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Kevin M. Sullivan

It's true, one can get strange reactions when researching true crime, and especially cases involving murder. And sometimes, the murder can be decades ago ( The Valley Drive-In Murders, for example), and people will still be incensed that you've dared to write a story about the crime. I don't get it, but it's out there.

Another, more recent example, is my attempt to speak with one of the women who had helped Ted Bundy load his car with books during one of his attempts to abduct a coed. This particular girl escaped unharmed and later filed a police report about the incident. Well, I was able to reach the sister, and I was met with open hostility. When I explained how I just needed to ask her a couple of questions, as I already had the police report which contained the bulk of what I needed, she was still just as rude. When I followed it up with a second call the following week, her rudeness had not abated, and the conversation ended quickly.

Personally, I find it all rather strange.

Mardi Link

Its as if certain people believe they "own" a crime story because it happened in their town or to someone they knew. I have much empathy for the families of crime victims; I just think that some crimes become part of a collective history. Part of a culture, and need to be told and written about, and not hidden away. We write and read these stories because we're human and we're curious and we care about what happens to other people. I don't know of any other type of writer who has to justify what they do.

Kevin M. Sullivan

So true, Mardi, and it's a shame that people who write about these things are sometimes made to feel they are doing something wrong when simply asking a question about a particular event. If we were speaking to someone about a war they were involved in, we might be met with sadness on the part of the individual but certainly not hostility.

Concerning the above mentioned sister of an intended Bundy victim: Her attitude was totally without merit, and if she reads my book (which I doubt) she'll see how very little I needed to ask her sister. So there was no reason for her hostility. The fact of the matter is this: People have a right to know what happened when someone is murdered, and it has always been amazing to me how often much of the story remains hidden away, and known only, of course, to the detectives and prosecutors handling the case; and this can also be true of well-known murders we might consider already well covered in the press.

Sometimes it takes a writer digging diligently for the truth of what happened; someone who is willing to take the time to locate the right people and the right documents, and as I stated above, I find it strange that we sometimes encounter such opposition in our journey for the truth.


This is why we need a true crimers group. The true crime writer faces a special subset of issues that don't seem to affect other writers.

Karren Reish

Mardi, for those who like to read true crime in book groups, the MI Center for the Book has a reader's guide for Anatomy of a Murder at in the One Book Archive section under Robert Traver.

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