Tuesday, June 15, 2010

True Crime

While I was in Chicago, I went to dinner on Saturday night with a lot of MWA (Mystery Writers of America) friends after Printer's Row wrapped for the day. All in all, I'd say there were about 15 of us at two tables, but there was one common theme with our conversations.

Serial killers.

We spent the better part of two hours talking about America's most notorious serial killers from John Wayne Gacy to the Son of Sam to Ted Bundy. And really, it was quite fascinating, but I wonder what any eavesdroppers must have been thinking!

Nothing quite grabs a mystery writer's attention like true crime. That being said, I rarely read books about true crime anymore. I used to--all the time. Anything I could get my hands on. But then...I had kids. And those stories started hitting too close to home. And I started playing the what-if game (what if this happened to me, etc). Yeah. I can't take that kind of stress. So I stopped reading the books, but I do still follow news clips about true crime. I get less freaked when I read about the evils of this world in small doses.

I'm fascinated right now with the Joran Van der Sloot case--the young man accused of killing a woman in Peru recently. He was also the lead suspect in the disappearance of American teenager Natalee Holloway in Aruba a couple of years ago. A known liar, he's now saying he'll make a deal. He'll tell where Natalie's body is in exchange for moving him to a different (nicer) prison.

Here's my rub. He lies. He's lied about where Natalee's body might be before, sending police on wild goose chases. BUT, wouldn't it be so nice for Natalee's parents to have some closure? To bring their daughter home. So I say, yeah, make the deal but only follow through if the body is found. It would be worth it, even though doing any kind of favor for that young man sets my teeth on edge.

Do you follow true crime? Steer clear?


  1. I'm like you true crime use to be the only type of mystery book I read. I said there was enough real crimes out there if I wanted to read about crime I didn't have to read about one that was made up. I guess over the years I got a little jaded and decided I wanted happy endings in all the books so I turned to cozy murder mysteries. I still read true crime occasionally. I also totally agree with making any deals with Vander Sloot - it's not right but her family needs to know. If her body is found then make a deal with him.

    Thoughts in Progress

  2. I've been thinking I need to read more true crime (research!), but for some reason I rarely do. I think Mason may have hit on the reason: a need for a satisfying ending. Rare in the real world.

    Van der Sloot creeps me out. I shall restrain myself from offering my ideas on what I'd like to see happen to him. But, yes, any deal at this point should come only AFTER Natalee's body is found. Give her mom that much, at least.

  3. At times I do read true crime but have gottne to the point that I only read books by Ann Rule. She works hard at not being any more graphic than necessary and there are limits as to what stories she will write about.

    I do prefer Cozies.

  4. I use to devour true crime stories but when I stopped when one incident hit a bit to close for home.

    I hope no deals are made until after her body has been found and identified. The Holloways need closure.

  5. I used to read true crime stories but then it just got to be a little too much. Lately, it seems like the evening news is a little too much to take.

    As for Van der Sloot, he is one sick and twisted puppy that in my opinion deserves everything he has coming to him and then some.

    I sincerely hope that he does tell the Holloways where Natalee's body is located so that family can get some peace.

  6. I think the satisfying ending drives me away, too. That and I've turned into a big wimp as I've aged. LOL!