So I received a gigantic pile of brand-new true crime paperbacks for my birthday and cheerily dug in to what I thought would be weeks of good reading. Unfortunately, I got through all of them in less than a week. Almost every book was poorly done. And even that's being generous.
When I read a true crime book, I want to know three things: why, why, and why. Why did the victim make the choices s/he did? Why did the killer do what s/he did? Why did this person end up dead? Some details cast light on these questions. Alas, some authors can compose 300-page books packed with details that don't even come close to answering the fundamental query.
Most writers in the pile bored me to skimming with the wrong details. Who cares to know which brand of camera was used to take the autopsy photos? Apparently some authors think this is such an important point that they dwell on it.
Why is it necessary to write two hundred pages about the trial? That's not the story. Who cares where the judge went to law school? What time the trial began? The occupations of each juror? I really don't think any true crime fans want a long, drawn-out account of a trial. (And this is coming from a trial lawyer!)
But there was one book that did not disappoint. Suspenseful, insightful, considered, and aimed at answering the great why, the best book of the bunch, by far, was Deadly Secrets by M. William Phelps. I would call it a fatal love triangle, except I don't think that there was any love involved. The story of a manipulative psychopath, Fred Andros, and the women he destroyed is also a good cure for gullibility (not to mention the seven-year itch).
The next time my DH wants to surprise me with my favorite reading material, I think I'll nudge him with a list of authors - with this one at the top.