Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Madi Loves Crime! The True Crime Blog

From Madi: I have never been shy to talk about my love of true crime. Books, documentaries, podcasts, anything dissecting and exploring the subject will have my attention. So even though an entire bookshelf of my very small apartment is full of different true crime books, I keep buying and reading more. But I noticed something about my collection: almost all of the books are black and red. Yes, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is black and yellow, and The Stranger Beside Me is more of a musty blue, but it is still overwhelmingly red and black. So I took a look in my macabre assortment and picked out some of the best reads that also happen to color coordinate.

Zodiac by Robert Graysmith was one of the first true crime books I ever read. I listened to it on audio book during a cross country drive - you know, to relax. It was so enthralling and so terrifying that it cemented true crime as my new favorite genre. I actually don’t own my own copy, as I didn’t want a short and squat bright yellow mass market. But recently, I was going through our true crime section when I found a new edition that - surprise! - is a red and black paperback. It still includes pictures of the ciphers and notes sent to San Francisco newspapers, just now in a more appealing red and black form. Of course, the stylish cover is just an added plus - the book itself is definitely one of my favorite true crime books ever written.

If you’re looking for more of a true crime anthology, I suggest yet another black and red book: Unsolved Murders by Amber Hunt and Emily G. Thompson. This book includes some famous examples like the Zodiac Killer and the Black Dahlia, it also includes some lesser known murders that are still shrouded in mystery. I have been knee deep in my crime obsession for about four years now, and this book still introduced me to cases with which I was unfamiliar. It includes twenty-one unsolved cases in total, and it is the perfect spooky sampler.

Perhaps the best-known true crime book is the original black and red tome: Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi. I tried reading this for the first time as a freshman in college, but was so scared by the crime scene photos (which are edited to be less gruesome, I might add) that I just returned it to the library so I would stop having nightmares. A few years later, I picked up another copy and couldn’t stop reading. Though it is admittedly one sided since Bugliosi was Manson’s prosecutor, it is regarded as the truth behind the Manson cult and the infamous murders they committed in August of 1969. The little details about how the case gradually broke open still give me chills. If you are a true crime fan, this is essential reading.

There is a new book about the Manson family that just came out in paperback, and though I am admittedly only halfway through it, this bright red book has already earned a prominent place on my shelf. Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties by Tom O’Neill aims to find what Bugliosi missed or perhaps even omitted. I know it seems like everything that can be written about the Manson murders has been, but this book offers different angles I have yet to read about (and I spent a semester in college learning about the cult). This book solves the single perspective problem of Helter Skelter by exploring who might not have been so forthcoming during the initial investigation. It is a truly fresh take on something that happened over fifty years ago.

As strange as it might sound to categorize something true crime as a coffee table book, that’s kind of what He Had It Coming by Kori Rumore and Marianne Mather is like. It’s not full of gore like Helter Skelter (unless you are disgusted by bedazzled leotards), but it does include things like newspaper clippings and police files to get a firsthand understanding of the women who inspired the musical Chicago. It also includes how these murderesses and their crimes became a Tony winning Broadway show and an Oscar winning film, so if you enjoy murder and show tunes, you are in luck. It’s definitely the tamest of the books on this list, but still black and red and worth reading.

I know that there are so many different true crime books out there in so many different colors, but who says creepy can’t be chic? If you’re the kind of person that likes a shelf to double as d├ęcor, this is definitely a great collection that can be used as a style piece. Whether you want a classic or a new take on true crime, one thing is for sure: there’s a good chance your book will match a color theme.

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