s&d: True Crime! books

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Mikhail Gilmore's Shot Through The Heart & Jon Krakauer's Under The Banner of Heaven = Mormon deathcult awesomeness

Brio, Friday, 12 February 2010 16:10 (ten years ago) link

also those Best American Crime Reporting annual collections! any read the latest?

Brio, Friday, 12 February 2010 16:12 (ten years ago) link

these and big fat sleazy rock star bios are like mac & cheese to me

Brio, Friday, 12 February 2010 16:15 (ten years ago) link

seriously, nobody else?

Brio, Friday, 12 February 2010 16:37 (ten years ago) link

Not sure if it'll be what you're looking for, but As If by Blake Morrison is really excellent. It's not so much about the crime itself (the James Bulger murder in Liverpool in 1991) as about the aftermath, the societal circumstances leading to it, and the darker recesses of the author's own psyche.

Ismael Klata, Friday, 12 February 2010 17:07 (ten years ago) link

Jerry Bledsoe's Bitter Blood is deeply underrated. Went on about it a couple of years back via my blog here, as well as talking about my own interest in true crime stories.

Ned Raggett, Friday, 12 February 2010 17:09 (ten years ago) link

this book is NOT well written but the story is amazing

figgy pudding (La Lechera), Friday, 12 February 2010 20:49 (ten years ago) link

Perfect Victim, the story of Colleen Stan, is one of the absolutely weirdest stories I've ever read.

Also, Ann Rule's The Stranger Beside Me is a must read.

El Poopo Loco (Pancakes Hackman), Friday, 12 February 2010 20:56 (ten years ago) link

I can't remember the exact title, but J. Curtis' book about the murder of Maria Marten is so so so good. The part at the end where you can read letters from girls responding to William Corder's person ad are priceless.

The Mysterious Murder of Maria Marten, maybe?

figgy pudding (La Lechera), Friday, 12 February 2010 20:58 (ten years ago) link

Also Charles Bowden's Down by the River is greeeeeeat

figgy pudding (La Lechera), Friday, 12 February 2010 20:59 (ten years ago) link

person --> personals

figgy pudding (La Lechera), Friday, 12 February 2010 20:59 (ten years ago) link

I'm a sucker for true crime!

it takes a lot to find stuff that doesn't get too...um, 'porny' is the word I'd use. Some of those mass-market pbs are gross, you're halfway through and you're still up to your eyeballs in long descriptions of the mind of the killer and fantasy sequences and 'putting you in the crime scene'... Ick. And it's not so much that I'm squeamish, I just don't want to read a 'how to guide'.

Will definitely rep for Shot Through The Heart - great book.

Severed by John Gilmore -- good non-trashy analysis of Black Dahlia murder, raises some new information that's pretty interesting. Gets a little Robert Graysmith towards the end but otherwise a good revision of a story that seemed like it was overdone. Could have done without the photos though: YEESH.

A Mind For Murder - The Education of the Unabomber & the Birth of Modern Terrorism by Alston Chase -- good background on Harvard experiments, also some interesting detail about his family & his brother.

I'll stan for Zodiac by Robert Graysmith because it's a good first-time read. But Graysmith is kind of a loop-the-loop about the whole thing which makes it more of an account of his obsession than meaty Zodiac analysis.

Mindhunter - John Douglas. His books get a little samey, and he's got ego for days, but his books at least don't have the leering/tabloid/porny feel. The information's often at least useful/interesting, and he does often circle back to talking about victim/the victim's family. He's got a bit of authority to his voice which is at least a little comforting. And you know, he's the real life "special agent Jack Crawford".

OTM re: Stranger Beside Me. I'll rep for some of the older Ann Rule stuff (she's still churning them out but I haven't read her stuff in years)- I feel like Small Sacrifices, STranger, and the Green River Killer book are her best, and the personal aspect of Stranger makes it really intriguing.

Oh and James Ellroy - My Dark Places? That's a good'un.

(Sorry for overdoing it...like I said, I'm a total TC nerd.

VegemiteGrrrl, Friday, 12 February 2010 21:00 (ten years ago) link

Oh, and Dave Cullen's Columbine, which is really much, much more than a true crime book, but is absolutely riveting. And terrifying.

