True crime can be a tricky one, and many prefer a book that gives them the knowledge on the crimes and the case without simply being a salacious gossip rag. As my previous post mentioned I have become rather a fan of memoirs and books that fictionalise true crime, and as such I have collected together five of my favourites for you to check out in the wake of my participation in the blog tour for Eleanor Anstruther’s A Perfect Explanation, which I am currently half-way through and utterly adoring. The below five are all favourite reads of mine which I enjoy because they tow the line between showing me the case and its intricacies without giving in to speculation and malice.
5. In Cold Blood: Truman Capote’s investigation into the murders of four members of the Clutter family is a classic, and definitely worth checking out. Reconstructing the crime, Capote explores the seemingly motiveless crime. At the centre of his study are the amoral young killers Perry Smith and Dick Hickcock, who are vividly depicted as both deeply sinister and frighteningly human.
4. Alias Grace: Based on the real life murders of Thomas Kinnear and his housekeeper Nancy Montgomery in 1843, Margret Atwood’s book constructs a narrative around a fiction doctor who is supposedly researching criminal minds and visits one of the perpetrators, Grace Marks, in prison. He has her retell the events leading up to the killings in her own words, a tale which Atwood constructed from vast research into the horrific murders, which at the time shook the whole of Canada and were widely reported on.
3. The Woman Who Fed The Dogs: Based on the true story of Michelle Martin, who was accomplice to her then husband Marc Dutroux’s abductions and whose own neglect killed two young girls he was holding captive, Kristien Hemmerechts’ book gives her a voice and explores her motivations and feelings. With her young children in tow Michelle, renamed Odette in the book, is faced with impossible choices as she fights to keep her family together whilst her husband abducts, abuses and murders young girls. Michelle was vilified in the press for feeding her husband’s dogs and not his captives when he was imprisoned on unrelated charges, and Hemmerechts aims to offer a more human portrayal through her insightful and intriguing book.
2. The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson: The inspiration for the first season of American Crime Story is a riveting story told expertly by Jeffrey Toobin, who shares insight into the case that shook America. Running through the entire case, from the initial murders through to the now infamous trial, the book explores every aspect of the case and how Simpson and his team turned the case into a media circus to propel it towards the conclusion they wanted.
1. The Suspicions of Mr Whicher: Kate Summerscale’s historical book based on the true case of a young girl who killed her baby half-brother in a case that inspired many great novelists including Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is a brilliant portrayal of the case that shocked the public in 1860. Based in a country house, the book shares the story of a wealthy family and the secrets that come to light when the infant master of the house goes missing in the night.