Newest True Crime Reviews

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Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews True Crime

Sometimes you begin reading a book and before you've got to the bottom of the first page you know that it's going to be brilliant. You sense the author's effortless grasp of her subject matter and you already know that her use of words is almost surgical in its precision. The hands holding you are safe, which considering that this is a book about two subjects where facts are in short supply, is somewhat surprising. Our first subject is the Reverend Willie Maxwell. Over seven years, six people close to the Reverend had died, with Maxwell benefiting substantially from insurance policies which he'd taken out on their lives. Full Review


The Murder of Harriet Monkton by Elizabeth Haynes

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Crime (Historical), True Crime

But that's just it, she said. It's not Harriet, is it? Not our Harriet. It's some manufactured creature, that exists only for this blessed inquest: something to be summed up like a spirit, to be examined and pored over, to be sneered at and judged. Harriet deserves to be remembered as she was to us, not picked at like carrion.

And that was the problem: it seemed that there were two Harriets. There was the one her friends - a fellow teacher, her would-be lover, her seducer and the man who was her landlord who was also her lover - knew. Some spoke of her as kindly, virtuous and pious, but that was before her body was found behind the chapel which she regularly attended in Bromley. She'd been poisoned - or had taken her own life. After the inquest was opened another Harriet would emerge, one who was about six months pregnant and who had obviously not been living the chaste life expected of a young, unmarried woman in 1843. Full Review

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Hello, Shadowlands by Patrick Winn

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews True Crime

Hello, Shadowlands chronicles a booming crime wave in South East Asia. It illuminates everything from the meth industry in Myanmar to the abortion pill black market in the Philippines using both Winn's personal accounts and historical context. It is devastating to imagine the very real human lives that are swept up in this cloud of refuse, and how the West helped create it and is doing nothing to prevent it. Full Review

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Vulgar Favours: The Assassination of Gianni Versace by Maureen Orth

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews True Crime

What is it about true crime which makes it so fascinating to such a wide audience? I guess it's wanting to try to figure out what happened to make these people partake in the awful crimes they committed, or else the same inexplicable impulse people have to slow down when they overtake a car crash on the motorway. Whatever it is, Maureen Orth's book, Vulgar Favours, taps right on into it. Full Review

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Killing for Company by Brian Masters

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews True Crime

Killing for Company is a detailed criminal study of Dennis Nilsen, unique in that it was produced with Nilsen's full cooperation and includes material from Nilsen's prison diaries. Covering Nilsen's early life, his career and subsequent murders, this is a detailed analysis of the man behind the murder and an attempt, on Masters' part, to understand what shaped Nilsen and what could have caused such apparently senseless violence. Full Review

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The Innocent Man by John Grisham

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews True Crime

Many readers may be drawn by the fact that the internationally bestselling John Grisham is the author here. I however, must admit that although I have enjoyed some of the films based on his books, I have never actually read any of them. This hasn't been due to deliberate avoidance, I just haven't gotten around to it. I was keen then to read this True Crime title and see what Grisham would bring to the table, so to speak. Full Review

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The Red Parts: Autobiography of a Trial by Maggie Nelson

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Autobiography, True Crime

Maggie Nelson is the author of four volumes of poetry and five wide-ranging works of nonfiction that delve into the nature of violence and sexuality. From what I'd heard about her writing, I knew to expect an important and unconventional thinker with a distinctive, lyrical style. Now Vintage is making some of her backlist, including this book (originally published in 2007) and the uncategorisable Bluets, available for the first time in the UK. Full Review

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The Adversary by Emmanuel Carrere and Linda Coverdale (translator)

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews True Crime

On 9th January 1993 Jean-Claude Romand orchestrated a horrifying chain of events which exposed a shocking double life, a history of lies and a breath-taking capacity for deceit. The Adversary dissects the choices and actions of Romand which led to the brutal murders of his wife, children and parents and the attempted murder of his mistress, the impact of his deception on those around him and his sensational trial. Carrère is as integral a part of this story as Romand, his coverage of the trial and correspondence with him whilst in prison form a significant part of the story as do his feelings and response to Romand's justification for his actions. Full Review

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Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews True Crime

Killers of the Flower Moon tells the story of the Osage tribe, forced to settle in the rocky, uninhabitable wilds of Oklahoma in what would become Osage County. In an unexpected turn of fortune, prospectors struck oil, instantly catapulting the Osage into unimaginable wealth and fortune making them some of the richest people in the world. Then members of the tribe start to die, slowly at first of apparently natural causes then in increasingly violent ways. Investigation into the matter stalls and is beset by incompetence and a general lack of interest in the fate of the Osage until the FBI becomes involved and draws together a team of battle scarred, unorthodox agents led by former Texas Ranger Tom White. As pressure on White increases, from both the FBI and the increasingly angry Osage, the race to find the truth becomes increasingly difficult, with more twists and double crosses than any murder mystery. Full Review

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The Black Hand by Stephan Talty

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews True Crime

History is a fascinating subject to study as there is so much of it, so why do we keep going back to the same places? I feel like I have walked the steps of Julius Caesar and married at least two of Henry VIII's wives, so often I have read about them. There are countless other tales out there to learn about that may be more obscure, but are just as exciting. I don't know much about New York around 1900, but after reading The Black Hand by Stephan Talty I now know it was a violent place to live, but an interesting one to learn about. Full Review

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The Doctor's Wife is Dead by Andrew Tierney

