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.