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Delve Into True Crime: A Library Program and New Reads


Delve Into True Crime: A Library Program and New Reads

true crime

Whether it is in the form of books, TV shows, podcasts, documentaries or even conventions, true crime has been and continues to be a hugely popular genre.

If you are also a fan of true crime, here is an upcoming Library program that can help you gain some insight into the criminal mind.

Did you know you can learn about some behaviors of murderers like Jack the Ripper and Ted Kaczynski just by looking at their penmanship? Different characteristics in penmanship such as slant, size of letters, pressure, and more, may explain various personality traits. 

In the lecture entitled “Criminal Minds: Killer Handwriting” on May 20 at 7pm, handwriting expert Terry Antoniewicz  covers some of the most high-profile criminal cases using handwriting specimens of famed killers to show their behaviors with some stunning outcomes of the situations that may surprise history buffs.  Some of the cases discussed are Jack the Ripper, the American Jack the Ripper (was it the same person who crossed the pond?) Ted Kaczynski, Jeffrey Dahmer and Son of Sam. 

The audience will have the opportunity to see what psychological issues drove these individuals to commit some of the most heinous crimes and hear about the lingering mysteries that still exist.  

You can continue to engage in your fascination with this genre with a slew of new books available with your Livingston library card.

angel makers

The Angel Makers : Arsenic, a Midwife, and Modern History’s Most Astonishing Murder Ring by Patti McCracken

Tells the story of a 1920s midwife in rural Hungary who may have been the century’s most prolific killer, leading a murder ring of women responsible for the deaths of at least one hundred sixty men.

An Assassin in Utopia : The True Story of a Nineteenth-Century Sex Cult and a President’s Murder by Susan Wels

From 1848 to 1881, a small utopian colony in upstate New York, the Oneida Community, was known for its shocking sexual practices, from open marriage and free love to the sexual training of young boys by older women. And in 1881, a one-time member of the Oneida Community, Charles Julius Guiteau, assassinated President James Garfield in a brutal crime that shook America to its core. This is the first book to weave together these explosive stories in a tale of utopian experiments, political machinations, and murder.

Behold the Monster : Confronting America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer by Jillian Lauren

It all started when journalist Jillian Lauren asked LAPD Homicide Detective Mitzi Roberts about which case Roberts was most proud of closing. “Samuel Little,” Roberts answered. The now 79-year-old Little had murdered approximately 90 women over six decades and repeatedly got away with the murders due to lack of evidence (or jurisdiction); Roberts finally brought him to justice by tying him to the murders of three Los Angeles women. Surprised she had never heard of Little, Lauren started digging. She started exchanging letters with Little until she got a face-to-face meeting that led to hundreds of hours of interviews full of information Little had never shared with law enforcement. Lauren knew this journey to the truth was taking its toll on her, but she couldn’t stop-Little was giving her a powerful and harrowing window into the psyche of a serial killer. To balance out his darkness, Lauren decided to illuminate the lives of the women he killed. In her interviews, he confessed to 12 additional murders, supplying details that Lauren could share with families in need of closure. Harrowing, insightful, and extraordinarily adept at giving Little’s victims a chance to have their stories heard for the first time, this is a true crime book as unforgettable as it is terrifying.

Blood On Their Hands : Murder, Corruption, and the Fall of the Murdaugh Dynasty by Mandy Matney

Years before the name Alex Murdaugh was splashed across every major media outlet in America, local South Carolina journalist Mandy Matney had an instinct that something wasn’t right in the Lowcountry. The powerful Murdaugh dynasty had dominated rural South Carolina for generations. No one dared to cross them. When Mandy and her reporting partner Liz Farrell looked closer at a fatal boat crash involving the storied family’s teenage son Paul, they began to uncover a web of mysteries surrounding the deaths of the Murdaughs’ long-time housekeeper and a young man found slain years earlier on a backcountry road. Just as their investigations were unfolding, the brutal double murder of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh rocketed Alex Murdaugh onto the international stage.

The Con Queen of Hollywood : The Hunt for an Evil Genius by Scott C. Johnson

Blending years of deep reporting with distinctive, powerful prose, Scott C. Johnson’s unique true crime narrative recounts the tale of the brilliantly cunning imposter who carved a path of financial and emotional destruction across the world. Gifted with a diabolical flair for impersonation, manipulation, and deception, the Con Queen used their skill with accents and deft psychological insight to sweep through the entertainment industry. Johnson traces the origins of this mastermind and follows the years-long investigation of a singularly determined private detective who helped deliver them to the FBI.

