The Mystery, Crime, and Thriller Group discussion

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Genre Discussions > true crime modern and historical

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message 1: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (last edited Jan 30, 2015 06:03AM) (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8951 comments Mod
I don't read much true crime, but when I do, it's usually from some crime committed in the past.

We've been neglecting nonfiction here -- this is your space to talk about any true crime books or books about the history or psychology of crime you'd like to discuss.


message 2: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 35954 comments I recently started Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood by William J. Mann. Too early to say if it is any good. Although one GR friend who knew people who were involved said it was OK. Which is a lot better than he said about Hot Toddy or the other book I read about the death of William Desmond Taylor (whose name currently escapes me).


message 3: by Gram (new)

Gram | 28 comments I don't read much true crime, but one I would highly recommend is "The Lost Boy" by Duncan Staff, who made a made a documentary on the Moors murders for BBC2 in 1999. In the course of his work on the programme, he invited Myra Hindley to put her side of the story and was surprised when she agreed. As a result of his access to Hindley, Duncan Staff was able to write an authorative story of the early lives of Hindley and her lover Ian Brady and their later rise to infamy with the kidnap, torture and murder of 4 young children in the 1960's. Despite his lengthy correspondence with Hyndley and his insight into her troubled life, Staff's writing shows that his sympathies always lie with the families of the 4 young children who were murdered by Myra Hindley and Ian Brady - especially the family of the last victim, Keith Bennett, whose body has never been recovered.


message 4: by Bill (new)

Bill I read In Cold Blood by Truman Capote last year after years of avoiding it. It was very interesting but at the same time, it did leave me feeling somewhat like, yeah, so what?? It is still one of those classics that you should attempt.


message 5: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8951 comments Mod
Gram wrote: "I don't read much true crime, but one I would highly recommend is "The Lost Boy" by Duncan Staff, who made a made a documentary on the Moors murders for BBC2 in 1999. In the course of his work on ..."

I saw a documentary a while back on Myra Hindley and Ian Brady (quite possibly the one you reference here) -- I just couldn't believe how truly evil those two people were. I was flabbergasted.


message 6: by Patricia (last edited Jan 30, 2015 06:17PM) (new)

Patricia Bergman (marshop) | 92 comments I read Radical Son A Generational Oddysey by David Horowitz by David Horowitz a couple of years ago and every once in a while a news story reminds me of some of the events he writes about in his book. Horowitz was raised as a Stalinist communist; even attended communist summer camp (in the U.S.). After the body of an employee/friend washed up onto the shore adjacent to San Francisco Bay, he began to reconsider his political philosophy. You will understand his sharp turn when you read the story in context. He details events surrounding Huey Newton, Donald Sutherland, Tom Hayden and many others that really surprised me.


message 7: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8951 comments Mod
Coming this weekend to HBO: The Jinx -- a true-crime documentary about Robert Durst, "a story that spans four decades, three murders, and one disturbingly wealthy man still freely walking the streets today."

http://www.criminalelement.com/blogs/...


message 9: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 35954 comments Nancy wrote: "Coming this weekend to HBO: The Jinx -- a true-crime documentary about Robert Durst, "a story that spans four decades, three murders, and one disturbingly wealthy man still freely walking the stre..."

I think he was featured on a show on ID the other day. Possibly Vanity Fair Confidential.


message 10: by Chrisl (new)

Chrisl (chrisl2) Nancy wrote: "I don't read much true crime, but when I do, it's usually from some crime committed in the past.

We've been neglecting nonfiction here -- this is your space to talk about any true crime books or ..."

Nancy,
Seeing the topic you posted, I thought of the library's 364 shelves, the Dewey catalog number for true crime, featuring Ann Rule and Jack Olsen. Another crime related book, Harr's Lost Painting is the one I'd most likely reread
The Lost Painting
Ann Rule
Jack Olsen


message 11: by Kelly (new)

Kelly | 686 comments I've never forgotten the gruesome murders of John List as told inRighteous Carnage


message 12: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8951 comments Mod
absolutely loved and highly, highly recommend Starvation Heights: A True Story of Murder and Malice in the Woods of the Pacific Northwest, by Gregg Olsen.


message 13: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (brandiec) | 117 comments I just reviewed a very interesting true crime book: Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America. Check it out here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show....


message 14: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8951 comments Mod
I'll definitely take a look after I read it. My copy should be arriving Monday.


message 15: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8951 comments Mod
Jan C wrote: "Nancy wrote: "Coming this weekend to HBO: The Jinx -- a true-crime documentary about Robert Durst, "a story that spans four decades, three murders, and one disturbingly wealthy man still freely wa..."

