Obsessed with True Crime discussion

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message 1: by Amy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:33AM) (new)

Amy Mawdsley What are some of the best true crime books or subjects you have read? I think it would be cool to learn of some new material to read.

message 2: by Laura (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:03PM) (new)

Laura (laurahogan) | 20 comments My favorite is the granddaddy of them all: In Cold Blood. But I'm sure everyone here has read that six times.

My other favorites are:

Fatal Vision, by Joe McGuinness
Blind Faith, also by Joe McGuinness
A Deadly Game: The True Story of the Scott Petersen Investigation, by Cathleen Crier (yeah, I'm embarrassed about this one, but I really liked it)

Nope, nothing by Ann Rule, who I think is a hack.

message 3: by Jessica (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:04PM) (new)

Jessica Fatal Vision is really good.

I'll always have a soft spot for Helter Skelter, with all its flaws and Bugliosi's massive ego, because it was one of the first true crime stories I ever got into.

I agree that Ann Rule is a hack, but her Ted Bundy book, which should have been her only book, is pretty good.

And I know I'm an idiot, but Nancy Spungeon's mother's book, even though it's more of a memoir than a true crime account of her murder, is just awesome, in a terrible sort of way.

message 4: by Cathy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:12PM) (new)

Cathy | 1 comments The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Eric Larsen

message 5: by Amy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:20PM) (new)

Amy Mawdsley THanks for the suggestions, I am always looking for new crimes to read about.

I will be an Ann Rule fan forever. I think because she cares so much for the people she is writing about.

message 6: by Amy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:20PM) (new)

Amy Mawdsley While I really want to read Helter Skelter, It is one of the few books that creeps me out. I have never been able to get through more than a few chapters.

Way too heavy. Maybe at some point I will be able to handle it.

message 7: by Kristin (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:24PM) (new)

Kristin The Murder of Helen Jewett

Fatal Vision

Son of a Grifter: The Twisted Tale of Sante and Kenny Kimes

Killing Pablo

message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

I tried reading Helter Skelter once when I was in high school, but couldn't get into it. I reread it about two years ago and loved it. It's a little heavy, but a really good book. Then again I'm a huge fan of any book on serial killers. I used to be a Ann Rule fan, but now I'm not digging her that much. However, her book on Ted Bundy (A Stranger Beside Me) is a good read.

message 9: by Kate (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:29PM) (new)

Kate (katiebobus) | 1 comments I really enjoyed The Count and the Confession.

Next on my true-crime list is Our Guys.

message 10: by Laura (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:30PM) (new)

Laura (laurahogan) | 20 comments Oh my god, that book was SO. DEPRESSING. (Our Guys, I mean.)

message 11: by John (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:30PM) (new)

John A couple of recommendations in this genre ...

"Safe Harbor" by Brian MacDonald: girl meets boy, girl realizes boy is unstable, girl detaches self from boy, boy tracks down girl on remote island, no more girl. Verdict came down a couple of months ago.

"Pointing from the Grave" by Samantha Weinberg: intruder forces woman home alone to have oral sex at gunpoint, victim found dead in front yard not long after testifying at preliminary hearing, intruder pleads guilty to lesser charge; evidence against intruder for murder completely circumstantial, so no charges filed. Fast-forward 15 years to DNA technology breakthroughs. Trial at last.

message 12: by Adriane (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:30PM) (new)

Adriane (justbooks4me) | 1 comments I have to admit that I am an Ann Rule follower, for those who don't care for her much sorry, :(

My favorites are the collections, those who profile a lot of different ones. I have 2 the Serial Killers (True Crime) by James Alan Fox and
The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers by Michael Newton. My favorite by far however is
House Of Secrets by Lowell Cauffiel, I know it was really gory but it was very well written.

message 13: by peg (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:31PM) (new)

peg (mcicutti) | 50 comments One of the most intriguing true crime books I ever read is A Beautiful Child by Matt Birkbeck. The true identity of the victim in this story remains unidentified.

I also enjoyed Miss Lizzie by Walter Satterthwait which is a story about Lizzie Borden; Inside the Mind of Scott Peterson by Keith Ablow; and Portrait of a Killer by Patricia Cornwell. I know that I will take a lashing for the Cornwell book. Experts on Jack the Ripper have discounted Cornwell's findings but I rather enjoyed her descriptions of her suspects mileau and psychological makeup.Perhaps Portrait of a Killer would qualify as a fictionalized crime story.

