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Old 01-02-2013, 11:31 AM   #16
LucyLu
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Originally Posted by Prestidigitweeze View Post
I'd add Charmer to your list -- not only for Jack's rendering of people's voices, but for the evocation of how that decade and place (Mercer Island, which I found as banal in real life as in the book) felt to the various people involved.
Thank you for the suggestion!
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Old 01-02-2013, 11:53 AM   #17
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I have to admit that I do find books about modern true crime distasteful. They seem to me to be an attempt to profit from the suffering of others.
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Old 01-02-2013, 11:53 AM   #18
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Prestidigitweeze - how fortunate you were to have befriended him. I lament the poor writing in true crime books released in the past several years and can't help but miss his unique writing talent in this genre.
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Old 01-02-2013, 12:13 PM   #19
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I have to admit that I do find books about modern true crime distasteful. They seem to me to be an attempt to profit from the suffering of others.
The majority of modern true crime books give the victim's family/friends a chance to tell their side of the story. Authors such as Ann Rule and Kathryn Casey spend much time with relatives to get the back story, which goes a long way to explain the "why" of a crime. It's not really a matter of profiting from other's suffering, but more an attempt to have the reader understand what happened and perhaps prevent similar crimes.

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Old 01-02-2013, 12:22 PM   #20
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And don't forget Truman Capote's classic, In Cold Blood, about the murder of the Clutter family in Kansas.
There was a news item a few weeks ago that the bodies of the killers were being exhumed for possible DNA evidence to connect them to a similar murder in Florida.

http://news.yahoo.com/cold-blood-mur...182425075.html
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Old 01-02-2013, 02:02 PM   #21
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There was a news item a few weeks ago that the bodies of the killers were being exhumed for possible DNA evidence to connect them to a similar murder in Florida.

http://news.yahoo.com/cold-blood-mur...182425075.html
I saw that--it's really intriguing, isn't it? The bodies have now been exhumed: http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/12/19/...blood-killers/. I hope there is a definitive answer one way or the other.
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Old 01-04-2013, 01:11 PM   #22
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I heartily recommend The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi. It's about a series of unsolved murders in Italy in the 80's that are assumed to be by the same individual. The two authors investigate and uncover new information, experience a very unsettling coversation with someone that was never investigated by the police but who they think may have been the Monster. And Mario Spezi, the co-author, is actually arrested and accused of being the Monster!

This book is absolutely riveting and extremely creepy, and the story of all of the suspects that were accused at one point or another, police corruption and incompetence, and the whole sequence of events that occurred over the years is truly mindblowing.

Hope I didn't oversell it, but it is great true crime!
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Old 01-05-2013, 04:44 PM   #23
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I Have Lived in the Monster & Whoever Fights Monsters: My Twenty Years Tracking Serial Killers for the FBI both by Robert K. Ressler.
Spoiler:
He talks about his work. In the first he relates an interesting fact about Gacy. He and Gacy had lived near one another as kids and in fact Gacy had delivered groceries to Ressler's mother back then when he worked at a local grocery store.
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Old 01-09-2013, 03:37 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by crich70 View Post
I Have Lived in the Monster & Whoever Fights Monsters: My Twenty Years Tracking Serial Killers for the FBI both by Robert K. Ressler.
Spoiler:
He talks about his work. In the first he relates an interesting fact about Gacy. He and Gacy had lived near one another as kids and in fact Gacy had delivered groceries to Ressler's mother back then when he worked at a local grocery store.
An excellent recommendation.

For unintentional comedy, I've always liked Ressler's story about choosing to be alone with Ed Kemper and what Kemper took that opportunity to say and do. It was a mistake the author never made again when interviewing any other incarcerated murderer.
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Old 01-09-2013, 04:32 AM   #25
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I heartily recommend The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi. It's about a series of unsolved murders in Italy in the 80's that are assumed to be by the same individual. The two authors investigate and uncover new information, experience a very unsettling coversation with someone that was never investigated by the police but who they think may have been the Monster. And Mario Spezi, the co-author, is actually arrested and accused of being the Monster!

This book is absolutely riveting and extremely creepy, and the story of all of the suspects that were accused at one point or another, police corruption and incompetence, and the whole sequence of events that occurred over the years is truly mindblowing.

Hope I didn't oversell it, but it is great true crime!
Thanks. I just bought it on your recommendation, as it sounds interesting.

