly wondered what the deal was, then thought no more about it. Until a couple months later, when a nine year old girl who was last seen with him came up missing and he and a retarded female accomplice took off on a tri-state rape and murder spree, that is.
    That first 9 yo child was found shortly thereafter, in an abandoned building, which I walked past on my way home every day I had a shift at the cab stand. When I passed it I kept thinking that little girl might be in here. When she was found in there, tied with wire, raped, and strangled to death, it hit me hard. That was when I realized why, this seemingly mild mannered, charming, small, skinny man might have waited so long at the mall entrance that day, only to speed off.
    You see, I had taken him to task earlier that day about his trying to rip off something at the store where I worked. A cuss word or two came out of my mouth. He put it back and smiled it off as he left the store, but the smile never reached his eyes. Was he waiting for an opportunity to get even?
    What do you think?
    His name was Alton Coleman.
    RIP, Ann.

  • The Divine Miss M

    I can’t believe there’s no mention of “If You Really Loved Me”! The Cinnamon Brown case has fascinated me for years.

  • KBell143

    You must read The Stranger Beside Me & Small Sacrifices!