The book contains nine stories, two novella length and the rest ranging from twenty to fifty pages. The first story is one of the most infuriating and the most tragic. In Fire and Ice: The Powell Family Tragedy, the devastating second act could have been avoided if the Utah police hadn’t been afraid to act. The Washington police working with them seemed to think there was enough evidence for an arrest, but couldn’t act without cooperation from Utah. On top of that, if this story doesn’t convince you that the child protection system needs to be revamped, nothing will. I’ve never read a something that made me so angry or upset me so much. When I finished it, I was torn between sadness and wanting to hit something.
Two Strange Deaths in Coronado involves the deaths of a young boy and his father’s girlfriend. These deaths happened within forty-eight hours of each other, and remain unsolved. Fire! is the most boring of the compilation. Nothing really happens except for a few fires being set in a hotel, and I didn’t find the story worthy of a true crime compilation.
An Obsession With Blondes and Terror on a Mountain Trail are rape cases, but neither one involved an assailant that the victims knew either personally or from seeing them around town. The Last Valentine’s Day, The Man Who Loved Too Much, and No One Knows Where Wendy Is all fit the format of the book, and are all interesting reads.
What I love the most about Rule’s writing is how invested she is in bringing these victims to life. They were/are real people, and Rule doesn’t let us forget that. She dedicated this book to all the victims whose stories she wrote within the pages. In some cases you can sense her frustration and rage at the setbacks and mistakes made by authorities, leaving them to go unsolved for years or even decades. She doesn’t have a problem asking questions when the behavior of law enforcement and medical professionals doesn’t make sense.
I did feel her writing was a little rushed in places and the book could have been edited a bit better. There are some sentences where words appear twice when another word could have been used instead. Also, as I mentioned above, some of the stories didn’t really fit the book’s common theme, and Fire! could have been left out altogether.
Overall, it was an interesting, quick read, with cases that will stir the emotions. It has a few flaws, but the overarching theme is clear: evil can lurk anywhere and in anyone.