El Poopo Loco (Pancakes Hackman), Friday, 12 February 2010 21:05 (ten years ago) link

Not exactly true crime genre, but Homicide: a Year on the Killing Streets is an excellent read. Lots of source material for the
Tv shows Homicide and the Wire.

Super Cub, Saturday, 13 February 2010 19:28 (ten years ago) link

I try to read as much Manson stuff as possible.

Right now I have a stack of these "from the pages of True Detective" books.


They are slee-zee. Some gross stuff.

Last year I read Cruel Sacrifice about this case, that was the last one that I read that was really good.

Until recently there was a bookstore within walking distance of me that had an entire wall of true crime books, I agree that some of them are boring as hell.

Also AWESOME and a must have is this:


kudos, i'm yours! (u s steel), Saturday, 13 February 2010 23:35 (ten years ago) link

a bit dry but extremely well researched: anything by david a. yallop

just1n3, Saturday, 13 February 2010 23:51 (ten years ago) link

Justine, thanks for the reminder about Yallop! I loved his pope conspiracy book (I love conspiracy books & I don't agree with any of them!). After I read that I wanted to read more, but didn't finish.

kudos, i'm yours! (u s steel), Sunday, 14 February 2010 00:01 (ten years ago) link

haha me too!! i love conspiracy theory stuff, even when i'm buying it at all!

the pope one was the first i read too - have you read the one about arthur allan thomas, the new zealand guy falsely imprisoned for murder?

just1n3, Sunday, 14 February 2010 00:08 (ten years ago) link

Not yet. I should read more about non-USA murders but I don't, the only one I LUV is Jack the Ripper, any and all, and a lot of them are bullshit, I think. Good bullshit, but probably bullshit.

kudos, i'm yours! (u s steel), Sunday, 14 February 2010 00:11 (ten years ago) link

I'm telling you -- the murder of Maria Marten is full of juicy parts, including, but not limited to, testimony from a murder trial bound in the SKIN OF THE MURDERER.


figgy pudding (La Lechera), Sunday, 14 February 2010 00:13 (ten years ago) link

*not buying it

just1n3, Sunday, 14 February 2010 00:21 (ten years ago) link

i believe it, but even if it's not true it makes a good story, and that's why we like this shit, no?

figgy pudding (La Lechera), Sunday, 14 February 2010 00:34 (ten years ago) link

no, i was xposting myself - i meant to say that i often don't buy the conspiracy stuff, but that doesn't lessen my enjoyment of it! the thing i like about yallop's stuff is that it avoids being trashy or hysterical; i think his style would make a believer out of anyone.

just1n3, Sunday, 14 February 2010 01:11 (ten years ago) link

That's true, David Yallop had me peeing my pants about the Pope and his heart attack. Then I went through this Vatican Bank phase.

kudos, i'm yours! (u s steel), Sunday, 14 February 2010 03:55 (ten years ago) link

FYI, Laura James' blog has been a gold mine of true crime book recommendations. (and her book is terrific too)

Elvis Telecom, Sunday, 14 February 2010 07:30 (ten years ago) link

Not true crime specifically, but I watched a bit of <a href="http://www.trutv.com/shows/conspiracy_theory/episodes/index.html";> Jesse Ventura's</a> tv show today and it looked pretty good.

kudos, i'm yours! (u s steel), Monday, 15 February 2010 02:37 (ten years ago) link


Oops, sorry about link.

kudos, i'm yours! (u s steel), Monday, 15 February 2010 02:37 (ten years ago) link

I haven't read that account of Andrew Cunnanan, but I really loved "Three Month Fever," Gary Indiana's novelization of the guy's life.

Also, Emmanuel Carrere's "The Adversary" is a true crime favorite.

Romeo Jones, Monday, 15 February 2010 17:29 (ten years ago) link

As mentioned above, "The Stranger Beside Me" is 100% essential. Almost too scary and ominous.

Now, Monday, 15 February 2010 18:52 (ten years ago) link

This piece on a new collection of work by New Yorker crime writer St. James McKelway prompted me to check out an older anthology of his from UCI, collecting a fair number of pieces talked about as being in this new one.

Ned Raggett, Monday, 15 February 2010 19:15 (ten years ago) link

two years pass...