We really liked the first episode of this show. The guy is obviously nuts, and it hasn't gone too far so I don't understand why and how he got away with so many murders. But I will say that I think it's kind of foolish to let someone charged with murder out on bond . Hello, duh... If you have the money to make a million dollars bail, you have the wherewithal to escape.


message 16: by Michael (new)

Michael Rubin | 10 comments Here's a link to a Facebook page about a group in Stamford, Connecticut that is sponsoring a free event this Sunday, 2/22/15 - a multimedia presentation about the historical context of a new thriller, "The Cottoncrest Curse."

https://www.facebook.com/JewishHistor...


message 17: by Jon (new)

Jon Frum | 12 comments The Devil in the White City is very popular. It's a combination of both the story of the Chicago Exposition of 1893 and a series of murders by a guy who erected a hotel with built-in gas chambers, etc.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2...


message 18: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8951 comments Mod
Jon wrote: "The Devil in the White City is very popular. It's a combination of both the story of the Chicago Exposition of 1893 and a series of murders by a guy who erected a hotel with built-in gas chambers, ..."

It is a most excellent book. However, Holmes was NOT the first serial killer in the United States.


message 19: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8951 comments Mod
Deborah wrote: "I just reviewed a very interesting true crime book: Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America. Check it out here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...."

I finally finished Ghettoside last week -- I thought it was very well written, but I didn't agree with her conclusion.


message 20: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8951 comments Mod
I would like to recommend an incredible book of historical true crime called Death in the City of Light: The Serial Killer of Nazi-Occupied Paris, by David King. Oh my god -- this man was a monster.


message 21: by Patricia (last edited Mar 08, 2015 05:21PM) (new)

Patricia Bergman (marshop) | 92 comments Last year I read In Broad Daylight by Harry N. MacLean. It is about a man who terrorizes a town in Missouri for years and years. Hard to believe this is a true story.


message 22: by Feliks (last edited Mar 08, 2015 06:12PM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) Aha! I hadn't seen this thread before. I will certainly nominate a book of this type which I found thoroughly rewarding. Written by what is really a mainstream author, even really more of a travel or nature author. You all know Peter Matthiessen? He was involved with the shark-craze of the early 1970s; he wrote the nonfiction 'Blue Meridian' which perhaps started the whole thing off.

Anyway his career is filled with numerous interesting projects but somehow or other he came to bang out a novelistic re-telling of a true-crime-legend from the early 1910s from the Florida panhandle.

Killing Mister Watson

It is incredibly atmospheric and evocative of that part of the country and its people. The setting is powerfully detailed thanks to Matthiessen's background in naturalism.

A unique reading experience. I always like being led by-the-hand through an environment I am unlikely to ever travel to, myself.

p.s. Nancy wrote: "It is a most excellent book. However, Holmes was NOT the first serial killer in the United States. ..."
Ha! Good one Nancy


message 23: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8951 comments Mod
Feliks wrote: p.s. Nancy wrote: "It is a most excellent book. However, Holmes was NOT the first serial killer in the United States. ..."
Ha! Good one Nancy


Maybe Holmes was one of the first serial killers to be that organized in his craft, but I recently read a novel written in 1790s America that was based on a serial killer doing his thing earlier on.


message 24: by Feliks (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) Ah, I just liked that you had the immediate 'skinny' on the matter.


message 25: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8951 comments Mod
Well, considering I'd read the book just recently, it's still pretty fresh in my mind.


message 26: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8951 comments Mod
and then there's this story, which is to me unfathomable, re Kitty Genovese:

http://www.the-line-up.com/brutal-mur...


message 27: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8951 comments Mod
Patricia wrote: "Last year I read In Broad Daylight by Harry N. MacLean. It is about a man who terrorizes a town in Missouri for years and years. Hard to believe this is a true story."

I just looked this up -- this is a truly creepy guy. Ewww.


message 28: by Feliks (last edited Mar 10, 2015 07:49AM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) ah, every New Yorker knows the Genovese story. Or at least, they used to. I don't know what the dumbbells walking around our streets nowadays know vs what they don't know. History is not exactly their strong suit, Freecell and Solitaire are. If they remembered more stories like KG maybe they'd look up once in a while and think about their safety.


message 29: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8951 comments Mod
Feliks wrote: "ah, every New Yorker knows the Genovese story. Or at least, they used to."

Interesting, though, how it became the basis for 911.


message 30: by Feliks (last edited Mar 10, 2015 09:40AM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) Indeed.

Something else I found fascinating was how in that same timeperiod, the NYPD was re-organized. Previously (and you can see this in any classic Warner Bros crime movie) each precinct house had its own collection of 'squads'. Bunko Squad, Narcotics Squad, Vice, Burglary, Murder, Auto, etc. The detectives in these squads graduated up from being beat-patrolmen in those very neighborhoods which the precincts served. Therefore, they knew all the inhabitants intimately, they knew neighborhood history, neighborhood stories--they had networks of informers who trusted them, etc. 'Local knowledge'. They solved each type of crime right in the vicinity of all the other crimes in that same area.

