Ann Rule's 11th volume in her Crime Files Series is No Regrets and Other True Cases. I picked it up over winter break and indulged in some murder and mayhem.
The main story is called “The Sea Captain,” and its about a man named Rolf Neslund, a brilliant ship captain and easily manipulated dupe. He was in love with one woman — he even had two sons with her — but then found himself forced to marry Ruth, a woman who was significantly less attractive and widely known to be unkind and cruel to everyone, specifically her husband. They grow old together — although not without their raging arguments known all over town — until one day Rolf disappears. To Norway, Ruth claims. But there is no evidence of that. Detectives search for Rolf, finding that the truth is far more disturbing than they can imagine.
I found this to be the most interesting story in the book, and not just because it was the longest. Rule pulled out her usual charms of describing her characters and made Ruth come alive on the page through the descriptions of friends and family. It was hard not to hurt for Rolf and his not-quite-bride, but my sympathies lies more with the woman than with Rolf. He came across as an idiot and quite a sucker. Why would you move another into your home when you have the love of your life and the mother of your children there? Do you think that’s going to go over well? Keep your tiny man in your pants and take care of your family. Otherwise, you will absolutely get conned into marrying someone like Ruth — ugly on both the outside and the inside.
Some of the smaller stories I found more disturbing than usual, and I can’t quite figure out if it’s me or if it’s the stories. One is about a woman abducted from her workplace and held hostage, another story is about a family that is murdered by their father right at Christmas. The story of the abduction and attempted murder by pimps was interesting, and not just because the story had merit. Rule made her disdain for pimps — and the Academy Award-winning song, “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp.” The song must have just been released when this book was being put together, as she spends a not-unreasonable portion of this story expressing her disgust for it.
The actual most interesting story of the smaller ones was the story of the bank robber, Sam Jesse. It had some twists and turns that were of interest to me as a reader, and not just because of the cold-hearted murder of a bank manager. The investigation was quite intriguing, and the story was laid out well. Otherwise, I think I could have skipped some of these shorter stories and just stuck with the main one.