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True Crime: Real-Life Stories of Abduction, Addiction, Obsession, Murder, Grave-robbing, and More

True Crime: Real-Life Stories of Abduction, Addiction, Obsession, Murder, Grave-robbing, and More - Lee Gutkind True Crime is a collection of true short stories, almost all of which are about a particular crime with one or two that are more philosophical thoughts on crime. Many of these stories are written by the people who lived them, although a few are instead written by journalists. As the slightly over-dramatic subtitle indicates, the content of these stories varies widely.

I requested this book because I like non-fiction and since I’m trying to read through the Dewey Decimal system, I was going to get to a true crime book eventually. When it came to actually reading it, however, I apprehensive that the stories would be too violent, too gruesome, and too melodramatic. I was pleasantly surprised on all counts. As a true crime story, of course some of the stories make you contemplate how human beings can do such horrible things to each other. It’s not going to be an entirely happy book. There were two stories I thought were too much (one about child murder and one about a historical lynching which included unnecessary detail), but the majority of these stories were moving without being over the top.

Although I’d like to review the stories individually, thirteen stories would make for far too long of a review, so I’ll settle for identifying some themes among the stories I liked and the ones I didn’t. The ones I didn’t like included material that I personally felt was too terrible (the child murder), too detailed (the lynching), or too bizarre (a weird musing on ears and their relationship to violence). But the majority of the stories were very thoughtfully and decently written. They were still tough reads, but many of them gave you fascinating insights into human behavior and an appreciation for how the worst circumstances can bring out the best in people.

At the end of the day, I don’t think true crime stories are my cup of tea. They involve too much unpleasant suspense as you wait for something terrible to happen and I finished reading these stories feeling a bit down. However, I thought this collection, for the most part, handled a tough subject very well.

This review first published on Doing Dewey.