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Thursday, September 8, 2016

Ann Rule's Dead by Sunset

Ann Rule, how I love thee. This is Dead by Sunset: The True-Crime Classic of Marriage, Murder, and the Man Who Got Anything--and Anyone--He Wanted... Oh Ann, writer of my beloved murder and mayhem real-life stories. How thankful I am for you, for providing me with superb vacation reads. This was another one of my Japan books, and I was in it to win it.

Brad was a handsome, caring, and loving man -- until you crossed him. Them he became ruthless, vindictive, and abusive. That is -- if anyone believes you. Just months into his third marriage, Brad convinces his pregnant wife's best friend, Cheryl, to run off with him and marry him. She does, and it becomes the mistake that ultimately takes her life. Just a short year into the marriage, Cheryl realizes that Brad can't hold a job, contribute to the family, or remain faithful. She tries to stick it out through the years, giving birth to three beautiful boys, but ultimately she can't make it work. Not long after their divorce, Cheryl's body is found destroyed in a horrible car wreck. Was this an accident, or something more sinister?

You know the drill.

To say that I was consumed by this book for days might be a slight understatement. I certainly didn't INTEND to get lost in the thirty year old world of Brad and Cheryl, but I also won't say that I didn't like it. (That was a purposeful use of double negatives, btw.) I am fascinated by psychopathy, because as often as we use the word in conversation, the reality is that psychopaths (used interchangeably with sociopaths, even though some might argue that they are different things) are fairly rare. Brad, however, would definitely be categorized as one. As I read the book, I found myself often wondering how woman after woman after woman could keep falling for this guy and AGREEING to marry him (!!!) been though they were his third, fourth, fifth wives. If a man has that many "psycho" exes who are "horrible people," how could you not see the neon red flag that says there is ONE common denominator in all of these cases -- and it's Brad.

Nonetheless, it happened and these women lived their nightmare and most barely got out alive. Cheryl didn't. My mind reeled with the lengths this man went to in order to harass, make fearful, and drive to paranoia the women who had the gall to leave him, even when he no longer wanted to be with them. It was the audacity they had to not allow him to be in control that almost cost them their lives, while costing them their savings and their piece of mind. Ultimately Brad was convicted of Cheryl's murder, which I don't consider much of a spoiler because if you have ever read an Ann Rule book then you know that she is a thorough, detailed writer that has the whole story before going to print. What I love about reading her books are the details and the 10,000-piece puzzle that you do slowly and methodically so that when you finish, and step back, there is an intricate and colorful picture that emerges, telling the whole story.

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