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If I am Missing or Dead: A Sister's Story of Love, Murder, and Liberation | [Janine Latus]

If I am Missing or Dead: A Sister's Story of Love, Murder, and Liberation

In April 2002, Janine Latus' youngest sister, Amy, wrote a note and taped it to the inside of her desk drawer. "Today Ron Ball and I are romantically involved", it read, "but I fear I have placed myself at risk in a variety of ways. Based on his criminal past, writing this out just seems like the smart thing to do. If I am missing or dead this obviously has not protected me...."
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Publisher's Summary

In April 2002, Janine Latus' youngest sister, Amy, wrote a note and taped it to the inside of her desk drawer. "Today Ron Ball and I are romantically involved", it read, "but I fear I have placed myself at risk in a variety of ways. Based on his criminal past, writing this out just seems like the smart thing to do. If I am missing or dead this obviously has not protected me...."

That same spring, Janine Latus was struggling to leave her marriage - a marriage to a handsome and successful man. A marriage others emulated. A marriage in which she felt she could do nothing right and everything wrong. A marriage in which she felt afraid, controlled, inadequate, and trapped.

Ten weeks later, Janine Latus had left her marriage. She was on a business trip to the East Coast, savoring her freedom, attending a work conference, when she received a call from her sister Jane asking if she'd heard from Amy. Immediately, Janine's blood ran cold. Amy was missing.

Helicopters went up and search dogs went out. Coworkers and neighbors and family members plastered missing posters with Amy's picture across the county. It took more than two weeks to find Amy's body, wrapped in a tarpaulin and buried at a building site. It took nearly two years before her killer, her former boyfriend Ron Ball, was sentenced for her murder.

Amy died in silent fear and pain. Haunted by this, Janine Latus turned her journalistic eye inward. How, she wondered, did two seemingly well-adjusted, successful women end up in strings of physically or emotionally abusive relationships with men? If I Am Missing or Dead is a heart-wrenching journey of discovery as Janine Latus traces the roots of her own, and her sister's, victimization with unflinching candor.

©2007 Janine Latus; (P)2007 Tantor Media Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Unforgettable, unsentimental, and profoundly affecting, Latus' book resonates long after the final page is turned." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (118 )
5 star
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3.6 (22 )
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  •  
    Angie Kansas City, MO, United States 05-05-11
    Angie Kansas City, MO, United States 05-05-11 Member Since 2005

    Immigration lawyer in Kansas City. I like Character driven dramas, fantasy (monsters, magic and witches oh my!) and coming of age stories. Favs include: The Book Thief, The Game of Throne series, Harry Potter Series, Dresden Files, Nightside series, anything by Neil Gaimen, 100 Years of Solitude.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    361
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    "I felt deceived by this book"

    I was expecting a true crime book about the murder of the author's sister, maybe about the sister's life what lead to the murder, the trial etc. What it actually was was the story of the douchy men in the author's life, pervy icky dad, physically abusive boyfriends, mentally, emotionally abusive husbands. A life time of abuse and victimization at the hands of me. At chapter 28 when the sister still had not gone missing I checked my library to see if there was another part. There wasn't. While the story was well written and sort of interesting it was not the story that is portrayed in the title or blurb . It is really a memoir that includes the kidnapping of the author's sister, a kidnapping that, frankly, was treated as almost an after thought, only 2-3 chapters even talking about the kidnapping at the very end of the book. I was disappointed

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Gordon New York, NY 07-04-07
    James Gordon New York, NY 07-04-07 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Spellbinding"

    I wasn't paying attention when I purchased this book. I thought I was getting one of those true crime tomes done by authors like Anne Rule. Nothing wrong with that, but what this book is is so much more.

    Once I got past the initial shock of hearing about the author's childhood (not something I thought I was interested in), I settled into what turned out to be a thrilling read. This book is really about that thing in us that allows intelligent, educated and giving individuals to settle for less in love than we deserve. It happens to both sexes and this book is clearly dealing with the subject in depth.

    I think the author, Janine Latus, is a genius in coming to relate the horror of her own marriage, the murder of her younger sister and the pain caused by this inability to get out of what surely are horrific relationships.