But then at some point what seems to have happened (with the advent of huge, national-newspaper headlines) is that these squads were removed, aggregated together, and relocated in 'central clearinghouse' or 'command post' locations across the city. For example, there would be one precinct where all the Narcotics information was channeled to, so that detectives there could collate all such information from all over town. But they had no familiarity with the neighborhood in the immediate vicinity of wherever that HQ was. I suppose it helped when there were cases like 'Son of Sam' or other serial killers and crime sprees, but old-timers really resented it.

That's what I've heard/read, anyway.


message 31: by Jenn (new)

Jenn Nancy wrote: "Coming this weekend to HBO: The Jinx -- a true-crime documentary about Robert Durst, "a story that spans four decades, three murders, and one disturbingly wealthy man still freely walking the stre..."

I am a long-time fan of true crime, ever since reading Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders as a teen. I am watching The Jinx with interest, especially after seeing last week that he spent some time in a small town near where I grew up. I'd never heard of this story before.


message 32: by Robert (new)

Robert Kratky (bolorkay) | 28 comments Speaking of true crime,are there any "Jack The Ripper" devotees here? Is there one best book (or perhaps short story collections?) on this subject. I've seen quite a few on Amazon but it's very hard to judge which are worthwhile and which are tabloid-type nonsense?
Looking for a good place to start that will help pique my interest. (I seen a "Ripper" anthology edited by Peter Haining that seems interesting.)


message 33: by Jenn (new)

Jenn I read one by Patricia Cornwell, in which she claims to have a good idea about his true identity.


message 34: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8951 comments Mod
Bob wrote: "Speaking of true crime,are there any "Jack The Ripper" devotees here? Is there one best book (or perhaps short story collections?) on this subject. I've seen quite a few on Amazon but it's very h..."


message 35: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8951 comments Mod
Re Jack the Ripper, Are you looking for fiction or nonfiction?


message 36: by Robert (new)

Robert Kratky (bolorkay) | 28 comments I think I'd like to get a foundation in some of the more "reliable" non-fiction before I jump into some of the better Jack the Ripper fiction.


message 37: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8951 comments Mod
Bob wrote: "I think I'd like to get a foundation in some of the more "reliable" non-fiction before I jump into some of the better Jack the Ripper fiction."

Let me see if I can find anything & I'll post.


message 38: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8951 comments Mod
In my own library I have Philip Sugden's The Complete History of Jack the Ripper -- that might be a good place to start. I haven't read it, so I can't really comment on it.


message 39: by Jon (new)

Jon Frum | 12 comments Nancy wrote: "I would like to recommend an incredible book of historical true crime called Death in the City of Light: The Serial Killer of Nazi-Occupied Paris, by David King. Oh my god -- this m..."

I just saw that at my local library - I'll have to pick it up.


message 40: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8951 comments Mod
It's a shocker.


message 41: by Jon (new)

Jon Frum | 12 comments The Burning of Bridget Cleary is an amazing story, though not a great book. Bridget was an Irish woman whose father and husband killed her in an effort to 'get her back' from the fairies. Seriously.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1...

Paddy Whacked is the story of Irish-American gangsters through history. Not the story of a single crime or criminal, but a very good book.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9...

The Monster of Florence is about an Italian serial killer.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2...

For The Thrill Of It is about the famous Leopond, Loeb murder story.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2...


message 42: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8951 comments Mod
Paddy Whacked is an awesome book -- have you read The Westies: Inside New York's Irish Mob?

Loved The Monster of Florence.


message 43: by Jon (new)

Jon Frum | 12 comments I haven't read The Westies, but I did grow up in Boston and share a surname with Whitey Bulger.


message 44: by Jenn (last edited Mar 18, 2015 12:17PM) (new)

Jenn They are making a movie this year from Black Mass The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob by Dick Lehr , which is about Whitey Bulger. He will apparently be played by Johnny Depp.


message 45: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8951 comments Mod
Also an incredible book.


message 46: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8951 comments Mod
http://offtheshelf.com/2015/03/9-bril...

This just came in my email -- a post about books that will "change how you see true crime." I've read all but two,

Murder in Amsterdam: The Death of Theo van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance and Murder in Mississippi.

but the others I can definitely recommend to anyone.


message 47: by Jenn (new)

Jenn I have only read three, so I have some good ones to look for. Helter Skelter was the one that got me started on true crime.


message 48: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8951 comments Mod
Me too!


message 49: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 35954 comments I've read two of them - Capote and Bugliosi - and am still reading Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China.

I was going to say that I started with Helter Skelter but I actually started with In Cold Blood. I started reading it in the '60s but didn't finish it until the mid-'70s. About the same time I read Helter Skelter. When recovering from broken jaws there is not a lot to do but read.


message 50: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8951 comments Mod
Jan C wrote: "I've read two of them - Capote and Bugliosi - and am still reading Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China.

I was going to sa..."


I started reading Helter Skelter one night when my husband was traveling. Big mistake. I scared myself silly (lived in Simi Valley at the time) and couldn't sleep. I heard every noise in the house.


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