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Small Sacrifices: A True Story of Passion and Murder Mass Market Paperback – Jul 5 1988

4.8 out of 5 stars 74 customer reviews

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  • Small Sacrifices: A True Story of Passion and Murder
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Signet; Reissue edition (July 5 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451166604
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451166609
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 2.7 x 17.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 74 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #86,785 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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