I'm an Editor in book publishing. All opinions are my own.
For a really long while I thought of True Crime as being a seedy genre, written by low-brow "journalists" who mostly cared about shock value rather than truth and analysis, and read by weirdos who probably wrote fan letters to famous prison inmates. Not sure why I thought this, but I really did.
I was drawn into the genre by a couple works of literary non-fiction: DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY (which is only really half true crime, the other half being just narrative history) and THE SUSPICIONS OF MR. WHICHER by Kate Summerscale. The former was a selection of my book club. The latter I read because I have a particular interest in 19th-century novelist Wilkie Collins, whose novel THE MOONSTONE was partially inspired by the crime at the heart of Summerscale's book. Both these works of narrative history are fascinating, utterly compelling, and read with the pace and excitement of a novel. These were my intro into true crime.
Though as with any genre there is a qualitative spectrum, I've found that there is a lot of truly wonderful true crime out there. Recent favorites included PEOPLE WHO EAT DARKNESS, a fascinating account of a contemporary crime in Japan, and MIDNIGHT IN PEKING, a historical true crime. On my TBR list are LOST GIRLS and COLUMBINE, both of which I've heard are really insightful and enlightening (though ironically, the crimes at the heart of LOST GIRLS have not been solved).
Have you ever been surprised to enjoy something you thought wouldn't be to your taste?