Too Late to Say Goodbye: A True Story of Murder and Betrayal by Ann Rule

Cheryl Truman
McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)

True-crime author's lethal weapon: the indelible image.

Too Late to Say Goodbye: A True Story of Murder and Betrayal

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 0743238524
Author: Ann Rule
Price: $26.00
Length: 480
Formats: Hardcover
US publication date: 2007-06

Fun bit of trivia: Ann Rule's favorite book is Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird.

Here's my confession: Every time Ann Rule comes out with a new true-crime book, I read it the same day it arrives.

It is, I expect, the same kind of schadenfreude that makes us suckers for celebrity coverage in which beautiful rich people stuff themselves with drugs, starve themselves and shame their spouses. Who doesn't worry that they have a little ferocious malice just waiting to bubble to the surface? Or, conversely, who doesn't fret that they're about to be offed by the sociopath sitting next to them on the couch?

As readers, we are comforted in knowing that the chamber of horrors lurks in the sunniest of neighborhoods, among the prettiest of people. At least, we think, it ain't that bad at our house.

Still, we worry that there but for a little luck go our own families, guns blazing, knives flashing, hired killers barging through the back door.

But even if I am a true-crime book sucker, according to Rule's Web site, I am unlikely to harm a fly -- only obsessively curious about what makes bad people bad. (This is true, by the way: Last week, I lifted a worm out of the way of the lawn mower. I project as much physical menace as Snuggle the fabric-softener bear and am regularly approached by people who assume that I am a teacher, store clerk or parking attendant. It's only the way I write that makes people assume I have fangs.)

The thing that pulls you in about Rule's books isn't who did it; you know that before you crack the cover. The killers already are signed, sealed and imprisoned.

In many cases, Rule's books aren't even particularly revealing about the psychology of the person who did it: Diane Downs in Small Sacrifices, who killed one of her children and unsuccessfully tried to kill the two others, was stalking a married man who didn't want kids. Ted Bundy was Rule's late-night partner at a suicide crisis-counseling service before he became better known as one of America's most prolific serial killers; he was executed in 1989 and became the subject for Rule's book The Stranger Beside Me.

Texan Allen Blackthorne wasn't pleased when his wife, Sheila Bellush, moved on to another husband and bore him quadruplets; Bellush even told a relative to contact Rule if anything happened to her. The result? The best-selling Every Breath You Take, in which Bellush is found stabbed to death in her kitchen.

Nope, what sets Rule apart is that there's always one indelible image: The Bellush quadruplets crawling through their dead mother's blood. Diane Downs screeching into the emergency room on May 19, 1983, claiming that her injured children had been shot by a stranger. The body of Anne Marie Fahey, the Delaware governor's scheduling secretary, dumped at sea in 1996 by her jealous married lover in And Never Let Her Go: Thomas Capano: The Deadly Seducer. (A punctuation note: Rules loves her colons.)

In Too Late to Say Goodbye, Georgia dentist Barton Corbin kills his wife, Jennifer, and stages it to make it look like a suicide. One of the couple's young sons finds his mom's body.

As it turns out, Corbin had disposed of a dental school girlfriend 14 years earlier by staging another "suicide." One thing you can say about most of the arrogant killers profiled by Rule: They don't exactly have the most wide-ranging of toolboxes.

What's particularly sad about Jennifer Corbin's death is the Internet affair she had hoped would rescue her from her miserable marriage: She had begun an online relationship with a man she knew as Christopher.

There was no Christopher.

There was, however, an Anita.

Jenn Corbin found out only weeks before her death that the new life she had been hoping for was no more real than the facade of her happy marriage to Bart Corbin.

In Rule's books, it's the desperation of the victims that's the saddest tale of all.







The 10 Best Experimental Albums of 2015

Music of all kinds are tending toward a consciously experimental direction. Maybe we’re finally getting through to them.


