News for the readership first: Gold Part 2 is tabled for now! I actually posted it at one point and then retracted it after my number one reader pointed out that I was too obscure in making my case on how Dr. Straub was wrong on the internet. It's in the queue for rewriting, but it will be a massive rewrite and there are a few posts I want to do first - like the one below - instead of holding everything up while I bang my head on redoing Gold Part 2.


This topic has been in the queue for a while now and it's time for it to see the light of day, especially since it really is already written and posted as an amazon.com book review. What happened is that I wrote a review and went back a few years later to revise it (details are below as to why). The reason I'm posting this here on my blog is because someone in the comments on the review accused me a being a troll without investigating the verifiable facts I put in my original review. That just made me mad because to accuse me a being a troll and making up stuff without actually bothering to verify the details I listed for that very purpose is what I might politely call contempt prior to investigation.

I can swallow most drivel on the internet but as this blog proves, I can't let some things slide. I went back to amazon.com to revise the review I wrote in 2012 about Ann Rule's book that discusses the Susan Powell case with the title Fatal Friends, Deadly Enemies. I'm going to show my original review, my revised review and the comments that I have taken issue with.

First, my original review on Fatal Friends, Deadly Neighbors: Ann Rule's Crime Files Volume 16:

Upfront I will be honest and disclose that my interest in this particular Ann Rule book was mostly due to the Susan Powell case since I am close to some of the folks who were Susan's friends in Salt Lake City. That being said, I have to say that I am disappointed in the Susan Powell account which contains several minor factual errors. For example, Rule states that Susan vomited after eating the meal Josh Powell served her on the afternoon of 12/6/2009 and that is not true. She reports the price of Josh Powell's DEX ad as $10,000 when in reality is was $100,000. She gets the address of the Powell house in West Valley City wrong. There are several other minor mistakes like this but I think I've managed to make my point here. All of the errors I list here could have been avoided by better research, especially since people with firsthand knowledge of these matters have discussed them openly and in detail on various Facebook groups, internet forums and blogs. But aside from news media and internet sources, many of the errors reported could have been avoided if Rule had actually contacted more of Susan's friends and acquaintances. What disappoints me most is that there are at least two people I know very close to this case who are quoted in Rule's text who were never actually contacted directly by Rule or anyone working for Rule; and that leaves me wondering what Rule used as sources of information for her quotes. Frankly, that's just plain sloppy journalism for someone of Rule's stature as a crime reporter.

Granted, the errors are all minor, but they could have been avoided. It leaves me wondering, however, whether the other cases covered in this book are also subject to these types of errors and slapdash research. Looking beyond this problem, I will note that like usual for Ann Rule, the pacing is excellent and the narrative is gripping. There is no argument that Ann Rule is one of the best wordsmiths in the True Crime genre; but I just can't get around my disappointment in discovering that Rule's research wasn't as good as her ability to captivate her readers, hence my rating of just three stars.

Now here's my revised review:

Upfront I will be honest and disclose that my interest in this particular Ann Rule book was mostly due to the Susan Powell case since I am close to some of the folks who were Susan's friends in Salt Lake City. That being said, I have to say that I am disappointed in the Susan Powell account which contains several minor factual errors. <<<<text deleted with a list of minor errors>>> What disappoints me most is that there are at least two people I know very close to this case who are quoted in Rule's text who were never actually contacted directly by Rule or anyone working for Rule; and that leaves me wondering what Rule used as sources of information for her quotes.

<<< more text deleted, originally expressing my disappointment >>>

I will note that like usual for Ann Rule, the pacing is excellent and the narrative is gripping. There is no argument that Ann Rule is one of the best wordsmiths in the True Crime genre; but I just can't get around my disappointment in discovering that Rule's research wasn't as good as her ability to captivate her readers

<<<rating comment deleted>>>

Comments as of 13 Sept 2014. I think I was in the first ten people to review this book on Amazon. I have now revised by rating upward. After I wrote this review, I discovered that Rule's main sources of info were Chuck and Judy Cox. Granted Rule did not contact the Salt Lake City folks closest to this crime but given that she was talking directly with Susan's parents, and given how fast Rule had to write this book (even old pros like her have deadline pressures), the sources she used can't be impeached at all and the minor errors that crept in are understandable. Even with errors, it's a worthy read. I say that from the perspective of truly deep knowledge on this case since after more than five years, there are still several of us still working with Susan's friends in SLC in the ongoing search to find her remains.

Here are the comments I have taken offense over:

LifeIsGood says: The reviewer attacked Ann Rule. How do we know that HE knows the actual, correct information, like the correct address? That is a question that I have for him. This reviewer is a Troll.

JulieM. says: I agree with LifeIsGood. Some errors could be typos, but how does this person know if she vomited or not? An address being incorrect affects the story in what way? AND, sometimes authors are given wrong information or editors don't catch errors. In the end, So What?

Now here is my response, having found the comments on my original review:

I have never responded before to a comment on any of my reviews. When I said I was close to this case, I was being modest. It is not my habit to name drop nor grandstand my expertise or credentials. I am involved in the ongoing forensic investigation to find Susan Powell's remains and work with the PI hired by the Cox family to provide certain scientific analyses of evidence within my areas of study, in which I am published academically and have taught at the University level. I have personally spent hundreds of hours working on finding Susan along with other professionals and non-professional friends and family of Susan Cox Powell. Right now there is a box of evidentiary material from Susan Powell's purse that Chuck Cox sent me a couple of months ago to analyze and identify. That's how close I am to this case. I opine that my knowledge of this case is extremely deep and detailed and there is very little about it that I don't already know. When I said there were errors in this book in my original review and took the time and trouble to list a few of those errors, it was to show actual examples of factual content vs. errors. It was there for those who might want to bother to verify my information, like the error on the vomiting or the error on the address. You yourself could have bothered to do so though you chose to challenge my bona fides and truthfulness instead without first verifying my statements. Anyone can do that simple task of fact checking on the Susan Powell case, afterall, by reading the case files, many of which are available to the public at a website build by KSL TV in SLC at http://www.ksl.com/?sid=25263938&nid=148&title=west-valley-city-documents-relating-to-the-susan-powell-case. I suggest that the next time you want to write a comment like the one you wrote above, that you do a little research first before resorting to contempt prior to investigation.

I only saw your comment claiming I was a troll when I went to edit my original review in light of information I have since learned from Ann Rule via one of Susan Powell's friends that visited with Rule in 2013. That's what people who work in science do professionally: revise their conclusions in the venue where they published their remarks when they find their original analysis has flaws. I found I had to revise what I said about Rule's book in light of what I learned about how Rule wrote it, something I felt was needed since I claimed closeness to this case in my original review as part of my claim of authority to speak on the factual errors of the book's first printing. Greater claims of authority and credibility also have greater responsibility for honesty and disclosure. I am still disappointed in Rule's errors but that disappointment is now attenuated by the newer knowledge of Rule's main sources of information and the deadline pressure she was under while writing this book. I also learned that Rule is now in her 80s, something I did not realize. That someone of her age can still produce the things she still writes is rather astounding if you think about it and a lot more admirable in my eyes than others of her generation just sitting around on a beach in Florida or on a golf course in Arizona and doing not much of anything other than being retired. Thinking is work and most people are lazy. Whatever else one might say about Ann Rule, she's not lazy!

So for the record, someone was way wrong on the internet, because while I may be an arrogant effete in-your-face know-it-all, the one thing I am not is a troll.

Grumpy scientist is grumpy!