I recently fininshed In Cold Blood, which wasn't as good as I was hoping, given its "classic" status. I guess it's all been emulated since and so doesn't feel as fresh as it would have done in its time. Not that I regret reading it - still an absorbing account.
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Old 01-10-2013, 06:15 AM   #26
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I recently finished In Cold Blood, which wasn't as good as I was hoping, given its classic status. I guess it's all been emulated since and so doesn't feel as fresh as it would have done in its time. Not that I regret reading it - still an absorbing account.

Part of what's good about the Capote is the quality of the style and atmosphere, and the echoes of the author himself in the portrayal of one of the two killers (read that book and then peruse the bits of autobiography in Music for Chameleons). I wouldn't expect to find new insights about forensics or psychopathology in an account from 1996.

=====================================

I've always been fascinated by David Parker Ray -- partly because of the detailed mechanisms of his cruelty, partly because of the obscurity of his murders despite evidence taken from his $100,00 torture chamber that suggests he must have been a prolific killer (his suspected body count is around sixty), and partly because he managed to manipulate investigators to his advantage without revealing anything about his crimes or further victims. Even when accomplices tried to point authorities to burial sites, Ray had already moved the bodies to obscure locations.

I could never figure out why no one made a film about Ray in that golden period of our culture's obsession with super-psychopaths, the '90s. Ray's "Toybox" (as he called it) is the closest thing in real life to the baroque excess of the sets in David Fincher's Se7en. Ray's eclectic sadism -- his assortment of instruments wrought and bought, his multimedia-enhanced scenarios, his use of tape recorders to make victims aware of his voice -- at first -- as a mere representation of the horror to come, his forcing victims to watch projections of their own dehumanization while it was happening -- all of that makes Gary Wissner's Peter-Joel-Witkins-inspired art direction and Fincher's implausible storyline seem almost credible. The between-mirrors voyeurism also reminds me of Michael Powell's infinitely better film, Peeping Tom.

It's a pity that, of the only three books about Ray, Fielder's is print-only and pedestrian and Glatt's is written in a witheringly bad style. I've yet to look at the one by J. E. Sparks.

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Old 01-10-2013, 11:06 AM   #27
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An excellent recommendation.

For unintentional comedy, I've always liked Ressler's story about choosing to be alone with Ed Kemper and what Kemper took that opportunity to say and do. It was a mistake the author never made again when interviewing any other incarcerated murderer.
I think I remember something of that (it's been a while since I read the books). Shows like Criminal Minds have had scenes based on that though too I think. Art imitating life at it's most truthful I'd guess.
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Old 01-11-2013, 02:20 AM   #28
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Shows like Criminal Minds have had scenes based on that though too I think. Art imitating life at it's most truthful I'd guess.
Not to devalue your enjoyment of the medium, but every TV show I've seen has laid an insipid sheen over the true events, and used over-the-top music cues and dialogue -- tragedy's canned laughter -- to emphasize some insipid editorial gloss on morality. To be fair to you, I'll acknowledge that many true crime writers do that as well. But the best of them intend to be as true to the subject as possible, and that (ideally) includes sticking to actual recorded or recollected conversations.

I believe in doing away with glossiness and cues wherever possible and letting the audience formulate their own conclusions. I've always loved what Nelson Algren said in his Paris Review interview:

Quote:
If any writer can catch the routine lives of people just living in that kind of ring of fire to show how you can’t go out of a certain neighborhood if you’re addicted, or for other reasons, that you can’t be legitimate, but that within the limitation you can succeed in making a life that is routine . . . if somebody could write a book about the routine of these circumscribed people, just their everyday life, . . . just an absolutely prosaic life without any particular drama to it in their eyes—if you could just do that straight . . . well, you’d have an awfully good book.
Algren was talking about addicts, but I try to do this (albeit slightly ironically) with killers.

Quote:
I think I remember something of that (it's been a while since I read the books).
I particularly enjoy that exchange between Ressler and Kemper because it's instructive, and because Ed Kemper's characteristic thought processes amuse me.

Three people in my family are practicing psychologists. The one I'm closest to has the job you see in true crime shows: He's the person who does evaluations of violent criminals. His field is stippled with investigators, nurses and therapists who underestimate the danger of individuals like Kemper and some of them make disastrous mistakes -- not only for themselves, but for others who are then endangered.

Last edited by Prestidigitweeze; 01-11-2013 at 02:35 AM.
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