Feminist, Fictionista, Foodie, Francophile

Friday, January 24, 2014

Fiction Friday: Thoughts on True Crime Books

I have friends who read a lot (a whole lot) of true crime. For them it's relaxing and entertaining and engaging. Certainly they'll never run out of titles to read, from lit fic (Truman Capote's In Cold Blood and Norman Mailer's Executioner's Song) to quickie books churned out in the wake of controversial court cases. (There were no less than 11 books published in the wake of Casey Anthony's trial for the murder of her daughter.)

I don't read that much true crime. Some cases are pretty fascinating--I read two different accounts of the Jon-Benet Ramsey murder investigation--but I realized that I mostly prefer fiction to fact. But there have been some books that So for #fictionfriday, I decided to list the true crime books that I found memorable. They were, in no particular order:

1.  Serpentine by Thomas Thompson--Thompson wrote great true crime books, many of them just crying out for the "miniseries" treatment. The killer here was a handsome, enigmatic man named Charles Sobhraj and the tale is a globe-hopping "odyssey of love and evil" that stretches from Paris to Hong Kong, with a stop at Mt. Everest along the way.
2. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson--I have a particular fondness for period murder mysteries that just happen to be true.
3.  The Napoleon of Crime by Ben Macintyre--see above. This is the bio of a fascinating master thief named Adam Worth.
4. Fire Lover by Joseph Wambaugh--This is an account of a decorated fire firefighter who was secretly an arsonist. I had a personal connection to the case in that one of the stores he burned up was a place I used to shop. It's pretty chilling. This case also attracted the attention of NOVA, which did an episode on it.
5, And the Sea Will Tell by Vincent Bugliosi. Bugliosi, who prosecuted Charles Manson, is probably more famous for Helter Skelter than this book, but I found And the Sea Will Tell a lot more interesting, probably because the Manson story has been told and retold and told to death. It's the story of a double murder of a yachting couple and was made into a television movie.


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