Gordon Burn's two true crime books, Somebody's Husband, Somebody's Son, about the Yorkshire Ripper, and Happy Like Murderers, about Fred and Rose West, are v good, intensely miserable. The one on the Wests really knocked me into a pit when it came out. But a bit literary maybe?

woof, Tuesday, 23 October 2012 18:45 (eight years ago) link

(not 100% what I mean by 'a bit literary'. have to go out anyway)

woof, Tuesday, 23 October 2012 18:45 (eight years ago) link

No I know what you mean. Some are told in a very tabloid way, and some are written in a way that's more about the story somehow.

set the controls for the heart of the sun (VegemiteGrrl), Tuesday, 23 October 2012 18:46 (eight years ago) link

The Wrong Man by James Neff, about the Dr Sam Sheppard Murder case is another one I'd consider very literary in style. and god talk about gripping.

set the controls for the heart of the sun (VegemiteGrrl), Tuesday, 23 October 2012 18:48 (eight years ago) link

I think - I dgaf about 'serious' writers pondering what nasty crime means for society. But then Burn doesn't do that much iirc, is better than that - concrete, precise, observational. But anyway, going out!

woof, Tuesday, 23 October 2012 18:48 (eight years ago) link

intensely miserable

you are SPEAKING MY LANGUAGE! will add to wishlist.

these albatrosses have no fear of man (La Lechera), Tuesday, 23 October 2012 18:59 (eight years ago) link

Slightly OT, but true crime fans may enjoy this little tale:


o. nate, Tuesday, 23 October 2012 19:22 (eight years ago) link

Almost done with the Ressler book (Whoever Fights Monsters)- it's pretty good!

Interestingly enough, even though Ressler and John Douglas worked together in the FBI, Douglas barely rates mention, which I find funny. I guess they're in some kind of ego smackdown these days, lol.

Douglas' Mindhunter covers similar ground to Ressler, since they both interviewed a lot of the same criminals, but the styles are different enough that you could read both and come away with something from each. Douglas is much more narrative-focused, tries to bring you into the stories he tells and definitely has a much more intense focus on the victims and their families. Much more dramatic, and he has a lot of interesting detail about his own life and involvement in the cases.

Ressler's more analytical, he's not as interested in putting you there as he is in giving you facts and data, still very much a case-study kind of guy, you feel like you're more part of a lecture series or a class than fireside chats.

Kinda feel myself going down the rabbit hole again - will have to dig up a few more books to get the curiosity sated again. It seems like once or twice a year I go on a tear. Except I find it starts to mess with my head irl, like I start looking for windowless vans and get obsessed with local missing children reports... :/

set the controls for the heart of the sun (VegemiteGrrl), Friday, 2 November 2012 19:57 (seven years ago) link

One of those two wrote a book called "The Cases that Haunt Us" in which he discusses the Lindbergh kidnapping, Jack the Ripper, JonBenet Ramsey and other famous cases. I think it was Douglas, but in either case it's a really good book.

C-3PO Sharkey (Phil D.), Friday, 2 November 2012 20:06 (seven years ago) link

yeah it was Douglas. It's a good one, you're right.

set the controls for the heart of the sun (VegemiteGrrl), Friday, 2 November 2012 20:07 (seven years ago) link

I got to meet Douglas last year at a speaking event - he's a very nice man! He signed a couple of my books for me. I found his books were more productive (?) than others because he was always at great pains, much as Ressler is too, that the killers don't get too much credit or are not made out to be more than they are. They're always very quick to remind you of their failings as humns vs their successes as killers.

set the controls for the heart of the sun (VegemiteGrrl), Friday, 2 November 2012 20:10 (seven years ago) link

Picked up 'Road Out Of Hell' by Anthony Flacco from the library, about the 1920's Wineville Murders. Hoooolllly fuck. I'm only a few chapters in and it's already more harrowing than anything I've read in a long time. Scary shit.

and I also got Lisa Cohen's 'After Etan'

set the controls for the heart of the sun (VegemiteGrrl), Monday, 5 November 2012 05:04 (seven years ago) link

Not a book but True Crimers should check out the mini-series The Staircase. It's about a murder in Raleigh, NC and it is 100% amazing.

carl agatha, Monday, 5 November 2012 13:16 (seven years ago) link

oh yeah that is incred

johnny crunch, Monday, 5 November 2012 13:23 (seven years ago) link

And if you do decide to watch it, which you should, avoid reading anything about the documentary or the case before hand. It is so much better if you go in cold.

carl agatha, Monday, 5 November 2012 14:22 (seven years ago) link

Happy Like Murderers, about Fred and Rose West

think the prob I had w/ this book - which is esp good on the way that fred and rose's home became a manifestation of their banal evil - is that the high quality of the writing turns the whole thing into an aesthetic experience, somehow - that burn had given his subjects a better book than they deserved, maybe?

