35 Ann Rule Books to Add to Your Reading List

Ann Rule is a famous true crime writer. Here you will find a summary of 35 of her nonfiction books.

You'll get the chance to read about her personal experience with Ted Bundy and his crimes. She also wrote about the Lust, Want-Ad, and I-5 killers.

She also wrote several books with a number of shorter crime stories that you will not want to miss! 

Books by Ann Rule

1. The Stranger Beside Me

The Stranger Beside Me

Published: 1980

Pages: 456

Murder is always a shocking crime, but it's especially heartbreaking when the victim is someone you know and love. In her book, The Stranger Beside Me, Ann Rule tells the story of her friendship with Ted Bundy, a man who would go on to become one of America's most notorious serial killers. Drawing on personal interviews and police reports, Rule provides a detailed account of Bundy's life and crimes, painting a picture of a man who was both charming and deadly.

Confessing to killing at least 36 women, Ted Bundy is a terrifying person, and this book is one you will never forget. If you're interested in true crime stories or just want to learn more about one of the most infamous killers in history, then this book is for you.


2. Lust Killer

Lust Killer

Published: 1983

Pages: 295

Jerry Brudos was born into a family that abused him from a young age and had strange fetishes from a very young age. With a history of severe mental health issues, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. At 22, he married a 17-year-old named Darcie, and they had two kids together.

However, this just seemed to ramp up his strange fetishes and activities. He was later found to horribly abuse four women in unimaginable ways, murder them, and often have sex with their bodies after they died. He also attacked two others, but they survived. Even though the story of Jerry Brudos is one of the lesser-known serial killer books, it is a must-read.


3. The Want-Ad Killer

The Want-Ad Killer

Published: 1983

Pages: 229

Harvey Carignan was initially convicted for murdering a woman in 1949 and supposedly spent life in prison. His conviction was overturned because of mitigating circumstances. After this, he had a few failed marriages and then resumed his life of abusing women and murdering them all across the country.

He was named "The Want Ad Killer" because he originally put-up advertisements for jobs that women would get, and then he'd kill them. After deciding that it wasn't enough, he started driving across the country, killing many young women. Because the deaths were often in different places, the police had difficulty tracking him down. It is a page-turner.


4. The I-5 Killer

The I-5 Killer

Published: 1984

Pages: 296

Randall Woodfield seemed like the "All-American boy" with his good looks, a star athlete drafted into the NFL and accepted as a Playgirl model. However, after being caught and sent to prison, this hid a history of abusing women with a knife to threaten them for oral sex. It was after his release that his murderous spree started.

He started with the murder of Cherie Ayers in 1980 in her apartment in Portland. After this, a long stream of murders occurred up and down the West Coast from California to Washington State. Because of this, he was nicknamed "The I-5 Killer" since he killed so many hitchhikers and prostitutes along the way.


5. Small Sacrifices

Small Sacrifices

Published: 1987

Pages: 487

Unlike most other serial killers or murderers, this book is about a woman. Diane Downs, a mother of three kids, shoot all of them. Her kids were all extremely young, at ages 8, 7, and 3. She had shot herself in the arm and made up a lie about a man who had done this, but it became apparent this was a lie. The youngest of the three died, and the hospital staff was surprised by her less-than-caring attitude. This led them to notify the police.

As with so many of these killers, she was abused sexually by a parent, her mother was afraid and didn't help her, then raped by her boss and numerous other horrible events.


6. If You Really Loved Me

If You Really Loved Me

Published: 1991

Pages: 604

This is one of the weirder books on the list, which is a statement about the others here. David Brown seemed to be the perfect person and husband. Incredibly intelligent, wealthy, and great-looking. However, this hid the true evil behind the face. When his wife was found shot dead, his 14-year-old daughter confessed to the murder and was sent to prison.

Instead of just a one-off, this is where the story truly gets scary: It seems that Brown was in love with his daughter, and there was a trail of destruction, including having personal slaves, marrying his dead wife's teenage sister, and much more.


7. Everything She Ever Wanted

Everything She Ever Wanted

Published: 1992

Pages: 560

Pat Taylor and Tom Allanson were the perfect couple and were part of the high society in Atlanta. They even dressed up as Rhett and Scarlett for their wedding to the delight of everyone they knew. However, this again hides a horrible story. Quickly after the marriage, their house burnt down, and Tom went to prison for murdering his parents.

