Book Notes: Ann Rule’s In the Still of the Night

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.

12 thoughts on “Book Notes: Ann Rule’s In the Still of the Night”

  1. Not that I would ever wish to read a crime story or novel, but this was definitely one of the most memorable and enjoyable reviews I have read in a very long time. It tells you exactly why you should read such a book and what happens in it down to a t. I might even give it a try…

    Liked by 2 people

  2. // The book never explains why these people are this way. It would be a subject for an entirely different book in another genre.

    May you say it, please, in one sentence at least? Were they abused by their parents? Did they see their parents behave thus?

    Also, the disappearance of that specific mask post is weird. May be I am paranoid, but I am not 100% sure it was a coincidence if this has never happened before.

    I watched a few Peterson’s videos and he said something very interesting (Sept. 28, 2019):

    “We know that as the rate of contagious pathogen in the environment increases, the degree to which a society becomes authoritarian increases. And very rapidly.” (Syphilis in the Victorian era)

    “In fact, there is … a paper published just a few months ago showing that the correlation between infectious disease prevalence in a given geographical locale and authoritarian political views held by the individuals in that locale approaches 0.7 which is absolutely phenomenal.

    It’s such a high correlation that it almost eats up all of the relationship. As the risk of infectious disease rises, people become less and less tolerant in their views on interpersonal behavior, and a lot of that is going to be associated with sexual behavior because that’s a very good vector for the transmission of disease.”

    Does it remind us of anything? 🙂

    He said this in the video (linked below) discussing the Victorian era and giving several good reasons for sexual repression in Freud’s time.

    You know, today’s popular form of feminism may present to young people the past as being populated by (almost?) cartoonish villainous sexists (and racists?). Yet, the moment one looks even a bit deeper, a complex picture emerges, enabling one to understand the past better, even if one still disagrees with their way of dealing with life’s dilemmas.

    Wish it was studied at schools and universities at lessons / lectures dedicated to feminist movement.

    Jordan Peterson ~ Why Are Women More Promiscuous In Today’s Age?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are asking me why they are like that?? I have no idea. I’m stunned by these stories. These people have everything to be happy. They are among the most privileged in human history. And their lives are crap because they just can’t get over themselves and think for two seconds before they act. I know I said I’m impulsive but compared to these people, I have an iron will.

      They are also extremely consumerist, even in what concerns religion. They pick up and abandon religions like a 3-year-old chooses toys. There’s a need for something new every 10 minutes because the young brain can’t concentrate for long.

      It’s like these people were hit over their heads in childhood and their brains never developed. And yes, it’s multigenerational.

      My mother grew up in a very poor rural family. Her father drank. But neither they nor anybody around them led this kind of a bizarre lifestyle.

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      1. “why they are like that?? I have no idea. I’m stunned by these stories”

        Isn’t it basically just old-fashioned consumerism? If your toaster stops pleasing you you throw it out and buy another. In the US than can easily expand to “If your spouse displeases you then discard them and fine another” and eventually to “if your god displeases you then discard it and find another”
        The idea of throwing away the old in favor of a newer model stops being about things and turns into everything. The tragedy is that no one anticipates being on the other side – being disposed of and occasionally (too often) you get horrific dysfunction and violence but it comes from the return desk at Wal-Mart.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I attended a Christian fiction writing contest a decade ago with the intent of trying to get a dystopian novel published. It centered around a future US government that had implemented a euthanasia law to solve the “health care crisis”. (this was before Obama was elected the first time). I was told it was too long and too edgy. It focused on the resistance to the movement and the corrupt politicians who implemented it.

    The popular novels of the time were Amish stories. I remember feeling incensed that people would want to read about the boring lives of the Amish. There were a bunch of Amish writers there walking around with their Amish attire and making out like celebrities. I went home without a contract and a lot of recommendations for improvement. Lately, I feel like I’m living in my novel.

    Meanwhile, the Hallmark Channel is making a killing producing putrid sap for the characters in your crime novel because they long for stability and normalcy even though they find it impossible to control their hormonal urges.

    Worse, I know many real life children of people like the characters in your crime novel who have turned to religion and therapists to help them sort out the mess their parents made of their lives.

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    1. “I remember feeling incensed that people would want to read about the boring lives of the Amish”

      Oooh I bet that everyday Amish life is a wasp’s nest of intrigue…. a closed community always has far more intense personal drama than an open one.
      I doubt it that’s what the novels are about but….

      Liked by 1 person

      1. In Ronda’s case, the book says her father left her mother while she was pregnant with her. It seemed to me like she had daddy issues? That doesn’t explain the impulsivity of all the people in her circle, but I wonder if that’s part of it..

        Liked by 1 person

        1. There’s definitely a massive repetition of mother’s weird personal life to the daughter’s. The father left the mother but there are hints that he wasn’t even the actual Dad. That the lifelong boyfriend was the Dad. Both mother and daughter spent their lives in love with some guy but constantly marrying other men. So yes, it’s what psychologists call “the family scenario.”

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