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Small Sacrifices: A True Story of Passion and Murder [Mass Market Paperback]

Ann Rule
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 18 1999 Signet
Ann Rule's shocking and powerful account of the destructive forces that drove Diane Downs, a beautiful young mother, to shoot her three young children in cold blood.

Frequently Bought Together

Small Sacrifices: A True Story of Passion and Murder + Fatal Friends, Deadly Neighbors: Ann Rule's Crime Files Volume 16 + Don't Look Behind You: Ann Rule's Crime Files #15
Price For All Three: CDN$ 27.52

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

This searching analysis of the shooting of three children in Oregon by their mother devolves into a study of personality. In May of 1983, Diane Downs drove to a Williamette Valley hospital emergency room with her children, all gravely wounded; one did not survive the first hour, and the other two were disabled for life. Downs initially told of a "bushy-haired stranger" who had committed the crime, but frequently changed her story. Under police questioning she recalled her childhood with a cold, domineering father who abused her sexually, her weak mother, a rape by one of her bosses, her failed marriage and many men with whom she had sex. One of these men, whom she claimed to love, did not want children, and that may have prompted the crime, speculates the author. The greatest strength of this book is the exploration by ex-policewoman Rule (The Stranger Beside Me of the aberrant personality of Downs, who is now imprisoned and not eligible for parole until 2009.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Superb... the most riveting true-crime account since IN COLD BLOOD KIRKUS REVIEWS Vivid... extraordinary... a page turner New York TIMES BOOK REVIEW --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
gency room doctor; his assessment of patient's needs is deft. In his late thirties, married, and the father of young children, he had worked full-time in the ER for eight years. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By lazza
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Small Sacrifices provides the reader much of what one expects from an Ann Rule book: extensive research into both a horrible crime and the rather twisted criminal (or accused criminal). However with this book Ann Rule really fails to deliver unbiased journalism which, ultimately, made me rather disappointed.
Small Sacrifices is the story of a the shooting of three small children, and their very strange (, sick, twisted) mother (Diane Downs) who is accused of the crime. Ann Rule does a wonderful job detailing the events surrounding the shootings, and then tells us ALL about the mother - eg, I now know her nipples cracked and bled while breast feeding one of her kids - ugh!. This is all rather fascinating. BUT then the mother goes on trial and, for this reader, the book makes a turn for the worse. For many reasons ( spoilers here) I found the trial to be a miscarriage of justice - or rather, it was simply an unfair trial. Worse, Ann Rule only details what the prosecution went through in preparing and executing the case. She doesn't mention anything about the defense, other than how the defense attorney is dressed. In the end I felt rather sorry for the mother, which I'm sure isn't what Ann Rule intented for her readers to feel - after all, Diane Downs is indeed a psychotic individual and, undoubtedly, a mother from hell.
Bottom line: Ann Rule is most effective when sticking to the facts on BOTH SIDES of a criminal trial. Unfortunately she fails with Small Sacrifices. Recommended to Ann Rule fans only.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Hungry Like a Wolf" aka tragedy Oct. 5 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I have read Small Sacrifices by Ann Rule several times and every time I finish the book I, as many people I'm sure, was left wondering what would push a mother so far that she shoots her children?!?! The doctors and nurses, investigators, prosecutors and definatly Christy Downs are the heros in this case. Without their persistance, determination and courage, Diane would never have been brought to justice. She has been in prison a long time and I hope thats where she stays because she doesn't deserve her freedom. Ann Rule did some excellent research for this book and it shows! I bought the book because it sounded interesting and it has become my favorite. I have seen the mini series as well! Highly recomend this book/movie to anyone who likes true crime. A definate page turning thriller and despite its 400 plus pages,you will read right through it like there are only 100!! Enjoy and thank you Ann Rule for writing such an awesome book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very well written book about a terrible story Oct. 26 2007
By Becky
