I first read this book in the mid 90s a few years after it came out. I was a twenty year old true crime junkie and I was completely sucked in by the story of Diane Downs and the people who had the misfortune of being close to her, especially her children. Obviously twenty plus years has done a lot to change me, but much has also changed about the way we write about true crime. Still, book is compelling and Diane Downs is equal parts repellent and fascinating
Late one May night in rural Oregon, Diane rushed into an ER stating that a shaggy haired stranger had shot her and her three children in a botched car theft. Diane was left with a superficial arm wound but her youngest child, Cheryl was dead on arrival and her other children, Danny and Christie would live with handicaps for the rest of their lives. Though it seemed unthinkable, police soon suspected that Diane herself had shot her children to win back the married man she was in love with who didn’t want kids. The ensuing trial pitted the law against a cunning manipulator who had no real love for anyone but herself.
My main issue with this book is that Ann Rule seems almost star struck by Diane Downs. I don’t think she admires her but she certainly enjoys her proximity to such a notorious killer. There’s a salaciousness to her writing in parts that I sometimes found off putting. Though her eye for detail and her ability to set the scene where the crime takes place is what made her the queen of true crime. Despite it’s shortcomings, you won’t find a better, more in-depth book on the Diane Downs case.