Has anyone read The Postcard Killer? I understand that the murderer in this story stalked the streets of New York during the same period of time Jack the Ripper was making history in London.

message 14: by peg (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:31PM) (new)

peg (mcicutti) | 50 comments From what I understand Helter Skelter is a fictionalized version the crime. Am I right?

message 15: by Rachel (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:34PM) (new)

Rachel | 1 comments I didn't really like true crime until I started reading Jack Olsen. Doc and Salt of the Earth are my favorites.

message 16: by Laura (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:34PM) (new)

Laura (laurahogan) | 20 comments Peg, no, Helter Skelter isn't fictionalized at all. It's an account of the crimes and the trial, written by Vincent Bugliosi, who prosecuted Charles Manson and three of the women who committed the murders. Nothing fictional, except to the extent Bugliosi is so grandiose that he makes himself sound like The Best Lawyer Who Ever Lived.

message 17: by peg (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:36PM) (new)

peg (mcicutti) | 50 comments Thanks for setting me straight,Laura:) I think that I was thinking of Capote's In Cold Blood. Wasn't that fictionalized?

message 18: by Laura (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:37PM) (new)

Laura (laurahogan) | 20 comments Well, In Cold Blood wasn't fictionalized in the sense I think you're using that word -- that is, a more or less true story presented as a novel, with made-up names of characters and so forth (a good example would be To Die For, a fictionalized account of the Pamela Smart story, by Joyce Maynard). It was written and marketed as straight-up true crime (before that phrase had been coined, of course).

But whether it's all 100 percent true depends who you ask, I guess. Truman Capote said every word was true and that he had total recall of every interview he did for the book. So while it wasn't billed as a fictionalized account, and all the names appearing in the book are real names (well, the important names, anyway), you may take that assertion with a grain of salt when you keep in mind that none of the interviews were taped.

message 19: by Kim (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:38PM) (new)

Kim (kimbers81) I would also have to say A Beautiful Child by Matt Birbeck.

message 20: by peg (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:39PM) (new)

peg (mcicutti) | 50 comments Kim,you are the first person that I have "met" who read that book:) That story has haunted me for a long time.

message 21: by Kim (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:42PM) (new)

Kim (kimbers81) A Beautiful Child really is a gooood book and I am suprised that more people have not read it.

message 22: by Clare (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:42PM) (new)

Clare | 18 comments I absolutely loved "If I Am Missing or Dead" by Jeanine Latus. It is about more than a crime but it is so riveting I read it in one night and my eyes are killing me.

message 23: by peg (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:45PM) (new)

peg (mcicutti) | 50 comments Another favorite of mine is Starvation Heights. It is one of the most chilling stories I have read. Has anyone else read it?

message 24: by Laura (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:45PM) (new)

Laura (laurahogan) | 20 comments Yep, I read it. I liked it too, but sort of a depressing ending.

message 25: by Sheryl (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:46PM) (new)

Sheryl | 49 comments Hi all,

Yes, I've read Starvation Heights and really loved it. It was sad, but a great read. I wish there were more true crime books of that caliber. i just read The Enigma Woman, about the first woman sentenced to death in California, which I recommend.


message 26: by peg (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:53PM) (new)

peg (mcicutti) | 50 comments Sheryl - I will definitely look for The Enigma Woman.

message 27: by Sheryl (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:54PM) (new)

Sheryl | 49 comments Hi Peg -- I'd be happy to loan it to you -- i think it's only in hardback now -- just let me know,


message 28: by peg (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:54PM) (new)

peg (mcicutti) | 50 comments Thanks for your offer Sheryl. I will keep you in mind. Right now I am a bit snowed under at work and it is interfering with my reading :)

message 29: by Craig (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:26PM) (new)

Craig (phillipwardlaw) | 12 comments Two of my favorite books are

Man of Honor by Joseph Bonanno


Accardo: The Genuine Godfather by:William F. Roemer,Jr.

message 30: by Jim (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:31PM) (new)

Jim | 7 comments Helter Skelter gives me the chills because I learned when I read it how close you can be to pure evil without knowing it. In 1967 I was working for a company called Redken which was a small company then and located in Van Nuys, Calif.
I hadn't been there long and the company had its Summer function at the Spawn Ranch. I hitchhiked out there and fortunately no one from the Manson Family picked me up.
I didn't know they lived there until I read Helter Skelter.
It still gives me the chills even today when I think about it, see anything about the Manson Family or here the book brought up.

Any one relate, I mean some body had to live next door to Dahmer etc.

message 31: by Robbie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:32PM) (new)

Robbie Bashore Cathalain:

I'm very glad to hear that I'm not the only one to have read this book in elementary school!


