By Tim Suddeth

Police car at road block

Police car

True crime is a genre of literature that, at first glance, doesn’t seem to belong in a blog about mystery and detective fiction. But its influence on the other fiction genres and its relationship can’t be ignored.

Mankind has always liked telling the gruesome and lurid details of crime. I can picture Og, sitting by the campfire telling his clan the story about a murder, he thinks it was possibly committed by a banshee, that he had heard from his father or uncles. A true crime story contains just the right mixture of information that we might need for protection, yet it appeals to our baser natures.

True crime includes nonfiction literature, film, and podcasts in which the author examines an actual crime and details the activities of real people. It can be a case that is still in the papers, or a cold case that seems to have been forgotten. Often, the story follows the case from the discovery through the investigation and the legal proceedings.

The most important characteristic is that it is true; it actually happened in the way it is depicted, in the people involved, dates, victims, and villains. There may be some dialogue added and some speculations that are admitted, but it is based on unbiased fact. But finding facts without bias is hard to do if not impossible.

Most true crime stories involve murder, even though it makes up less that 20% of all crimes. The idea of actually murdering someone is so hard to believe that we want to get an idea of what drove the person to kill. What were they thinking? And were there signs that we should be aware of? Continue reading