However, since there were other deaths of family members, this only seemed to be the tip of the iceberg as the police investigated them. These include her brother committing suicide, his grandparents being poisoned with arsenic, and other strange incidents. Follow the story to learn more about this horrible couple and what happened to them both.


8. A Rose for Her Grave and Other True Cases: Crime Files Vol. 1

A Rose for Her Grave and Other True Cases

Published: 1993

Pages: 528

As mentioned in the title, this is more than just one criminal case. It includes six cases. The largest of them is about Randy Roth, who married four women and murdered two of them to collect the insurance payments. He would also use their children to try and get their benefits as no amount of money would satisfy his horrible actions.

The other stories are much shorter but just as interesting, such as the crimes committed against Ranae Wicklund. However, the man who raped her was released from prison and returned to rape and murder her and her daughter. People have stated that the information is so specific, in all the cases, that it is obvious how devoted Rule was to get everything perfect.


9. You Belong to Me and Other True Cases: Crime Files Vol. 2

You Belong to Me and Other True Cases

Published: 1994

Pages: 461

When we think of the police, we think of them as the people who solve the crimes, not those who commit them. However, the Florida State Trooper, Tim Harris, is one of the evil ones who used his position of power to do his evil deeds. Lorraine Hendricks had been murdered, and the police couldn't figure out what had happened, and the leads were going cold. However, some of the information didn't add up, so they started to suspect him. This is the main story of this anthology.

As with the others, there are also five other shorter cases that she writes about. An example of this is “Black Christmas," where a family is murdered during the holidays. “The Computer and the Killer," where a killer is released because of a computer mistake, and others.


10. Dead By Sunset: Perfect Husband, Perfect Killer?

Dead By Sunset

Published: 1995

Pages: 429

As you can guess by the title, Brad Cunningham was not a perfect husband but may have been a perfect killer. Incredibly cool and calm, he would trick women and then use them. He ended up marrying five wives and was abusive to all of them. At one point, he ended up killing his 4th wife, Cheryl. He then married again, and his next wife adopted his three sons since she had no idea of how evil he was at this point.

You will feel pain for every woman that he was involved with and especially his fifth wife, who adopted his three children and had to deal with finding out she married a murderer.


11. A Fever in the Heart and Other True Cases: Crime Files Vol. 3

A Fever in the Heart

Published: 1996

Pages: 424

All of the stories in this book are set in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S.A. The first describes a love triangle gone wrong. Morris Blankenbaker and his wife Jerrilee had a happy marriage. However, Morris decides to let his old football coach, Gabby Moore, move in to help him get back on his feet. Gabby then falls in love with Jerrillee, and they get married. However, she soon sees who he is, and the events that follow end up with two men dead.

Some of the other stories include “The Highway Accident," where a husband tries to make his wife’s death look like an accident to the police. Another is “Mirror Image," where two rapists meet in prison, become friends, and both use the name "Troy Asin," which confounded the police until they found out their real stories.


12. Bitter Harvest

Bitter Harvest

Published:  1997

Pages: 612  

Deborah Green seemed to have led the perfect life. She was married, had three children, and was a doctor in beautiful Prairie Village, Kansas. However, she was often cold, had little or no interest in sex, and didn't seem to care about much else, including her children and how they were doing each day. After realizing he no longer wanted to be with her, her husband leaves her.

Seemingly out of nowhere, their gorgeous house burnt to the ground, with two of the three children dying in it. One was able to escape by jumping off the roof. The police at first thought it was just a fire, but then they started to dig deeper into the case and found out much more than they expected here.


13. In the Name of Love and Other True Cases: Crime Files Vol. 4

In the Name of Love

Published: 1998

Pages: 414

Jerry Harris seemed to have it all: Wealthy, yachts, mansions, and everything a person could imagine having made it. However, there was a much shadier side to him also. One night he disappeared, and no one could understand why and where he went. His wife Susan quickly realized that something was wrong and started an eight-year search for him. Interestingly, Ann Rule was able to get information from an FBI informant about this story. What she finds out is dark and disturbing.

Some of the others include "The Most Dangerous Game," where a killer tries to become friends with two teenage girls and murder them, "How it Feels to Die," in which an ex-husband attempts to kill his ex-wife's three roommates and others.


14. The End of the Dream: The Golden Boy Who Never Grew Up: Crime Files Vol. 5

The End of the Dream

Published: 1998

Pages: 523

Four men, two of who were brothers, seemed to have it all: Money, fame, style, and respect from all. However, a much darker side was just under the skin. Scott, who decided to become the leader, talked the others into robbing at least 15 banks in the Seattle area over many years. Why did Scott start this? He was having money troubles and talked the others into getting rich. How did this all end up? You’ll want to read it to find out.

