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The Loaded Bookshelf

I'm an Editor in book publishing. All opinions are my own.

Currently reading

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
John Berendt
American Rust
Philipp Meyer
The First Rumpole Omnibus
John Mortimer

Things I Apparently Love: True Crime

Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China - Paul French People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished from the Streets of Tokyo--and the Evil That Swallowed Her Up - Richard Lloyd Parry The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher Publisher: Walker & Company; Reprint edition - Kate Summerscale The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America - Erik Larson Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery - Robert Kolker Columbine - Dave Cullen

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?