Natalie Recommends

I remember when I was just starting out on my books-are-my-life-blood destiny, the first one I actually “chose” to read was The Shining, but only when my Mom was nearby. I was terrified, fascinated, and hooked.  Although I had no idea what I was getting into, I was pleased that the main character was a kid and he had “the Shine.” It was an era of inquisitiveness into all things occult and otherworldly. Ever since then I’ve been obsessed with understanding the reasons why human beings behave the way they do. 

Nowadays I live and breathe true crime, and I’m not alone. There are massively popular TrueCrimeCon events in Las Vegas every year. With famous guests like author Paul Holes (ex-cop/podcast master) who, alongside Michelle McNamara (self-taught armchair detective/author), solved the Golden State Killer Case 30 years after the police were unable to. Not to mention true crime patron saints like Keith Morrison of Dateline and Bill Kurtis of American Justice.

Whatever the reasons, whether hoping to keep ourselves safe, trying to understand criminal behaviour, or a ghoulish interest in the macabre, true crime is one of the fastest growing genres right now in books, films, documentaries and podcasts.

I won't attempt to bring you to the Dark Side. True crime fans find each other organically as there is a component of “You might think I’m a freak” involved. Nonetheless, if you’re interested or tempted, here are some of our excellent examples of the genre.

Please, come and join me at the library and we’ll talk about true crime, quietly, amongst ourselves. Like we’re normal…..

Book jacket for Killer By DesignKiller By Design by Ann Wolbert Burgess

Ann was the first woman invited by Quantico (FBI HQ) to participate in the burgeoning Behavioural Analysis Unit. Her explanation is exactly what interests me; “Here is what happened to this person and this is what led them to eventually become a serial killer.”



Book jacket for How To Solve A Cold CaseHow To Solve A Cold Case by Michael Arntfield

Michael is an ex-cop turned university professor who works out of Western University. He is a proponent of true crime podcasts helping to solve cold cases still on lockdown by police depts who haven’t worked on them for years. There are some excellent podcasts out there and they introduce the topic to a huge new audience of listeners. He takes a hard look at how cold cases have been handled historically and what can be done to improve investigations now. I found him a bit patronizing in his opinion that since the overwhelming interest in true crime is from women, it must have a sexual component. Way too simple, we are considerably more complex. Good read nonetheless, I recommend it.


Book jacket for American PredatorAmerican Predator by Maureen Callahan

Speaking of Quantico, this guy raised the bar. Israel Keyes took the current FBI and all that it entails, by surprise. He was a new breed of serial killer, a cagey, clever, disciplined, methodical hunter who considered all of North America his playground. His police interview is a fascinating, excellent example of a predator who hunts human beings. It's well-written and researched, which is all I ask of a book.


Book jacket for I'll Be Gone In The DarkI’ll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara

Michelle was a tenacious, determined researcher of Joseph DeAngelo - The Golden State Killer. Although his crimes spanned over decades and his monikers changed depending on his latest location, she hunted him down incessantly and wrote about it. Unfortunately she passed away before she could finish her excellent book. It was finally completed (at the invitation of her husband Patton Oswalt) by none other than Paul Holes (see above).


Book jacket for In Cold BloodIn Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Arguably the beginning of the genre. Capote is, perhaps, the most famous author of early true crime. In an era when harsh reality and deprivation was generally denied in the media, Capote went for the throat. He researched his subject alongside his best friend Harper Lee and opened up the eyes of the American public when he befriended Perry Edward Smith, one of the killers in his book. A true classic.