Crimes of the Centuries : The Cases that Changed Us by Amber Hunt

A fascinating pop-history dive into the stories behind the incredibly impactful crimes–both infamous and little-known–that have shaped the legal system as we know it. Crimes and trials have captured American consciousness since the Salem Witch Trials in the seventeenth century. And these cases over the centuries have fundamentally changed our society and shifted our legal system, resulting in the laws we have today and setting the stage for new rights and protections. From the first recorded murder trial led by the first legal dream team, to one of the earliest uses of DNA, these cases will fascinate.

death in malta

A Death in Malta : An Assassination and a Family’s Quest for Justice by Paul Caruana Galizia

Journalist Galizia details his mother Daphne’s life and legacy in the shadow of the beautiful yet deeply corrupt island-state of Malta. Off the coast of Italy, the small archipelago of Malta provided a picturesque childhood for the three Galizia boys. But for their mother, an investigative journalist, it was rife with questionable business practices and government misconduct that fueled her work. Daphne started her own blog so that she could write freely and soon amassed a following larger than most of the mainstream newspapers. It wasn’t long before the family was subjected to multiple fear tactics—their dog’s throat slit, a fire set outside their home, death threats—all culminating in October of 2017, when a car bomb exploded, instantly killing Daphne. Low-level gangsters were arrested in short order, but the author, his brothers, and their father continue pushing for justice, as it is certain that bigger names are behind the hit. Galizia combines memoir, true crime, and history as he details Malta’s complicated past for a riveting and unnerving story that remains fully unresolved.

Evidence of Things Seen : True Crime in an Era of Reckoning

True crime, as an entertainment genre, has always prioritized clear narrative arcs: victims wronged, police detectives in pursuit, suspects apprehended, justice delivered. But what stories have been ignored? Here, fourteen of the most innovative crime writers working today cast a light on the cases that give crucial insight into our society. This anthology pulls back the curtain on how crime itself is a by-product of America’s systemic harms and inequalities. And in doing so, it reveals how the genre of true crime can be a catalyst for social change. These works combine brilliant storytelling with incisive cultural examinations–and challenge each of us to ask what justice should look like.

I Am a Killer : What Makes a Murderer : Their Shocking Stories in Their Own Words by Danny Tipping

What goes through the mind of a killer when they commit murder? Based on the massively successful Netflix documentary series of the same name, this book features ten of the most compelling cases from the series and is full of exclusive never-seen-before material. In each of the cases the inmate speaks openly about themselves and reflects on their life and their crimes. To gain a complete picture of the impact of the murders, the authors spoke to the families of both the perpetrators and the victims, and those in law enforcement who were involved in the case, leaving it up to the reader to make up their own mind about the killers and their crimes. This book paints an intimate and often disturbing portrait of these criminals, drawing on handwritten letters from the inmates, full transcripts of the interviews, personal pictures, crime scene images, and original police and court documents, this is a fascinating and detailed look at some of America’s most gripping murder cases.

The King of Diamonds : The Search For the Elusive Texas Jewel Thief by Rena Pederson

As a string of high profile jewel thefts went unsolved during the Swinging Sixties, the press dubbed the elusive thief “the King of Diamonds” because he eluded police and the FBI for more than a decade.

A Murder in Hollywood : The Untold Story of Tinseltown’s Most Shocking Crime by Casey Sherman

Hollywood starlet Lana Turner was one of Tinseltown’s most recognizable faces in the 1940s and 50s. But, when the Academy Award-winning actress began dating mobster Johnny Stompanato-a thug for west coast mob boss Mickey Cohen-all the lights and glamor of Hollywood did not brighten the darkness of her personal life. Johnny’s intense jealousy over Lana ruled their relationship from the get-go and Lana’s daughter, Cheryl, witnessed her mother’s bruises and abuse first-hand. On an infamous night in 1958, Lana attempted to break it off with Johnny but he predictably turned violent and Cheryl tried to protect her mother with a knife, killing him. The subsequent murder trial made for the biggest headlines of the year, its drama eclipsing every Hollywood movie. Sherman pulls back Tinseltown’s velvet curtain to reveal a dark underbelly of celebrity, rife with toxic masculinity and casual violence against women. But in this case, Lana Turner and her daughter finally stood up, which makes for one of the 20th century’s most notorious true crime stories.

