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: A True Story of Desire and Murder

by Ann Rule

Pub Date: May 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-671-68835-9
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

 Child abuse, adultery, and murder permeate this potentially gripping but overwritten southern California crime story from the best-selling author of Small Sacrifices, The Stranger Beside Me, etc. David Brown was the consummate Eighties entrepreneur: a computer wizard with his own business, plenty of cash, and a home in Orange County's conservative enclave. He was also an oversexed hypochondriac and periodically suicidal Svengali who emotionally blackmailed his daughter into killing her stepmother so that he could marry his teen-age sister-in-law and then bask in the deceased's million-dollar insurance policy. And Brown also emerges as a pedophile puppeteer who got the sister-in-law to perform oral sex on him when she was 11 years old and who talked his daughter into overdosing on pills so that her subsequent murder conviction could be diluted with an insanity plea. The sordid yarn has two parts: the trial that sentenced Brown's daughter, and a zealous detective's follow-up investigation that finally brought the crime's true mastermind to justice. While covering this ``utterly fascinating study of psychopathy,'' Rule litters her paper trail with dozens of interviews with the killer, his accomplices, the victims, and the authorities. She provides a thoroughly researched and well-rounded picture of each character, with several narrative blind alleys and surprises that get even more demented when Brown schemes to murder his prosecution team and everyone else he thinks plotted against him. But Rule's talent as a documentarian ironically works against her. Instead of giving her shotgun story a shotgun style, she drags on with redundancies and semi-readable interview transcripts that could make readers yawn over otherwise stirring events. Second-drawer Rule, but shocking and juicy nonetheless.