Some of the other stories include "The Girl Who Feel in Love with her Killer," where Barbie Lindley is raped, shot, and yet survived…and then married this monster before his trial. Another is "An Unlikely Suspect," where a stepson kills his step-mom, Vera English, and others.


15. A Rage to Kill and Other True Cases: Crime Files Vol. 6

A Rage to Kill and Other True Cases

Published: 1999

Pages: 382

This book has nine stories of horrors and murders, all in one edition. Some of these include A Bus to Nowhere, in which Silas Cool shoots a bus driver just as it is about to cross the Aurora Bridge in Seattle. "Born to Kill?" Michael Andrew Olds killed Blossom Braham, a grocery store clerk, and no one knows why. He then spends 13 years in prison, is released, kills a tax cab driver, and kidnaps older adults as he goes cross country on a killing spree.

One of the more intriguing ones is "The Lost Lady." It focuses on Marcia Moore, a wealthy woman who dabbles in psychic powers, astrology, and more. Married four times, it seems that her last husband killed her, but no one is sure since she was also addicted to a hallucinogen called Ketamine. You’ll have to decide for yourself.


16. And Never Let Her Go

And Never Let Her Go

Published: 1999

Pages: 480

Once again, another man with lots of power, good looks, and prestige isn't what he appears to be at all. Thomas Capano, otherwise known as "The Seducer," was one of the most powerful men in Wilmington. He was also having an affair with Anne Marie Fahey. After dinner one night, she disappeared.

After two days, her family realized that and started to push for an investigation. As the police began digging deeper, they found that Capano was a duplicitous and untrustworthy man, willing to do anything he felt to gain whatever he wanted at any time. By the time you finish this book, you'll have found three families destroyed and all because of one man's desires and inability to love or care for others honestly.


17. Empty Promises: Crime Files Vol. 7

Empty Promises

Published: 2001

Pages: 524

The main story in this collection of nine is Empty Promises. This story delves into the life of Jami Hagel Sherer, who disappeared one night. It goes into how she was abused, her husband’s treatment of other women, and what eventually ended up between there. There is also a possibility that Steve may have killed his father also.

Other stories include "The Gentler Sex," where two women plan to kill one of the women's husbands to get his life insurance. Another is "Young Love," where a high schooler wants to go to college. Still, her obsessive boyfriend refuses, although this one does seem to offer at least a cheerful ending compared to the others.


18. Every Breath You Take

Every Breath You Take

Published: 2001

Pages: 464

Have you ever heard of a person asking a writer to investigate her death before it happens? That is precisely what Sheila Blackthorne Bellush asked for…and unfortunately received. Sheila was previously married to the elegant millionaire Allen Blackthorne. But like so many of these people, underneath his exterior, he was hateful, violent, and would never let anyone have any control of their lives.

So, Sheila had left him, remarried, and had children with her new family. But Allen couldn’t accept that and continued to terrorize her. She was eventually killed at home, in front of her four children, and that is where the story of how his arrogance finally leads to his downfall.


19. Heart Full of Lies

Heart Full of Lies

Published: 2001

Pages: 379

As we've seen, most murderers and serial killers seem to be male. So when it is a female, it becomes even more intriguing to see what went wrong and why they kill others. Liysa Northon seemed kind, caring, and wonderful mother and everything a person could want in a mate. However, while divorced three times, being that perfect should have raised some red flags.

She and her husband went camping one day, and she ended up shooting him, according to herself, in self-defense. She drove to a friend's house and had bruises and injuries, so it seemed as if it was justified. However, as the police started digging into Liysa's past, a whole different side of her came out that was narcissist and sociopathic.


20. Last Dance, Last Chance, and Other True Cases: Crime Files Vol. 8

Last Dance, Last Chance, and Other True Cases

Published: 2003

Pages: 463

With his incredibly successful cosmetic surgery business, a famed researcher, and a gorgeous Lamborghini, wouldn’t want to be with Dr. Anthony Pignataro? But, as we know from so many of Ann Rule’s books, looks are almost always deceiving. Strangely enough, this one starts with Dr. Pignataro being sued by one of his clients and then deciding that poisoning his wife would allow him to be found not guilty.

