Think True Crime is not for you? It doesn’t have the best reputation for high quality work but please take another look. There are some great reads out there under this genre and we have 5 recommendations to get you started.
- In Cold Blood by Truman Capote – A true crime classic written in the 1960s. Capote recounts the tale of the killing of four members of one family in a US farming community in 1959. Highly regarded for it’s detail and quality of the writing it has also faced criticism for being closer to a novel based on fact that a strictly faithful account of events.
- The Cult of Violence by John Pearson – We move closer to home with John Pearson’s 2001 examination of the Kray twins and their South London crime spree. The author met the twins in prison and interviewed them extensively so has real insight into their lives and crimes. Because of his depth of knowledge gained directly from those involved this is arguably the definitive account of this famous crime duo.
- The Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale – Kate Summerscale goes all the way back to the 1860s in this absorbing story. A nice twist putting at the center of her account, Mr Whicher, the Victorian policeman investigating the crime. Mr Whicher is called to a respectable middle class home where a child has been murdered apparently by an unknown assailant entering through an unfastened window, but Mr Whicher becomes convinced a member of the family is the murderer. As well as offering the intriguing case the book is full of the tensions involved with a working class policeman daring to cast suspicion on a middle class family whom society regarded as his betters.
- Trials of Passion by Lisa Appignanesi – Rather than focusing on a single crime or criminal Lisa Appignanesi gives us a smorgasbord of turn of the 20th century crimes committed by women. One thing the crimes have in common is that they have love or passion as the root motive (some though take strange paths away from the initial cause such as the Brighton woman who poisons innocent people indiscriminately with chocolate creams in order to camouflage her one targeted poisoning!) Especially good in this book is the examination of how psychiatry began to play a part in crime detection and trials as doctors were called in to try to explain why the gentle sex would cause such destruction.
- Sexy Beasts by Wensley Carkson – In case all this murder is a bit much for you we’ve thrown in a book with the focus on robbery instead. Sexy Beasts tells the story of the 2015 Hatton Garden diamond robbery. Committed by a group of ageing criminals who intended to commit one last crime to set themselves up for a retirement in luxury…but things don’t quite go to plan!
So if you love history or crime novels or thrillers or whodunits then true crime might be worth a look next time you visit your library.