John Lewis, C.T. Vivian, and Their Fellow Freedom Riders Are Celebrated in 'Breach of Peace'

John Lewis and C.T. Vivian were titans of the Civil Rights struggle, but they are far from alone in fighting for change. Eric Etheridge's masterful then-and-now project, Breach of Peace, tells the stories of many of the Freedom Riders.


Unwed Sailor's Johnathon Ford Discusses Their New Album and 20 Years of Music

Johnathon Ford has overseen Unwed Sailor for more than 20 years. The veteran musician shows no sign of letting up with the latest opus, Look Alive.

Jedd Beaudoin

Jazz Trombonist Nick Finzer Creates a 'Cast of Characters'

Jazz trombonist Nick Finzer shines with his compositions on this mainstream jazz sextet release, Cast of Characters.


Datura4 Travel Blues-Rock Roads on 'West Coast Highway Cosmic'

Australian rockers Datura4 take inspiration from the never-ending coastal landscape of their home country to deliver a well-grounded album between blues, hard rock, and psychedelia.


Murder Is Most Factorial in 'Eighth Detective'

Mathematician Alex Pavesi's debut novel, The Eighth Detective, posits mathematical rules defining 'detective fiction'.


Eyedress Sets Emotions Against Shoegaze Backdrops on 'Let's Skip to the Wedding'

Eyedress' Let's Skip to the Wedding is a jaggedly dreamy assemblage of sounds that's both temporally compact and imaginatively expansive, all wrapped in vintage shoegaze ephemera.


Of Purges and Prescience: On David France's LGBTQ Documentary, 'Welcome to Chechnya'

The ongoing persecution of LGBTQ individuals in Chechnya, or anywhere in the world, should come as no surprise, or "amazement". It's a motif undergirding the history of civil society that certain people will always be identified for extermination.


Padma Lakshmi's 'Taste the Nation' Questions What, Exactly, Is American Food

Can food alone undo centuries of anti-immigrant policies that are ingrained in the fabric of the American nation? Padma Lakshmi's Taste the Nation certainly tries.


Performing Race in James Whale's 'Show Boat'

There's a song performed in James Whale's musical, Show Boat, wherein race is revealed as a set of variegated and contradictory performances, signals to others, a manner of being seen and a manner of remaining hidden, and it isn't "Old Man River".


The Greyboy Allstars Rise Up to Help America Come Together with 'Como De Allstars'

If America could come together as one nation under a groove, Karl Denson & the Greyboy Allstars would be leading candidates of musical unity with their funky new album, Como De Allstars.


The Beatles' 'Help!' Redefined How Personal Popular Music Could Be 55 Years Ago

Help! is the record on which the Beatles really started to investigate just how much they could get away with. The album was released 55 years ago this week, and it's the kick-off to our new "All Things Reconsidered" series.


Porridge Radio's Mercury Prize-Nominated 'Every Bad' Is a Wonderful Epistemological Nightmare

With Every Bad, Porridge Radio seduce us with the vulnerability and existential confusion of Dana Margolin's deathly beautiful lyricism interweaved with alluring pop melodies.


​​Beyoncé's 'Black Is King' Builds Identity From Afrofuturism

Beyoncé's Black Is King's reliance on Afrofuturism recuperates the film from Disney's clutches while reclaiming Black excellence.

Reading Pandemics

Colonial Pandemics and Indigenous Futurism in Louise Erdrich and Gerald Vizenor

From a non-Native perspective, COVID-19 may be experienced as an unexpected and unprecedented catastrophe. Yet from a Native perspective, this current catastrophe links to a longer history that is synonymous with European colonization.


John Fullbright Salutes Leon Russell with "If the Shoe Fits" (premiere + interview)

John Fullbright and other Tulsa musicians decamped to Leon Russell's defunct studio for a four-day session that's a tribute to Dwight Twilley, Hoyt Axton, the Gap Band and more. Hear Fullbright's take on Russell's "If The Shoe Fits".

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.