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I'm a fan of true crime as a subject, but as a genre I find it hit and miss. I prefer more literary true crime to Ann Rule and Harold Schechter style books, but I'll give anything a go. Would love to see more discussion on this group and hope a few members join in.
My mini reviews/comments on the true crime books I've read since joining LT give you some idea of my tastes:
My library illustrates that I read just about any true crime but most of it is of the trashy paperback variety. I choose books by the ratio of ink to white space on the page; the lower the ratio, the less likely I am to purchase the book. I also won't read any true crime books about cases that are still "in process"; too much can change between the accusations and the trials. But long unsolved crimes are fine.
Ann Rule is my favorite true crime author because her books (her hardcover single-crime books) read like fiction with lots of suspense and background. Joe McGinniss is another author of the same ilk.
So name your favorites.
(I meant nuts about true crime, NOT that we're nuts).
By literary true crime, I meant those books where the style of writing is used as a means to get into the heads/motivations of the perpetrators, and the effects on the victims, by painting a picture rather than simply relating the facts. Two in particular stand out for me: Happy Like Murderers, about Fred and Rose West, where Gordon Burn has tried to depict the whole mood and attitude of the West household and the crimes committed there; and Beyond Belief: The Moors Murderers, where Emlyn Williams uses made-up dialogue between the murderers to suggest how they would have worked together, although in all other respects he stuck to the facts and interviews.
I have heard about Beyond Belief: The Moors Murderers but I can't remember if I've read it. Is the book about the Wests about the people who killed a young girl or woman and hid her body in the walls of their house?
By the way, I could very easily be nuts, you know. But that doesn't make me any less credible :).
You almost got it - the Wests were a couple who kidnapped girls, tortured and killed them, and buried them in their cellar, all while renting rooms out and bringing up a family under the same roof. They were very dysfunctional and went undetected for years - there were loads of missed opportunities and the book deals very well with how social changes in their lifetimes played a role in that. There are quite a few books about them, it was a very sensational case over here at the time (the early 90s).
Ann Rule isn't a favourite but there's a lot about her books I like. She's very consistent, very readable, well balanced, does her research, and involves the reader just as much in the victims and the people who work on the cases. She strikes a fine balance between the purely factual and more novel-like books.
Ann Rule's books are easy to read so it's worth trying at least one to see if you like her style. She certainly isn't a struggle to get in to.
Sounds a really interesting topic. Personally, I'm less bothered by subject material and more concerned with the way a book is written - I do like a book that tries to get under the skin of its subject, and I like a balanced approach rather than sensationalism.
Didn't realise 'cops turning bad' happened with any particular frequency so you've already got me intrigued, and I'd be keen to know more about the pressures, what aspects of the job were most stressful and what crimes, what support there was, how it impacted on the person's ability to do their job, and how the police 'police' themselves when things go wrong. Also, as a cop, whether you agree or disagree with any studies on the subject, and how your colleagues felt.
I know someone who turned very cynical and negative working in the emergency services for years and she'd often recommend books to me, although the emphasis on the ones she liked seemed to be about how awful the public were, like listening to people moaning and/or joking in the pub after a shift. Great for those who work in those jobs I'm sure, not at all interesting to me, but there's a market.
Good luck anyway and let us know how you get on :)
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