Small Sacrifices

Small Sacrifices

A True Story of Passion and Murder

Book - 1988
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In the bestselling tradition of In Cold Blood, The Stranger Beside Me, and Fatal Vision, comes Small Sacrifices, the harrowing, headline-breaking story of Diane Downs, a woman so desperate for love and attention that she would attempt to murder her three children to please a man who wanted none. "A work of resonance and revelation with breath-stopping tension to the end".--Kirkus Reviews. Copyright © Libri GmbH. All rights reserved.
Publisher: New York : New American Library, c1988.
ISBN: 9780451153937
Branch Call Number: 364.1523 RUL
Characteristics: 494 pages, [8] pages of plates. :,illustrations ;,18 cm.


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Aug 05, 2020

So glad that the library accepted my book request! Can’t wait to read this!

May 06, 2016


A true crime story of a mother who attempted to get rid of her kids because she believed that the man she was obsessed with would want her more if the kids were gone. I think this story would’ve been more horrific, would’ve had more of an impact on a reader when this was first published. Readers really would have been thinking "How could a mother do that to her own children?!" Today it's not that uncommon of a story, tv dramas have covered it many times. I'm not sure whether readers in the 80s would’ve been fooled, but without reading the back cover description and never having heard of the case I was immediately suspicious of Diane. Her affect at the hospital when she first brought her children in immediately said to me "All is not as it seems with this woman.".

The thing that most shocks me actually is the willingness with which the men at the Chandler post office are ready to put their marriages on the line just for a quick fling with Diane. At one point Rule says that Diane's plan was to sleep her way through all the married men at the Chandler post office branch. The way Diane said it made it seem as if the men had no say in the matter, as if as soon as they saw her and she made her invitation it was a foregone conclusion. What's wrong with these men?! The whole situation brings to mind Jedi mind control and the idea that Jedi mind control only works on the weak-minded.

For a moment there I started to think that maybe Diane didn't personally shoot her kids, that maybe she had a 'bushy-haired' accomplice. The fact that Christie remembered the 'man' coming around from the boot of the car, where Lew last saw Diane's guns. The fact that the gun has gone so completely missing. The fact that Diane's car was seen driving at a snail's pace along the road where she said the shooting happened, an action which I think means that she was driving slowly while waiting for her accomplice to turn up at the pre-arranged location. All these clues lead me to think that Diane was working with a 'bushy-haired man' who took the gun with him after he'd shot the kids. If Diane had done the shooting herself I don't see how she could’ve managed the whole thing within the time frame - she had to get rid of the gun in a seemingly undiscoverable place, she had to either wash her hands of any gun powder or get rid of the gloves she would've had to have been wearing to protect herself. Even then she couldn't’ve been sure that she hadn't gotten it on her clothes, so I just don't see how she could’ve been the only one involved in the crime.

What an interesting woman, and by interesting I mean batsh*t crazy, though not in a 'raving lunatic' clinical diagnosis type of way (doctors said she had numerous personality disorders, but was definitely sane), crazy in the way that she must have been crazy to believe that she could murder her kids and get away with it and crazy to think that all she needed to do to get 'Lew' back for good was to eliminate her children from the picture.

I looked Diane up on Wikipedia this morning and listened to Diane's second parole board hearing in 2010, she sounds even more confused about what the 'true' story is than ever. She gave the parole board her story of what happened the night of the shootings and it's considerably different from the two different stories that were related in this book. She discussed having a boyfriend, who had never been mentioned before, who claimed to work for the FBI; she said that the reason she and the kids went out that night was to pick up photos for this boyfriend; she made a slip when she said that the gunman had jumped in the car in order to shoot the children (previously she had said that the gunman was outside of the car with her when the children were shot). I don't think you can trust anything this woman says, about anything.

I'm glad to read that she's still in jail and that as of 2010 she will not be eligible for parole for another 10 years.

Jul 13, 2014

Yet another well written Ann Rule novel. Her details are fantastic and allow you to visualize the area at the time the crime occurred. I wouldn't recommend trying to sit through the movie version though, it was incredibly poor.

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