I have mixed feelings about true crime books. If they’re good, they’re great, if they’re not they are usually incredibly hacky, sensational, and very bad. There’s not much room in between and I think either way they are sensationalist and voyeuristic.
And who wants to be called a voyeur?
Be that as it may, I did enjoy Mailer’s Executioner’s Song a great bit and if it’s done well true crime books can be as enjoyable a read as a good (fictional) crime book.
So anyway, Louis Theroux posted a list of true crime books he enjoyed and I thought that’s a good way to separate the wheat from the chaff and dig in. Some of them I’ve read before, some I remember being on the reading list of an anthropology class I wanted to take and wasn’t allowed to, and some of them just sound interesting.
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
- People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd-Parry
- Savage Grace by Natalie Robinson and Steven M. L. Aronson
- My Dark Places by James Ellroy
- Fatal Vision by Joe McGinniss
- Remembering Satan by Lawrence Wright
- Columbine by Dave Cullen
- Cries Unheard by Gitta Sereny
- As If by Blake Morrison
- Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
- Manson by Jeff Guinn
Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer
- Lucky by Alice Sebold
- Bully by Jim Schutze
Executioner’s Song by Norman Mailer
- Ten Rillington Place by Ludovic Kennedy
- A Cold Case by Philip Gourevitch
Theroux adds a short paragraph to every book writing what it’s about and what he thought of it, but to read that you gotta head over to his post.