Tuesday, September 21, 2010
I recently received an interesting email from a fan of True Crime stories. This was Todd Jensen, who wrote:
I recently discovered your blog. Considering that I work with forensiccolleges.net 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.