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I have read this book so many times that it is falling apart! I was intrigued by the movie and was glad to see that there was also a book about the case. I go along with the innocent until proven guilty idea. So, when I read true crime, my attitude is that I'll decide based on the facts if someone is guilty or not. Almost everything I have read about the case (in this book and elsewhere) definitely proves Diane's guilt to me, which isn't always the case with true crime. I'm reading the book again after seeing some interesting items on Diane's father's website. I thought that just maybe there was a sliver of a chance that she didn't do it. After reading the book again, most of the things he brought up were shot down. He claimed that she was over Robert Knickerbocker. But, Ann wrote about the diaries upon diaries and phone conversations with him that Diane was anything but over him. I am positive that Diane did commit this crime. But, there apparently was a suspect who confessed to his stepmother that he did it. I wondered about that until I re-read the book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Ann Rule's Best June 21 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I first saw this book many years ago in a supermarket while I was looking for something to read. It was when it had first come out in paperback. The only reason I bought it was because I was determined to believe that a mother could not kill her children. I thought there was NO WAY. I bought the book, read it, and gave Diane chance after chance, every benefit of the doubt. When her story kept changing was a clue. But when Christie gave her testimony every shred of doubt was removed. Before that, I knew that Diane was lying, I just could not understand why. Now that I have read more true crime books and studied abnormal psychology, I know why.
Diane was a sociopath with absolutely no conscience. Her father enjoyed molesting her and shooting her pets, and her mother stood by her father no matter what he did. Diane became obsessed with her very wishy-washy married boyfriend "Lew" who vacillated between his emotionally masochistic wife and Diane. He told Diane he would marry her, then told her he loved his wife more than her...he was astonished that Diane blew a gasket at this news. He then took a two week vacation with his wife to Texas, but came back to Arizona and asked Diane to move in with him in his apartment. A lot of mixed messages there....since he didn't want to be a "daddy" to her kids, Diane shot them (blaming a non-existant stranger) in hopes that "Lew" would come after her...but he finally woke up and smelled the coffee.
There are still some things that the book just didn't go into, that I wonder about. Such as...why didn't her other two brothers say anything at all? Only her sister Kathy and and brother Paul were mentioned in the book, but Diane had two other brothers who never came forward to speak.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I couldn't put it down. Have actually read it more than once.
Published 20 days ago by victoria oberhammer
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Ann Rule's best. So well written
One of Ann Rule's best .So well written. A horrible story, but Rule handled it gently and even that monster of a mother was portrayed as a human being with some good... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Eilleen Baker
5.0 out of 5 stars Shocking and Riveting
I had never even heard of Diane Downs or her children and this crime. I decided to try reading a true crime book and see if I enjoyed it and every one seems to agree Ann Rule is... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Leigh
4.0 out of 5 stars how do you rate a nightmare?
well, if you like poking around the mind of a serial killer -- in this case, a mother who murdered/attempted to murder her 3 children -- then this is the book for you. Read more
Published 17 months ago by salsa bandit
5.0 out of 5 stars Page turning thriller, best work by Ann Rule I have seen yet
Small Sacrifices is an excellent book!! Ann Rule does an incredible job telling the tale of Diane Downs and her sick and twisted lifestyle,morals and the consequences of her... Read more
Published on Oct. 5 2004 by Karoline
5.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievable Story, not for the feint of heart
Having seen the TV movie based on this book, and not being able to believe it, or turn it off, when I saw this book at a used book store, I bought it, thinking it would shed more... Read more
Published on Sept. 26 2003 by J. Conn
5.0 out of 5 stars It still shocks
Before Susan Smith and Andrea Yates there was Diane Downs. One day a seemingly normal woman killed one daughter, cripled another and seriously wounded her oldest child. Read more
Published on April 24 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Chilling!
This is the best true crime novel that I have ever read. I love anything by Anne Rule but this story in particular grabbed my attention and just drew me in. Read more
Published on April 10 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Downs was not "railroaded"; Rule's book NOT "biased"
I had to laugh when I read the review from "lazza."
Ann Rule's account of this case was NOT "biased journalism." Diane Downs was not unjustly convicted. Read more
Published on Feb. 1 2003 by Terry M. Callen
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book...Highly Recommended
I got this book on a whim...and I am so glad that I did. It was well written and fast-paced. I honestly couldn't put it down. Read more
Published on Jan. 21 2003 by Avid Reader JKK
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