True Crime

August 15, 2013 non-fiction 13

16129250Title: True Crime: Real-Life Stories of Abduction, Addiction, Obsession, Murder, Grave-robbing, and More
Editor: Lee Gutkind
Source: from publisher for review
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Review Summary: A generally insightful and well-written collection of true stories.

True Crime is a collection of true short stories, almost all of which are about a particular crime with one or two that are more philosophical thoughts on crime. Many of these stories are written by the people who lived them, although a few are instead written by journalists. As the slightly over-dramatic subtitle indicates, the content of these stories varies widely.

I requested this book because I like non-fiction and since I’m trying to read through the Dewey Decimal system, I was going to get to a true crime book eventually. When it came to actually reading it, however, I apprehensive that the stories would be too violent, too gruesome, and too melodramatic. I was pleasantly surprised on all counts. As a true crime story, of course some of the stories make you contemplate how human beings can do such horrible things to each other. It’s not going to be an entirely happy book. There were two stories I thought were too much (one about child murder and one about a historical lynching which included unnecessary detail), but the majority of these stories were moving without being over the top.

Although I’d like to review the stories individually, thirteen stories would make for far too long of a review, so I’ll settle for identifying some themes among the stories I liked and the ones I didn’t. The ones I didn’t like included material that I personally felt was too terrible (the child murder), too detailed (the lynching), or too bizarre (a weird musing on ears and their relationship to violence). But the majority of the stories were very thoughtfully and decently written. They were still tough reads, but many of them gave you fascinating insights into human behavior and an appreciation for how the worst circumstances can bring out the best in people.

At the end of the day, I don’t think true crime stories are my cup of tea. They involve too much unpleasant suspense as you wait for something terrible to happen and I finished reading these stories feeling a bit down. However, I thought this collection, for the most part, handled a tough subject very well.

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13 Responses to “True Crime”

  1. Gina, book dragon

    I don’t read a lot of true crime but several have stood out for me. After Etan by Lisa R. Cohen, The Gardner Heist by Ulrich Boser and The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett.

    • DoingDewey

      Oh, I liked The Man Who Loved Book Too Much too! I’ll have to check out some of the others book you liked as well 🙂

  2. Laurie C

    I don’t like reading true crime stories about murder, but have thought about reading the one about someone (a professor) getting stalked, Give Me Everything You Have.

    • DoingDewey

      I think I might be better able to read about less violent crimes too, although I’d be worried that reading about a stalked would make me nervous, haha.

  3. HC

    Not a fan of true crime books, but I can take psychological crime in tiny doses on T.V. every now and then. There was one disturbing show called Stalked, Someone’s Watching that gave me a few sleepless nights.

    • DoingDewey

      Oh, I bet! I’m less nervous reading or watching creepy stories now that I don’t live alone, but they can still freak me out enough that I usually avoid them.

  4. ravingreader

    Gutkind (the editor of this title) is considered by many to be the “father of narrative/creative non-fiction” and his actual writing is pretty good. However, maybe not his editing!! If you get a chance to see him present, he’s good…

  5. Alice

    I think these are the sort of stories you can be happy to read one of, but not so many in a row as it can become overwhelming or tiresome. I think, like you, this wouldn’t be my cup of tea either.

    • DoingDewey

      I think that’s a really good point. If I had read a collection of short stories and just one or two had been crime stories, I think it would have been less depressing.