There are numerous other stories, including "The Accountant," a cold case from 1948 in Seattle. This focuses on Jack Gasser, who brutally raped, tortured, and murdered Donna Woodcock. He was sentenced to prison but was later paroled. If the first murder wasn't horrible enough, what happens afterward is horrifying. Another is "The Beach," where William Batten killed two women as they slept on the beach. One of the fascinating parts of this story includes how he was caught and what happened to him afterward.


21. Without Pity: Ann Rule's Most Dangerous Killers: Crime Files Updates

Without Pity

Published: 2003

Pages: 664

This book includes eight stories from the other volumes written above up until this time. Rule also adds four more stories into this compendium. She delves into why the killers kill, how they became so evil, how and why they pick their victims, and more.


22. Green River, Running Red

Green River, Running Red

Published: 2004

Pages: 448

This is probably one of Rule's most well-known books from her career. The Green River Killer killed at least 49 women during the 1980s and 1990s. Their ages ranged from teens to full-grown adults. Almost all of them were sex workers, which is one reason he was able to get away with it for so long: People didn’t seem to mind since they weren’t important people.

Along with the case, Rule also talks to many family members of the slain women and how horrible it was waiting to see if their daughter or sister ever came home. And, then when the trial occurred, how they had been murdered. You genuinely get a feeling for the devastation caused by the Green River Killer and how it went on for so long.


23. Kiss Me, Kill Me, and Other True Cases: Crime Files Vol. 9

Kiss Me, Kill Me, and Other True Cases

Published: 2004

Pages: 314

Another book with numerous stories, but this one is slightly different in that it shows how some murders, decades ago, can be solved and the criminals get the prison time they deserved. Some of these include the case of Sandra Bowman, who was murdered in 1968, and yet the murderer wasn't known until 2004. There are also other specific crime stories like her different Crime Files set.


24. Worth More Dead and Other True Cases: Crime Files Vol. 10

Worth More Dead and Other True Cases

Published: 2005

Pages: 418

The main story is "Worth More Dead," about Roland Pitre, who killed his lover's husband and then his wife. More than that, he had the plot to hold his stepson in a dungeon and then collect ransom money for his release.

Other stories include "Old Man's Darling," where 40-year old Teresa Perez, upset that her lover, Justyn Rosen, wouldn't leave his wife. The exciting part of this story is that Justyn was 80 years old, so there were exactly 40 years between them. Why did she do it? Because he wouldn't leave his wife.

Others include "All for Nothing," about a man who kills his lover and her supposed lover. This story became famous because the man murdered was Larry Sturholm, a prominent Seattle newscaster. There are a few others in this book.


25. No Regrets and Other True Cases: Crime Files Vol. 11

No Regrets and Other True Cases

Published: 2006

Pages: 305

"A Very Bad Christmas" is a perfect example of when money trumps someone's humanity. Richard Hamilton wanted a divorce but didn't want to pay child support for his two children. So, instead of dealing with the consequences of his divorce, he decided to kill his wife, seven-year-old daughter, and three-year-old son.

 "Or We'll Kill You" is about a woman who does crisis intervention in the city of Fairfield in California. She was kidnapped, tortured, raped while in their control. Thankfully she used her training and escaped—one of the few "good outcomes" of Rule's books. There are numerous other stories as well.


26. Smoke, Mirrors, and Murder and Other True Cases: Crime Files Vol. 12

Smoke, Mirrors, and Murder and Other True Cases

Published: 2007

Pages: 464

We found "The Deputy's Wife" to be one of the most intriguing cases in this book. Former King County deputy, Bill Jensen, was in prison for domestic violence against his wife. He was caught, so he decided to make his ex-wife pay for her actions against him. So, he attempted to have not only his wife murdered but also her sister and his two children. This would allow him to inherit the insurance money and not go through a divorce trial.

"The Truck Driver's Wife" is a strange one since hard to know if this was murder or a case of spontaneous human combustion. We aren't sure that is even possible, so…there are about five other stories in this book.


27. Too Late to Say Goodbye

Too Late to Say Goodbye

Published: 2007

Pages: 456

There is always something interesting when a cold case, in this case, one in 1990, is opened back up and the killer punished. Barton Corbin was a dentist, a rather dull person, and didn't have any friends. He was married and seemed abusive to his wife and six kids, who were terrified of him. In 1990, he murdered Dolly Hearn, and then in 2004, he murdered Jennifer Barber Corbin. This man honestly cared for no one but himself and made some of the other murders on this list. That means something.