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews True Crime

In 1849 a woman named Ellen Langley died at her home in Nenagh, Co. Tipperary Ireland. She was the wife of a prosperous doctor and came from a well-respected family; so why was she buried in a pauper's coffin? Why had she been confined to the grim attic rooms of the house she shared with her husband and then exiled to rented lodgings in the most impoverished part of their famine-ravaged town? Why had her death caused such uproar and ultimately, why had her husband been charged with murder? Full Review

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A Very English Scandal: Sex, Lies and a Murder Plot at the Heart of the Establishment by John Preston

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews True Crime

Jeremy Thorpe was the sort of person who was generally liked by others. He was flamboyant and gregarious but could give the impression that meeting someone had made his day. He never seemed to forget a name and he was witty, charismatic and very charming. He appeared to be a decent man, with views with which I would have agreed on race, capital punishment and membership of the Common Market, as the European Union was then known. For this was the nineteen sixties and Thorpe had entered Parliament at the age of thirty and by 1967 he would be party leader. On the surface he was a man who had everything going for him. Full Review

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Mrs Holmes: Murder, Kidnap and the True Story of an Extraordinary Lady Detective by Brad Ricca

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews True Crime

Grace Humiston, an American lawyer and travelling detective in the early years of the twentieth century, was well ahead of her time. Long before women were readily accepted in the legal profession, she became the first female US District Attorney, taking on cases nobody else wanted, setting herself up as an advocate for the disadvantaged, charging minimal fees and working hard on what seemed to be utterly hopeless cases. With her flair for publicity she made good copy, and was always good for a story in the papers. Her nickname 'Mrs. Sherlock Holmes' was an apt one. Full Review

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The Scholl Case by Anja Reich-Osang and Imogen Taylor (translator)

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews True Crime

I think I'd like Ludwigsfelde. I wouldn't have liked it when it was an industrial village, with one or two huge mechanical plants and nothing else to its name. But now, even with the constant hum of the autobahn (one of Hitler's) keeping it company, it must have an appeal. It has been rebuilt, refashioned and remodelled since the end of East Germany, under the most prosperous and forward-looking mayor in the state, if not the country. He it was who put in a mostly-nude swimming spa. It has dispensers for doggy poo bags, so there's nothing as uncouth as taking your own. The mayor, bless him, even expanded the motorway to three lanes in each direction. It is within touch of Berlin, and in tune with so many business wants, yet is surrounded by woodland. Woodland where, between Christmas and New Year a few years back, the mayor's own wife and dog were found, both having been strangled… Full Review

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Capital Punishment: London's Places of Execution by Robert Bard

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews True Crime

The majority of books on true crime and murder focus first and foremost on specific incidents. This concise volume takes a different approach, in dealing with them according to where the executioner completed his task. Full Review

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A Good Month For Murder by Del Quentin Wilber

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews True Crime

I like to read crime fiction in part because it allows me to keep the dark world of murder and mayhem at arms-length, whilst still enjoying the vicarious thrills. After all, this is fiction and therefore a made up death. However, sometimes it is important to have a reality check and read a bit of non-fiction. The problem is with true crime as a genre is that it is sometimes written the same as fiction, although it is 'real’. Is there a place to sensationalise actual death for the entertainment of others? Full Review

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The A-Z of Victorian Crime by Neil R A Bell, Trevor N Bond, Kate Clarke and M W Oldridge

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews True Crime

Victorian crime has never ceased to cast its spell. Is it because such terrible goings-on took place sufficiently long ago that they do not disgust us in the same way as equally dreadful events from, say, the last few days of which we read from today's papers or online coverage? Whatever the reason, there is an endless fascination with murders and other major transgressions of the law from the era of gas lamps and swirling fog – true Victorian melodrama, misbehaviour and horror from real life writ large. It is amply catered for in this title, the joint work of four authors. Full Review

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Nemesis – The Hunt For Brazil's Most Wanted Criminal by Misha Glenny

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews True Crime

Many of us have had a 'Sliding Doors' moment. A single incident that grabs life by the shoulders and shoves it in a completely new and unexpected direction. Few can have travelled quite so far, quite so quickly as Antonio Francisco Bonfim Lopes, aka Nem. Full Review

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This House of Grief by Helen Garner

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews True Crime

This is an account of a harrowing event in Australia's recent history: the drowning of three young boys when the car being driven by their father, Robert Farquharson, veered off the road and fell into a dam. The father escaped unhurt. The tragedy was appropriated by the national media and led to a drawn-out prosecution of the father for murder. Full Review

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Inside Alcatraz: My Life on the Rock by Jim Quillen

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Autobiography,True Crime

It sounds like something from a Hollywood movie. A group of young prisoners make a daring escape from prison and go on the run, cleverly evading capture thanks to quick wits and creative thinking. After managing to cover some distance, the men began to feel smart, confident and quite comfortable, thinking that they had managed to outwit the police. A rude awakening with gun to the head one morning proved otherwise. The circumstances of their escape meant that their capture would lead to a long incarceration in one of the most notorious prisons in the world: Alcatraz. Inside Alcatraz is the story of one of those men, Jim Quillen, and his long road to redemption. Full Review

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Criminal Capital: How the Finance Industry Facilitates Crime by Stephen Platt

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Business and Finance, True Crime

It used to be estate agents we reviled the most, but they've now achieved relative respectability. MPs briefly took the top spot, but for many years now the list has been topped by bankers following the 2008 financial crisis, when huge taxpayer-funded financial bailouts were required to keep the world's financial system afloat. Most people will think that we've heard the worst of what has been going on, but Stephen Platt believes that excessive risk taking and mis-selling might well be just a minor part of what is still happening in the industry and that government attempts to counter the problems are misguided and unlikely to be effective. Full Review