Remembering Ann Rule, the first lady of true crime books
Sad news: Ann Rule, the best-selling author of true-crime novels, passed away last Sunday.
Rule first came to fame with her 1980 profile of serial killer Ted Bundy, aptly titled The Stranger Beside Me: Rule had worked with Bundy at Seattle’s Crisis Hotline in the early 1970s. In a twist of fate, Rule had already been working on the book about Seattle’s mystery murderer before Bundy was identified.
At first she was unwilling to believe the worst about her old friend, but after his escape from jail and successive Florida killing spree, she changed her mind and wrote one of the most insightful books on criminal psychology ever released.
Beyond Bundy, if you have an interest in what caused any criminal to act the way they do, it wouldn’t be surprising if one of Rule’s pieces has the answer. Over her lifetime, she wrote 30 New York Times bestselling books and more than 1,400 articles exploring what makes people engage in criminal behavior. Several of her other books have become movies as well, most recently The Hunt for the I-5 Killer in 2011.
Rule had first-hand experience in the world of crime, but not as a criminal. Her family included many relatives in law enforcement: sheriffs, a prosecuting attorney, and a medical examiner. According to the New York Times, she spent summer vacations with her grandparents living in the same building as the county jail, and even helping prepare meals for prisoners.
“They were so nice, so I would always ask my grandpa, ‘How come they’re locked up?'” Rule told The Seattle Times in 2004. “I wanted to know why some kids grew up to be criminals and why other people didn’t. That is still the main thrust behind my books: I want to know why these things happen, and so do my readers.”
As an adult, she briefly joined the Seattle Police Department, and was a lifelong advocate for victims of violent crimes. Her death came at the age of 83, caused by congestive heart and respiratory failure. She’s survived by her family (including her daughter, a fellow writer of paranormal crime nonfiction), and she’ll be missed by the world.
(Image via Ann Rule’s website)