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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 (68 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.

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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.

Review

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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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
5.0 out of 5 stars Shocking and Riveting Nov. 27 2013
By Leigh TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
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 the best. So I picked this book up and I can honestly say I feel that my life has been changed. I don't know what it is about this story that grabbed me, that kept me reading until late into the night. Not only was it shocking, a mother shooting her three children, killing one and critically injuring the other two, all to get a man. But then to watch and listen to Diane throughout the book. I immediately thought of Jodi Arias as I read her words, the "verbal vomit" as one of the investigators on the case dubbed it. And Jodi and Diane are similar, both constantly changed their stories, Jodi wasn't there, then masked ninja's did it, the final one was that the she shot him in self defense even though he had 29 stab wounds at the time. Diane said it was a bushy haired stranger she never met, then it was someone she knew, then it was a plot by her ex husband. Both women adore the spotlight and having others look at them and most importantly both were madly in love with the sound of their own voices and never shut up, basically digging themselves into trouble. Having no idea about this case beforehand I didn't judge Diane and thought I would give her a chance she was abused as a child, but so are other people and they don't kill. But when excerpts of her diary were revealed in the book there was one statement she made that changed my mind and made me realize that she is guilty. In a letter written to her lover she said "I think I love my kids more than I love you." what kind of mother says a thing like that? Read more ›
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4.0 out of 5 stars how do you rate a nightmare? April 22 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
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. having said this, however, i must acknowledge that "small sacrifices" is much more than a sensationalist account . for one thing, it is a compelling story of how forensic science helped to catch and convict a killer. for another, it is an inspiring account of how one man -- in this case, the prosecuting attorney -- not only persevered against strong odds to win a conviction, but -- and this i found practicially unbelievable -- afterwards adopted the 2 survivng children of the perpetrator, despite the fact that each child was seriously damaged by his/her experience. but there's no question that the "star": of the show is the mother herself whose story is as chilling as it is absorbing. for those of us who think of ourselves as "normal," it's always intiguing , as well as chilling, to venture into the mind of a psychopath. but having said all this, i must add than ann rule manages to tell the story in a thoughtful, sensitive way, avoiding the pitfalls of "tabloid journalism." in short, though i wouldn't necessarily recommend that you take this book on a carribean vacation, if what joseph conrad calls "the fascination of the abomination" is your "thing," then you'll probably want to read "small sacrifices".
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5.0 out of 5 stars A LONE PREDATORY WOLF Sept. 3 2000
By BeatleBangs1964 TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
E. Diane Downs was truly a sociopath. Bitter over an unhappy past with a cruel and controlling father, Diane literally jumped into marriage with the unsuspecting Stephen Downs in 1972. That union produced two daughters and a son.
Daughter Cheryl Lynn, born in 1976 was Diane's scapegoat. Photographs of the girl reveal a somber, unsmiling face and quotes attributed to Cheryl Lynn point out a very sad life with the demented Diane.
Diane was truly demented. She burned down the family trailer with the idea of raising insurance money. She wanted to start a surrogate mother clinic and has a daughter for a couple. (That lucky little girl need never have to worry about having contact with Diane)! Her lack of ability to bond with the newborn and being able to just let her be taken by others underscored her lack of ability to love or feel bonded to anybody.
Her son and daughters knew that all too well. In May of 1983, Diane shot the three children in her car. Cheryl Lynn died, Christie was partially paralyzed and son Daniel remains paralyzed from the waist down. Diane played "Hungry Like the Wolf" by Duran Duran, a song that appeared to describe her accurately. When Diane and her children are rushed to the hospital, she claims a shaggy haired stranger (a classic cliche) shot them all, herself included. (Diane had a superficial arm wound).
Her behavior during and after the shootings is disgusting, to say the least. She has an affair. A daugther is born of this union and fortunately, the child was raised by a family who refused to have any contact with Diane who was on trial at the time of the baby's birth. Over the years, I have prayed for all of her surviving children and hoped that they would have good lives.
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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 (..no 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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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Very well written book about a terrible story
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. Read more
Published on Oct. 26 2007 by Becky
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 "Hungry Like a Wolf" aka tragedy
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... Read more
Published on Oct. 5 2004 by Karoline
5.0 out of 5 stars Ann Rule's Best
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. Read more
Published on June 21 2004 by TawnTawn
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 25 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 11 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
4.0 out of 5 stars The Children of Sacrifice
"Small Sacrifices" is another of Ann Rule's true-crime accounts, and this one delves into the darkest alley of the mind and brings to the light of day the danger some children face... Read more
Published on Nov. 27 2002 by Christopher M. MacNeil
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