The closest I've come to that was finding out from my parents that someone I had been friends with for years,from middle school through college, confessed to stabbing his mother to death. Apparently, he had developed schizophrenia sometime after I knew him. Still, I found that creepy...and sad.

message 32: by peg (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:32PM) (new)

peg (mcicutti) | 50 comments Speaking of living in close proximity to murderers,Echoes in the Darkness by Joseph Wambaugh is particularly chilling to me. My husband's high school principal was convicted for the murder of one of the high school teachers.Previous to that, the same principal was suspected of killing his daughter and son-in-law. His involvement in the murder of the latter could never be proven on the grounds of unsufficient evidence.Oh, and did I mention the fact that the principal also robbed the Sears and Roebuck store at gunpoint wearing a ski mask? Creepy!

message 33: by Clare (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:32PM) (new)

Clare | 18 comments My friend at work often left her 6-year old daughter with a man and woman from her church while she had medical appointments. Imagine her surprise and shock when the man raped and killed the little girl next door (age 12)and buried her body in his basement. The whole community was in shock and I don't think we've ever really recovered.

message 34: by peg (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:32PM) (new)

peg (mcicutti) | 50 comments Clare - That's horrible.It's one thing to be personally threatened,quite another to unwittingly put your child in the hands of a murderous pedophile. Did the 6 year old ever say anything odd about the couple?

message 35: by Jim (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:32PM) (new)

Jim | 7 comments To tell you the truth, I'm sorry I brought up being close to evil - my story isn't even close by any stretch of the imagination to what's been brought up. I guess it shows you that it's not that unusual to have some inside knowledge about an event/person where you would have a leg up on a McGinnis/Rule in writing that story as you would have a first person perspective.------------ Also I have a feeling that when you looked into the perpertator or even the victim's life history, you would wonder whether any of us have the free will that Burgess tries to show exists in A Clockwork Orange.

message 36: by Sonky (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:32PM) (new)

Sonky | 7 comments Bundy (Ted, not Al...that's different kind of crime) went to my high school, was my sister's classmate; he dated a girl in high school whom I later knew through church.

I've seen a desk (circa 1980) into the front rim of which the initials TB were carved.

message 37: by Tracy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:33PM) (new)

Tracy | 3 comments my favorite is actually PARTY MONSTER (aks DISCO BLOODBATH) by james st. james. it's not really like any other true crime i've ever read, but the fact that it's written by one of the main characters, who was involved in the murder, really gives it that little extra something.

message 38: by Clare (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:34PM) (new)

Clare | 18 comments My friend defended the man to everyone saying that he was innocent until proven guilty. She didn't seem to want to think that he had actually killed a 12-year old girl. When he was on the stand, he described how he had killed her. I heard it on the radio and am still chilled to the bone when I remember his words. As far as I know, my friend's daughter never said anything bad about the man but his wife was home when the 6-year old was there, thank God.
It later came out that the man's daughter had made a claim that he had molested her and she was moved out of the home by authorities for a short time and then returned. She recanted her story but I think that was probably because she didn't want her father to get in trouble. The man's husband was a psychiatric nurse and it was often wondered if she had known things and had kept quiet.
The murder of the 12-year old girl was a horrible event in a neighboring town which I will never forget until the day I die. Whenever I ride by the house I think of it. It's scary.

message 39: by Clare (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:34PM) (new)

Clare | 18 comments Here is a brief description of the crime that I found on Google:
Henry Meinholtz----Mienholtz was a church deacon and former selectman who was convicted in 1991 for raping and suffocating a neighbor 14 yr old Melissa Benoit. Meinholtz buried her body in the basement of his house while he joined in her missing person search as well as comforting the girls parents. Convicted life in prison!

message 40: by peg (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:34PM) (new)

peg (mcicutti) | 50 comments Oh,Clare, I have chills from reading about Henry Meinholtz. I'm sure that your friend must have had difficulty accepting the fact that she had placed her child in his care. Of course she wasn't to blame but the guilt would have been overwhelming if any thing had happened to her 6 year old. Thank God that little girl was safe.

People in the medical profession often say that some professionals enter the psychiatric field because they have issues of their own to resolve. Of course that is not the case for the majority of psych workers but in Meinholtz's wife's case it may be true. How could a mother allow her daughter to live in the same house with the father who "may" have raped her in the past? She had to have been mentally ill herself.

message 41: by Cindy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:49PM) (new)

Cindy (wanna_read_all_the_books) I've been reading true crime since I was 10 or so. My mom would read one and pass it on to me. (We share the same obsessions lol) But I just read A Beautiful Child last month and it is by far the most touching and disturbing one I've ever read I think.

message 42: by Tina (new)

Tina (thumper79) | 2 comments I'm new here. :)

Here are my favorites:

The Complete Jack the Ripper

Sins of the Son

And by far my absolute favorite so far has been Devils Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three, probably because it happened so close to home.

