If you happened to have listened to ‘My Two Favorite Librarians’, Denise and I took a very un-holiday turn recently and talked about true crime. True crime is one of the few genres Denise tries to avoid, but she recently finished I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara and I wanted to talk all about it.
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is one of the best true crime books of 2018. It was published in February 2018, two years after the death of author Michelle McNamara, two months before the arrest of the Golden State killer and 30 years after his last known murder. So is Denise a true crime convert? NO!! Absolutely not! She was however, compelled enough by Michelle’s writing to finish the whole book despite the terrifying subject.
One of the great classic true crime books is Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. I read this quite a few summers ago, when I used to try to improve myself with a few classics. This was the also my first Truman Capote and I can’t tell you how engaged I was with this book. It is so well written, especially in the beginning when Capote is laying out the scene of the crime and the police investigation, it was mesmerizing.
Another favorite is The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. Larson’s books are interesting and they are not pure true crime. I think a lot would consider them more historical non-fiction. All of his books contain two stories happening at the same time. In this book, one story is about serial killer H.H Homes, who sets up a fake hotel to murder visitors during 1893 World’s Fair. The second story is Daniel H Burnham, who was the architect who built the 1893 World’s Fair. The research and the information Larson gives you is amazing, but I was bogged down with the architect and ended up skipping over his chapters to get to the killer.
Ann Rule started out her prolific writing career by working along side Ted Bundy at a suicide hotline. The Stranger Beside Me was her debut book and an in depth look at the prolific serial killer. This was the book that really turned Denise off true crime. I am adding this to my 2019 reading list.
I’m not a Jack the Ripper fanatic, but I was a big fan of Patricia Cornwell’s Scarpetta series, when I read her non-fiction book Portrait of a Killer. This is a very controversial Jack the Ripper book and numerous critics have slammed Cornwell’s conclusions. Cornwell has stuck by her theory for the last 16 years, and even wrote a second book to follow up on new evidence.
Podcasts have become a major reason true crime has become so popular and now many of the podcasters have gotten the opportunity to write about the crimes they have covered. Serial is an example of a huge podcast success, with books being written about Adnan Syed, including Adnan’s Story: The Search for Truth and Justice after Serial by Radia Chaudry. Accused: the unsolved murder of Elizabeth Andes by Amber Hunt and Amanda Rossman is basically a transcript of the first season of the popular podcast.
Crime is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, and yet it has exploded in recent years into an incredibly popular genre, with TV shows, podcasts, conventions, and many more books. For more true crime books check out our website www.cumberlandpubliclibraries.ca
Chantelle Taylor is the deputy chief librarian for the Cumberland public libraries