This is a true crime novel based on the apparent suicide (or possibly murder?) of a woman called Ronda Reynolds. Ann Rule is the best in this genre, and the book is fascinating.
What interests me the most about the book is the kind of people it describes. They are not in the least lumpen or declassé in economic terms yet their private lives are of the Jerry Springer variety. This contrast is what held my attention throughout the book.
Ronda Reynolds, her husbands, boyfriends, the wives of the boyfriends, the boyfriends of the wives of the boyfriends, and so on are not living in poverty or suffering from marginalization. These are educated, solidly middle-class people. They aren’t rich, by any means, but they aren’t poor either. A school principal, a state trooper, a security guard, a horse breeder – not only do they have nice salaries, most have some property, too.
Yet the economic stability doesn’t bring a stable lifestyle. The people in Ronda’s world constantly get married, divorced, then married again, then divorced, then back to their former spouses, then marry a best friend’s husband, get divorced in a few months, and so on. I wash my car less frequently than these people marry.
In the meanwhile, large numbers of children get born who are constantly shoved from one abode to another, from one stepparent to another. There’s an endless procession of stepmoms and stepdads in these kids’ lives. Their parents barely remember how many spouses they have had so far.
The endless divorces bring endless squabbles about property and who owes what to which spouse of 3 minutes ago. It’s an endless chaos of things, kids, sex partners, houses, suitcases, etc. I’d die of anxiety if I had to integrate all that complexity into my life. And these people crack, too, obviously. They crack so bad that some end up killed.
The book never explains why these people are this way. It would be a subject for an entirely different book in another genre. But it’s a scary sight to behold precisely because there seems no particular reason for these folks to be so shiftless, miserable, and stupid.