♥ Marlene♥  | 65 comments Hi I am also new to goodreads and this is my first group I signed up for.

I loved A Beautiful Child by Matt Birkbeck.

My favorite subjects are:
Serial Killers
Mothers that kill
Teens that kill
(I have made a list on amazon a few years ago with the best books on that subject)

Not sure if anyone has mentioned this book.
The Crime of The Century by Dennis L. Breo (About Richard Speck who murdered 8 nurses in the same room at the same night)

message 44: by Amy (new)

Amy Mawdsley Welcome Marlene! It is so nice to have you here among the obsessed.

This is a great place to start a reading list.


message 45: by Alie (new)

Alie | 37 comments I agree with lots of your gold stars - Devil in White City, Fatal Vision, Helter Skelter, the Ann Rule Ted Bundy Book, In Cold Blood.

Here are some more: Sympathy for the Devil(about the Emmanuel Baptist murders in San Francisco) (there is another on the subject The Belltower by Robert Graysmith - he believes that it was Jack the Ripper), The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer (Mikal Gilmore's book, Shot in the Heart is pretty good too), The Night Stalker (not well written but fascinating), Small Sacrifices, Under the Banner of Heaven by Krakauer, Zebra by Clark.

The problem with true crime is that so few books are actually well written, it is just the stories that end up making most of the books worth reading.

message 46: by Jim (new)

Jim | 7 comments Alie

why do You think so few books about true crime are well written?

doesn't seem to be any harder than writing a chronicle/analysis of any type of human activity - war battles, sporting events, happenings etc

in fact it would seem easier than a lot of other topics
-identifiable event
public records
disinterested and interested witnesses

message 47: by Laura (new)

Laura (laurahogan) | 20 comments I agree with Alie. I have no explanation for why, but the genre does seem to attract a lot of hacks. See, e.g., A Descent into Hell, by Kathryn Someone (I've blissfully blocked her last name out of my mind), one of the worst-written books I've read in the past ten years or so. There are probably other genres that tend toward hackdom, but true crime does seem to be a particular offender. Doesn't keep me from reading it, of course.

message 48: by Alie (last edited Jul 20, 2008 10:27PM) (new)

Alie | 37 comments Laura, I'm laughing here. It doesn't stop me either (except for John Glatt whom I've sworn off of). Jim, I agree. I don't know why but I'd hazard a guess that it's because the publishing houses thought 'real readers' wouldn't read pruriant matter so the idea was to bang them out and sell them based on the crime itself. I think alot of good writers have stepped into the genre, Stebastian Junger, Norman Mailer, Jon Krakaur, Mikal Gilmore and others and they have sold well so I do believe that the publishing houses will be taking note of that and we can expect more. With all due respect, Robert Graysmith, Aphrodite Jones, John Glatt, in my opinion, recite facts but aren't able to evoke the whole picture or recreate the tone of the entire experience.

message 49: by Erzebetdahmer (new)

Erzebetdahmer | 4 comments I have a few favorites....

"The Shrine of Jeffrey Dahmer" and "Killing for Company", both by Brian Masters...excellent books! If you've not read them, I would HIGHLY recommend it. Masters did an excellent job in researching the cases, and the books are very well written and organized.

"Serial Killers: The Method and Madness of Monsters" by Peter Vronsky. This is, imo, one of the best books written in re: to serial killers. I absolutely love the fact he compares serial murder as a type of addiction...in truth, that is what it is for a serial killer; an addiction. Tons of info in this book.

"The Evil That Men Do" by Stephn Michaud and Roy Hazelwood (former FBI Profiler). Tons of good info in this book, I learned a lot about serial offenders and their crimes.

"Ted Bundy: Conversations with a Killer" by Stephen Michaud and someone else, I forget who off-hand. Basically, these are transcripts taken from hours of interviews with Bundy; quite an insight.

message 50: by Alie (new)

Alie | 37 comments I loved Starvation Heights too. My goodness gracious. Warning crude comment alert: I've never had an enema and I ain't never gonna after that book.

What is the Enigma Woman about?

I've heard that since Truman was having it off with Perry (am I getting the name straight?), that he wasn't as objective as he could have been. I don't know, just throwing it out there.

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