Rule, Ann

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Born 22 October 1935, Lowell, Michigan

Also writes under: Andy Stack

Daughter of Chester R. and Sophie Hansen Stackhouse; married Bill Rule (divorced); children: Leslie, Laura, Andy, Mike, Bruce

During her childhood, Ann Rule's family moved around frequently as her father's coaching career dictated. Her mother, a schoolteacher, taught the developmentally disabled. From the age of ten, Rule spent summers visiting her grandparents in Stanton, Michigan. Whiling away the hours at the Montcalm County Jail, where her grandfather was sheriff, she got to know the inmates at the same time as she watched her grandfather solve crimes based on what seemed the slightest of physical evidence. She wondered why Viola, the nice woman who taught her to crochet, was about to go on trial for murder, and was fascinated at what an investigator could glean from bits of clothing and blood.

At the University of Washington, Rule majored in creative writing and minored in psychology, criminology, and penology. With her grandfather and an uncle both sheriffs, another uncle a medical examiner, and a district attorney cousin, it's not surprising that after college she went on to get a job as an officer with the Seattle Police Department. She was let go from the force due to severe nearsightedness, after which she became a caseworker for the Washington State Department of Public Assistance for a time. When her husband decided to put his career on hold to return to school, she began to write stories about actual crimes. She wrote freelance for the Seattle Times, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Cosmopolitan, True Confessions, and others, eventually becoming a stringer for True Detective, writing under the name Andy Stack. She became a full-time writer in 1969. In the early 1980s she published a series as Andy Stack that included three books. She has written some fiction, including the novel Possession (1983), as well as book reviews and over 1,400 articles.

Rule's first true crime book, The Stranger Beside Me (1980) was her first bestseller. When she sold the proposal, Rule had no idea the book she would end up writing would be about a man she considered a friend, her work partner at a crisis hotline, Ted Bundy. Considered the definitive work on the elusive serial killer who murdered over 35 young women, The Stranger Beside Me is a meticulously researched, gripping account that benefits not just from Rule's unique vantage on Bundy but from a clear and rational, very human voice.

Her next true crime work, Small Sacrifices: A True Story of Passion and Murder (1987), recounts the story of a woman who shot her three children and then wounded herself, claiming to police that a "bushy-haired stranger" was responsible. As with most of Rule's work, the book is part psychological profile, looking deeply into the woman's past and present, part police procedural, and part real-life tragedy. If You Really Loved Me: A True Story of Desire and Murder (1991) followed, detailing the case of a wealthy computer expert who convinced his 14-year-old daughter by an earlier marriage to shoot and kill his present wife and take the fall for it alone. In Everything She Ever Wanted: A True Story of Obsessive Love, Murder, and Betrayal (1992), Rule profiles a beautiful woman who framed her third husband for the murder of his parents, tried to poison his grandparents, kept an elderly woman in her care drugged after killing her husband, and had a hand in the alleged suicide of her brother. Under Rule's treatment, the over-the-top material becomes an absorbing character study.

Dead by Sunset: Perfect Husband, Perfect Killer? (1995) was next, followed by Bitter Harvest: A Woman's Fury, a Mother's Sacrifice (1997). With both, she achieved perceptive, chilling portraits of brilliant, successful individuals who became murderers, and tense, often riveting narratives of the investigations into their crimes. In The End of the Dream: The Golden Boy Who Never Grew Up and Other True Cases (1998), number five in her Ann Rule's Crime Files series, she chronicles the story of a handsome, gifted preacher's son who acted the part of the gentleman robber in the Northwest for years, netting over $300,000 dollars with no casualties at the scene of his crimes, but tragically fracturing a number of lives along the way.

While the cases Rule writes about are of many different types, the two things she always looks for are an anti-hero or -heroine who is intelligent and talented, a person who seems to have it all but is incapable of being satisfied, coupled with an engaging set of surrounding elements: victims, families of victims, and the law enforcement team that works to bring them to justice. Rule continued her education in criminology, taking courses in crime scene investigation, police administration, arrest, search and seizure, and more. She attends seminars on organized crime, arson, bomb search, DNA, and forensic science. She is certified in many states to teach seminars on subjects from high-profile offenders to serial killers. The U.S. Justice Department Task Force that set up the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (VICAP) used by the FBI included Rule. Active in support groups for victims of violent crimes, she has also been tapped by police as a consultant on serial killers. She has been a plenary speaker at the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference and a pro in their "Ask a Pro" workshops.

Two of Rule's books have been made into television miniseries. One of them, Small Sacrifices, won the Peabody award. She received an Achievement Award from the Pacific Northwest Writer's Conference, two Anthony awards from Bouchercon, the mystery fans' organization, and was nominated twice for Edgar awards by the Mystery Writers of America, as well as receiving the Washington State Governor's Award. She is considered by many to be the founder of the true crime genre as it exists today.

Other Works:

Beautiful Seattle (1979). Lust Killer (1983). The Want-Ad Killer (1983). The I-5 Killer (1984). Beautiful America's Seattle (1989). Beauty of Seattle (1991). A Rose for Her Grave And Other True Cases (1993). You Belong to Me And Other True Cases (1994). A Fever in the Heart and Other True Cases (1996). Three Classic Volumes from the Crime Files of Ann Rule: A Rose for her Grave, You Belong to Me, A Fever in the Heart, and Other True Cases (1997). In the Name of Love and Other True Cases (1998).


"Are Serial Killers on the Rise?" in U.S. News & World Report (9 Sept. 1985). "Bitter Harvest: Arson and Murder in the Heartland" in PW (22 Dec. 1997). Brower, M., "Unmasking a Murderous Mother, Crime Writer Ann Rule Closes the Book on Another Psychopath," in People (14 Sept. 1987). Johnson, A., and Ian Katz, "The Murderous Compulsion That Leads to Self-Destruction," in Guardian (3 Jan. 1995). Katz, I., "A High Life of Crime," in Guardian (19 Dec. 1994). Kelly, T., "Ann Rule Reigns as Queen of the True-Crime Stories," in Washington Times (29 May 1991). Lindsey, R., "How a Writer Became a Murder Expert," in New York Times Biographical Service (Feb. 1984). Price, D., "Crime Pays," in Detroit News (6 May 1996). Reynolds, B., "They Feel No Remorse, Have No Conscience," in USA Today (16 Feb. 1989). Reynolds, B., "This Is the Beginning of the End for Murderer," in USA Today (30 Aug. 1990). Ryan, V., "PW interviews Ann Rule," in PW (3 May 1991). Theiss, E., "Heroes Buoy Ann Rule in Grisly Crime Writing" in Plain Dealer (22 Feb. 1998).

Reference works:

CA, New Revision 65. CA 145.