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Small Sacrifices: A True Story of Passion and Murder Mass Market Paperback – Nov 18 1999

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Small Sacrifices: A True Story of Passion and Murder + The Stranger Beside Me + Lust Killer: Updated Edition
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Signet; Reissue edition (Nov. 18 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451166604
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451166609
  • Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 2.8 x 17.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #113,459 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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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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4.8 out of 5 stars
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Karoline on 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Becky on Oct. 26 2007
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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By TawnTawn on 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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Format: Mass Market Paperback
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 light on the story. It does. It is a horribly sad, disgusting story of a woman who brutally killed one of her children while trying to kill them all. It is also a stunning story of the lengths people acheived in bringing her to justice. A story of bravery of an 8-year-old survivor who faced more horror than most adults could stand and overcame it. I don't read mysteries or horror novels - I read this because the truth is scarier than anything anyone could make up and I needed to understand how this could happen. Of course, it is incomprehensible.
Rule, now one of my favorite authors, writes this like all her books in a style that allows the action to unfold naturally as you read. I do get a little weary of complete histories of all invovled, police, DAs, etc, but appreciate some detail when it adds to the story.
I also identify with the oldest child, who is the same age that I am. When I read it, I remember myself at that age at that time, and it makes the story that much more real. God bless you, Christie, wherever you are today.
I have read this book probably 4 or 5 times, bringing it out every couple of years, to reread it and look for answers that no one but Diane Downs has. I recommend it to anyone interested in true crime not as voyeuristic entertainment, but as proof that sometimes justice wins.
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