Rabbit Heart: A Mother’s Murder, a Daughter’s Story by Kristine S. Ervin

Kristine S. Ervin was just eight years old when her mother, Kathy Sue Engle, was abducted from an Oklahoma mall parking lot and violently murdered in an oil field. First, there was grief. Then the desire to know: what happened to her, what she felt in her last terrible moments, and all she was before these acts of violence defined her life. In her mother’s absence, Ervin tries to reconstruct a woman she can never fully grasp-from her own memory, from letters she uncovers, and the stories of other family members. As more information about her mother’s death comes to light, Ervin’s drive to know her mother only intensifies, winding its way into her own fraught adolescence. In the process of both, she reckons with contradictions of what a woman is allowed to be-a self beyond the roles of wife, mother, daughter, victim-what a “true” victim is supposed to look like, and, finally, how complicated and elusive justice can be.

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Some People Need Killing: A Memoir of Murder in My Country by Patricia Evangelista

Evangelista’s meticulously reported and deeply human chronicle of the Philippines’ drug war. For six years, Evangelista chronicled the killings carried out by police and vigilantes in the name of Duterte’s war on drugs—a war that has led to the slaughter of thousands—immersing herself in the world of killers and survivors and capturing the atmosphere of fear created when an elected president decides that some lives are worth less than others. The book takes its title from a vigilante whose words seemed to reflect the psychological accommodation that most of the country had made: “I’m really not a bad guy,” he said. “I’m not all bad. Some people need killing.” A profound act of witness and a tour de force of literary journalism, this book is also a brilliant dissection of the grammar of violence and an important investigation of the human impulses to dominate and resist.

A Thread of Violence : A Story of Truth, Invention, and Murder by Mark O’Connell

A gripping account of one of the most scandalous murder in modern Irish history, at once a propulsive work of true crime and an act of literary subversion. Malcolm MacArthur was a well-known Dublin socialite and heir. Suave and urbane, he passed his days mingling with artists and aristocrats, reading philosophy, living a life of the mind. But by 1982, his inheritance had dwindled to almost nothing, a desperate threat to his lifestyle. MacArthur hastily conceived a plan: He would commit bank robbery, of the kind that had become frightfully common in Dublin at the time. But his plan spun swiftly out of control, and he needlessly killed two innocent people. The ensuing manhunt, arrest, and conviction amounted to one of the most infamous political scandals in modern Irish history, contributing to the eventual collapse of a government. Wellcome and Rooney Prize-winning author Mark O’Connell spent countless hours in conversation with MacArthur-interviews that veered from confession to evasion. Through their tense exchanges and O’Connell’s independent reporting, a pair of narratives unspools: a riveting account of MacArthur’s crimes and a study of the hazy line between truth and invention. We come to see not only the enormity of the murders but the damage that’s inflicted when a life is rendered into story.

The Waltham Murders : One Woman’s Pursuit to Expose the Truth Behind a Murder and a National Tragedy by Susan Clare Zalkind

A crusade to find a killer becomes a gripping, intensely personal investigation into a shocking cold case and the radicalization of a terrorist.

We Were Once a Family : A Story of Love, Death, and Child Removal in America by Roxanna Asgarian

The shocking, deeply reported story of a murder-suicide that claimed the lives of six children-and a searing indictment of the American foster care system.

What the Dead Know : Learning About Life As a New York City Death Investigator by Barbara Butcher

Reflecting on twenty years of investigating more than 5,500 death scenes, an NYC death investigator, the second woman ever hired for this role, shares how, in dealing with death every day, she learned surprising lessons about life–and how some of those lessons saved her from becoming a statistic herself.

Zenith Man : Death, Love, and Redemption in a Georgia Courtroom by McCracken Poston, Jr.

Part true crime, part courtroom drama, this moving story of an unexpected friendship between two very different men recounts the case of Alvin Ridley, an autistic Zenith TV repair man accused of murdering the wife no one knew he had, and the lawyer who believed in–and proved–his innocence.

Archana Chiplunkar, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian

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