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True Crime

July 2nd, 2014 · Marilyn H. · Staff Recommendations

Our society seems fascinated by crime. We have, of course, a legal system to deal with criminals, but we also have an odd interest in them. We watch television shows about them, read books about their lives and their crimes, and even have nicknames for the worst of them-Jack the Ripper, the Zodiac Killer, Son of Sam, BTK, Black Dahlia, The Freeway Killer, the Night Stalker, to name a few.

Who are these people and how did they become such monsters? As horrifying as they are, we want to know about them. In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences by Truman Capote is a modern American classic in this genre. It arrived on the scene in 1963 and detailed the murder of the Clutter family in 1959 rural Kansas. An important contribution was the excellently written The Executioner’s Song(1979) by Norman Mailer, an account of serial killer Gary Gilmore.

The quality of the subsequent outpouring of published true crime books varies as sometimes sensationalism and fiction take precedence over truth, but there are many high quality entries in the field. Here are a few:

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