28. Mortal Danger and Other True Cases: Crime Files Vol. 13

Mortal Danger and Other True Cases

Published: 2008

Pages: 465

"Mortal Danger" is a terrifying story of a relationship gone very wrong. John Braden was a horrid man who beat, harassed, abused and raped his girlfriend throughout their long relationship. He then tried to kill her, but she survived. After he changed his name and found another lover, after she started seeing things wrong with him, he shot her, her friend who was trying to help, and himself.

"If I can't Have You…" is a story about Amelia Jager and her trying to escape her abuser when she was living in Switzerland. However, he tracks her down and tries to control her. As he is finally being forced back on a plane, he pulls a knife, kills her, and injures her sister. There are about four other stories in this book.


29. But I Trusted You and Other True Cases: Crime Files Vol. 14

But I Trusted You and Other True Cases

Published: 2009

Pages: 428

One of the more interesting stories in this book is "Monohan's Last Date." This is when a man decides to try something new in his life. That being a threesome. However, as does happen in Rule's books, he chooses the wrong couple, and his life ends horribly.

Others include "The Deadly Voyeur," in which a man searched out a young couple and kidnapped them. He wanted them to make love while watching, but they refused to do it. After that, he killed the young man and almost killed the young woman as she escaped and was able to help the police capture him. There are about five other stories here.


30. In the Still of the Night

Still Night 2

Published: 2010

Pages: 432

This book will keep readers on their toes and guessing until the end. It follows David Carpenter, a man who has been in prison for over 20 years. He was convicted of murdering his wife and two children with an ax while sleeping. Like other cases in recent years, he was sentenced without any physical evidence linking him to the crime scene.

In this novel, Rule takes us through Carpenter's life from early childhood to the present day as she tries to paint a picture for us of who he could be - killer or not? With interviews from family members and law enforcement officials, we get inside information about what may have led up to that fateful night in 1983.


31. Don't Look Behind You and Other True Cases: Crime Files Vol. 15

Don't Look Behind You and Other True Cases

Published: 2011

Pages:465

There are about four stories in this one, but our favorite was "The Most Frightening Crime of All" because it is about how people can educate themselves to stay safe. It is not about blaming the victim but just giving information from her many years on the force. It is empowering and incredibly useful since it involves two serial rapists and how the women survived the attacks.


32. Fatal Friends, Deadly Neighbors, and Other True Cases: Crime Files Vol. 16

Fatal Friends, Deadly Neighbors, and Other True Cases

Published: 2012

Pages: 544

Another too good to be a true story, Jonah Shacknai was a billionaire and had everything he could ever want, including a girlfriend and a son. Strangely, his son supposedly committed suicide, and then his girlfriend seemed to have hanged herself just a few days later. However, the police could not figure out if there was foul play or not? Find out more as you read it.

One of the other cases is about the now well-known murder of Susan Powell by her husband, Josh Powell. If you haven't heard of it, you'll find out a lot in this book.


33. Danger in the Dorm

Danger in the Dorm

Published: 2013

Pages: 53

Dormitories are often thought of as safe places for students to live, but that is not always the case. In this book, Ann Rule tells the story of one such tragedy. In 1990, a student at Oregon State University was raped and murdered in her dorm room by another student. Through interviews with witnesses and police officials and the victim's family, Rule pieces together the events leading to this heinous crime. This book provides a glimpse into the dangers that can lurk in seemingly safe places.

We also felt this is an essential book since it will help people stay safe in college and live in the dorms.


34. Practice to Deceive

Practice to Deceive

Published: 2013

Pages: 339

Located off the coast of Seattle, Whidbey Island is a beautiful, quiet, and relaxing place to spend time. However, when Russel Douglas was found dead in his car on Christmas day in 2003, most people thought it was a suicide. However, since the police didn't find any weapon, they were mystified. The police later find out about a love triangle and that there is so much more to the story. There is so much more to the story that it is almost impossible to explain how insane this is with the whole backstory.


35. Lying in Wait and Other True Cases: Ann Rule's Crime Files: Vol. 17

Lying in Wait and Other True Cases

Published: 2014

Pages: 453

Rule's final book is an excellent way for her to have gone out and left us with a great group of true crimes to think about and remind us of her forever. One of the strangest is "The Baby Seller." Unlike most of her novels and stories, this is based in Athens, Alabama, in 1980. Jackie Sue Schut killed a young mother and stole her child.

When she discovered the child was disabled, she left him in the field. She then did the same to another mother but got scared and sent the baby back, trying to have people believe it was all an accident. There were probably more murders, but no one is sure. There are about 4 or 5 other stories in this volume.