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Tuesday, September 21, 2010


I recently received an interesting email from a fan of True Crime stories.  This was Todd Jensen, who wrote:

Hi Joan,

I recently discovered your blog. Considering that I work with I spend a lot of time on the Internet browsing blogs, and I must say that yours has caught my attention. Coincidentally, we recently published an article entitled (10 Books About Real World Crimes) that I believe would draw considerable interest from your readers. If you are interested in sharing with them, then feel free to do so. Here's the link for your convenience:  TEN BOOKS ABOUT TRUE CRIMES.

It is certainly a fascinating topic.  I feel as if true crime books would develop quite a fan base if they were easier to catalogue and sell.  I have published one myself -- In the Wake of Madness, the truly bloodcurdling story of a whaling captain who was also a serial killer.  The descriptions of the slow and brutal murder of one of his crew -- written by other members of the crew, who stood by helplessly and watched -- were particularly terrible.  As I said to my editor at the time, I used to wake up from heart-pounding nightmares while I was researching and writing the yarn. When I looked for it in bookshops, though, once it had left the "new books" table, it was very hard to find, slotted in a bottom shelf in the nonfiction area.  It's the same in libraries -- there is no easy category for true crime.  The obvious answer is to have a special true crime section immediately following mystery novels.

Todd's site has a list of favorite true crime books, to which a friend -- also a fan of the much neglected genre -- would add Ben MacIntyre's The Napoleon of Crime: the Life and Times of Adam Worth, the Real Moriarty.  (Moriarty, for those of you who are too young to know, was the nemesis of Sherlock Holmes -- until Arthur Conan Doyle resusciated the hero, in response to public outcry.)

My own addition would be Eric Ambler's The Ability to Kill, a collection of yarns that range from rousing and interesting accounts of such classic villains as Jack the Ripper and Burke & Hare, to more modern candidates for notoriety, James Hanratty and Finch & Tregoff.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps NZ and the USA are different, but in the UK both bookshops and libraries have true crime sections. They have the unfortunate reputation of being peopled by those who don't take their pills quite as often as they should.


World of the Written Word said...

That's scary!!!