    I don't think I've learned as much from a book in recent years. This is a spellbinding search for our real souls.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    LillyO Idaho Falls, ID USA 12-17-10
    LillyO Idaho Falls, ID USA 12-17-10 Member Since 2003

    LillyO

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    "Message Lost in Delivery"

    Such a great opportunity to get a strong message "out there" lost in borderline narcissism. Sigh. Would feel better if Janine had spent less time belaboring the point that they BOTH made bad choices in men (thanks, dad) and more time telling what she's learned. It would turn this from whiny to redemptive! Great narrator, tho!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Busconi VT, USA 12-08-08
    J. Busconi VT, USA 12-08-08 Member Since 2007

    Amazon fan

    HELPFUL VOTES
    63
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    48
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    "Very quick listen"

    Overall the story was well told and the narrator-decent. It was quick and easy to follow along with but just not that intersting in my opinion.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Therese M. Mendez New Orleans, LA USA 07-28-07
    Therese M. Mendez New Orleans, LA USA 07-28-07 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Stunning"

    With, "If I am Missing or Dead", Janine Latus has written a stunning autobiography/biography striking chords that will resonante with her audience for a very long time. Latus weaves a story that interconnects each of the players until the final loss of her sister Amy rips the fabric of all of their lives. She skillfully connects the good with the bad and the comic with the ultimate tragedy. Bravo. This is a masterpiece.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ellen Kansas City, MO, United States 07-02-07
    Ellen Kansas City, MO, United States 07-02-07 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "All About Janine"

    The premise is chilling. I wish the author had delved more into why Amy was so into this guy, who was obviously using her. The author seemed to have picked up on the role their father played in forming the daughters' self-esteem, but in my opinion the author still has a long way to go in healing her own self-esteem. Frankly I'd probably have liked Amy a lot better than I would like to get to know Janine Latus. I wouldn't like to be in the same room with her.
    I know she has healing to do but her little asides about other people and their inferiority are just astounding!

    All through the book, single people are "losers." People who are not as trim, slim, wealthy, attractive and fashionable as Janine and her then-husband are losers too. "We were the couple everyone wanted to be!" Just when you think Latus is going to come down off her perch and be happy to embrace the regular people, she does it again. Horrors, she can't take the job in North Carlina, that's tobacco country and she just knows there won't be any kindred spirits! And when she starts dating again, the dismissive way she rejects guys on the basis of "paunch" and some other externals--all I can say is some of the sweetest, most loving, and supportive non-controlling guys have a little "paunch." I'm not saying Janine deserved her controlling husband--I am just saying she sure comes across as conceited.
    How is she going to handle aging if she's that wrapped up in her looks? This book should have been titled "How Superior I, Janine Latus, Am." Maybe her dad made her overcompensate, ego-wise.

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Twin Cities, MN 06-12-07
    Amazon Customer Twin Cities, MN 06-12-07 Member Since 2001

    Audio Book Fiend

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Amazing"

    This book truly moved me and I plan on buying a copy to circulate between my sisters and my friends. There were so many relationship truths in this book, and I found myself saying over and over "I thought that just happened to me." And the story was told in a way that I didn't want to stop listening, I truly enjoyed every minute. If you're a woman, I highly recommend that you read this book and then urge 5 of your friends to read it. If you're a man, read this book to understand how women really feel.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Cribley Houston, Tx 01-11-08
    J. Cribley Houston, Tx 01-11-08 Member Since 2004

    *j

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Get the abridged"

    I expected a different book. I thought it would be about a woman in a situation that leads to her death, about how she dealt with this since she seemed to expect it. BUT it's about the author. For over 10 hours I've listen about this woman's unsettling marriage while the sister, who later turns up missing, participates in phone calls to support her. The book started at age 3 and carries you into her 40's!!! It feels like a 18 chapter introduction. Get the abridged.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amy Clinton, NY, USA 08-22-07
    Amy Clinton, NY, USA 08-22-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
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    "ok"

    This was not what I expected from the book. THe title and most of the story line makes you think that the main character is going to be the victim but then towards the end there is the real victim exposed. I couldn't stop listening to the book because of its dramatic nature but it really did not give me a whole lot to work with in the end.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Yvonne Washington, MO, United States 08-10-07
    Yvonne Washington, MO, United States 08-10-07 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    "A waste of time"

    This book is just dreadful! I wanted to learn about the sister's life and death, not about the author's dysfunctional marriage.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
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