I used to know someone who lived in Gold Beach, Oregon, but she died about a decade ago. So I've visited there quite a few times and finally got around to buying and reading "Mortal Danger" (MD) by Ann Rule. I will say that the people in that town are very strange and actually oddly dangerous; I had a run-in with a guy there once who attempted to assault me quite a few years ago for no good reason other than he was having a bad day. He was definitely paranoid and he was almost surely violent, but luckily for me, a police officer stepped in to save the day.
Gold Beach may seem "idyllic" if you've been there, but just like the main antagonist in MD, don't let looks deceive you. There are some strange characters in that town and MD seems to support my case. You've probably already read the synopsis about the main story -- there are several stories included -- and so I won't bore you with the details. But John Branden, AKA John Williams, AKA a-whole-lot-of-other-aliases-that-I-can't-remember-off-hand lived in Gold Beach and he was surely worse than the guy who tried to assault me, that's for sure. Without giving much away, it is known that Mr. Branden killed at least one person but I believe that was probably just the tip of the iceberg, and there is some evidence he killed more. The FBI changed its definition of "serial killer" a few years ago to say, "Two is enough," but I think they added something like, "Well, he would've killed more if he hadn't have been caught," as an example. So Mr. Branden very well might have met the new definition of "serial killer." We'll most likely never know. (I actually believe that the FBI might change the definition of "serial killer" again. I've read cases where someone "only" killed one person but tried to kill others, and to me, he would fit the definition. After all, effort counts. Ahem.)
While reading, I was surprised to find out that Mr. Branden's major assault on his ex-girlfriend was most likely happening when I was visiting Gold Beach, and I vaguely remember the person mentioned in the first paragraph discussing the story when I was visiting. I didn't think much of it at the time; outside of the girlfriend probably no one did. Of course no one knew that the wildest part of the story was still to come, and if you take my recommendation to buy and read "MD" you'll learn the rest of the story. But I was also surprised while reading that many of the places discussed in the entire story occurred in cities and places I've visited: Orcas Island, Gig Harbor, Napa, and once again, Gold Beach. I, like probably most true-crime aficionados, prefer to read stories that are "close to home," as they say. It adds an element of intrigue, and when different restaurants, grocery stores, etc. are mentioned in the book you can more easily visualize what happened since you've been there.
I will admit, I've only read maybe two-thirds of MD, but I originally bought it strictly for the first story about the flight attendant and her out-of-control-con-man boyfriend. That story is probably worth the price alone. But I'm working on the second story now and surely will finish the book because, overall, it's a worthy effort for Ann Rule. I believe that her best work was done when she was younger but she still had a little left in the tank in the 2000s.
I'll go with a recommendation on "Mortal Danger," especially if you've lived in any of the areas discussed above. I'd also give a mild recommendation on visiting Gold Beach for its sights, but watch your step. I will probably never return myself since the person I knew there is no longer with us. Oh, and not to mention that run-in I had with one of Gold Beach's "fine citizens."
- MP3 CD
- Publisher: Brilliance Audio; Unabridged edition (1 September 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1501293044
- ISBN-13: 978-1501293047
- Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 1.6 x 14 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 68 g
- Customer Reviews: Be the first to review this item
Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
546,854 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #1915 in Organised Crime Accounts