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Practice to Deceive

Practice to Deceive

Titel: Practice to Deceive
Autoren: Ann Rule
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F OREWORD
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    T HIS STORY OF MURDER has as many facets as an intricately cut diamond, far too many to seem believable as either fiction or nonfiction. Either way, as the bizarre scenarios blaze a path through encounters between people who would not be expected to know one another, this saga might well seem contrived. As nonfiction—which it is—it is a murky sea of reality with myriad characters who seem larger than life. They are infinitely different from one another in personalities, lifestyles, and possible motivations.
    I have wondered if their machinations can be reconstructed here in any orderly fashion. Where do I jump in and build a foundation of sentences and paragraphs strong enough to bear the weight of everything that must be told? There are no locks that my author’s keys will open easily, just as there are few threads that might be woven into a pattern that makes sense.
    The denouement of this baffling case took a decade. The entire story traverses fifty years. Even now, there are shadowy corners where secrets still hide.
    Many innocents have died violent deaths in unlikely places. Over time, the motives behind why these particular human beings were singled out for death are more obscure.
    * * *
    I N THE SIXTIES, A group of authors decided to write a rather silly book where each writer penned a chapter. New additions didn’t necessarily have to have anything to do with the story line that came before. The provocative title and book jacket drew potential buyers, and Naked Came the Stranger became a bizarre bestseller.
    Some years later, I belonged to a similar social organization of a dozen or so Seattle best-selling authors. We called it the Bitch and Moan Society. It was a venue to air our disappointments, complaints, and anxieties about our profession. Eventually, we decided to write a book similar to Naked Came the Stranger, where we, too, took turns writing disconnected chapters.
    Our manuscript, Deadly Obsession, Possession, and Depression Revisited, was packed with implausible plots and wacky characters. A reader could start at the beginning, the end, or the middle and none of it fit together, which isn’t surprising, because each of us wrote in a different genre: romance, horror, military espionage, true crime, psychological suspense, teenage love stories, humor, and historical sagas. We never intended to publish it, which was just as well, but we all laughed hysterically when each segment was read aloud.
    One of our rules demanded that we always had to “put the action on an island!”
    In many ways Practice to Deceive has challenged me to cover murderous plots with players as diverse as our mythical Deadly Obsession. And, ironically, many of the nefarious plots in this book did take place on an island.

C AST OF C HARACTERS
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    JAMES STACKHOUSE
First wife: Mary Ellen
Children:
Thomas Stackhouse
Michael Stackhouse
Lana Stackhouse Galbraith
Brenda Stackhouse Gard
Rhonda Stackhouse Vogl
Robby Stackhouse
Second wife: Doris
Children:
Peggy Sue Stackhouse
Amy (stepdaughter)
Sue “Sweet Sue” Mahoney (stepdaughter)
Third wife: Terry
(three stepchildren)
    GAIL DOUGLAS O’NEAL
First husband: Jim Douglas
Children:
Matthew Douglas
Russel Douglas
Holly Douglas Hunsicker
Second husband: Bob O’Neal
    RUSSEL DOUGLAS
First and only wife: Brenna
Mistress: Fran Lester*
Children:
Jack Douglas
Hannah Douglas
    PEGGY SUE STACKHOUSE
First husband: Reverend Tony Harris
Second husband: Kelvin Thomas
Children:
Mariah Thomas
Taylor Thomas
Third husband: Mark Allen
    JIM HUDEN
First wife: Patti Lewandowski
Second wife: Jean Huden
Mistress: Peggy Sue Stackhouse Harris Thomas Allen
Vickie Boyer, best friend of Peggy Sue Thomas for seven years
Cindy Francisco, good friend of Peggy Sue Thomas
Bill Hill, Buck Naked and the X-hibitionists band member and close friend of Jim Huden in Florida
Dick Deposit, Lloyd Jackson, Bill Marlow, Ken Kramer, Ron Young, all longtime friends of Jim Huden on Whidbey Island
    INVESTIGATORS, ISLAND COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE
Detective Mike Birchfield
Detective Sergeant Mike Beech
Sergeant Mark Plumberg
Detective Shawn Warwick
Detective Sue Quandt
Detective Ed Wallace
Island County Coroner Robert Bishop
Mine That Bird, Kentucky Derby winner, 2009

PART ONE
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The Body in the Woods

C HAPTER O NE
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    W HIDBEY ISLAND, WASHINGTON, IS one of the largest islands in the continental United States, a vacation spot for some, home to sixty thousand residents, and a massive duty station for

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