Ward Fowler, Monday, 5 November 2012 14:31 (seven years ago) link

Any recs for definitive books on the Night Stalker or Hillside Strangler cases? Those are two I've always wanted to read more about. (Is Ramirez unique among serial killers in being apprehended by people on the street?)

C-3PO Sharkey (Phil D.), Monday, 5 November 2012 14:32 (seven years ago) link

thanks for the rec, carl -- I'm def gonna look up the Corridor!

no shit, that Wineville book gave me bad dreams last night, I've never had that happen before. Think this is a 'read in the daytime only' book.

It's not that the details are any worse than anything I've read, I think it's just that this acccount is written really WELL, and written as a firsthand account of events as they are unfolding by the nephew who was on the ranch & endured almost as much as the victims themselves. Being part of his thought process, and feeling like you're witinessing everything right along with him...it's a lot to handle.

set the controls for the heart of the sun (VegemiteGrrl), Monday, 5 November 2012 17:29 (seven years ago) link

Wait, the Wineville murders were the ones that figured in that Angelina Jolie movie, right?

C-3PO Sharkey (Phil D.), Monday, 5 November 2012 17:34 (seven years ago) link

Yeah I’d really like to know if there are particular legal reasons for that. It seems v weird to not be demanding they produce the kids immediately

just1n3, Thursday, 6 February 2020 03:44 (eight months ago) link

what the actual


New information continues to surface in the bizarre case of Joshua “J.J.” Vallow and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan, two missing children from Rexburg, Idaho.

Before the family’s move to Rexburg, JJ attended Lauren’s Institute For Education (also known as L.I.F.E. Academy) in Gilbert, Arizona.

Margaret Travillion, the co-founder & CEO of L.I.F.E., has released a statement outlining the timeline of the little boy’s enrollment — as well as the news that his mother, Lori Vallow, has repeatedly continued to sign into the school’s classroom monitoring system using a special app, even though JJ has not been a student at the school since September 2019.

“It would appear that an application or phone identified as Lori Vallow has been continually monitoring JJ’s classroom communication system we use between the classroom and the parents, in addition to our organization as a whole,” Travillion says in the statement, which was provided to PEOPLE. “Upon discovering that Lori’s name was used to sign on to this app, the name Lori Vallow has been tracked multiple times since JJ was unenrolled.”

Travillion says some of these log-ins occurred around Thanksgiving, as well as around Christmas, when the news about JJ and Tylee’s disappearance took the media by storm. She also said someone using Lori Vallow’s name continued to access the school’s app even as recently as last week, after which administrators removed her access. “We cannot speculate as to why Lori or someone using her accounts or electronics would continue to follow the classroom or our organization during this time frame,” Travillion says.


No criminal charges are pending against either Lori or Daybell, although authorities previously said that her refusal to produce the children last month as ordered by an Idaho court would risk civil or contempt of court citations that have not been issued.

^^^wow call me crazy but seems like a harsh punishment for two missing kids

omar little, Friday, 14 February 2020 20:56 (eight months ago) link

i finished american predator. it was ok. low grade reading level, the author is a new york post critic, which i didn't realize until the acknowledgments. i'm not a big serial killer person, but it was interesting enough. i need another book now.

forensic plumber (harbl), Saturday, 15 February 2020 00:32 (eight months ago) link

yeah i need some fresh recommends too

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Saturday, 15 February 2020 02:39 (eight months ago) link

Has anyone read Chaos by Tom O’Neill?


It’s as much about journalistic obsession as it is about the weird links between the Manson family and a whole host of government agencies, and is inevitably inconclusive, but it’s pretty wild.

ShariVari, Saturday, 15 February 2020 04:18 (eight months ago) link

I finished Grace Will Lead Us Home by Jennifer Berry Hawes, about the Charleston Mother Emanuel church shooting. author is a Local journalist, which lately I have found is usually a good sign of a sensitive telling. Really, really good. Mostly devoted to the survivors, does a great job of telling their stories. the details of the shooting itself were even more awful than I knew, and I knew it was beyond awful

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Saturday, 15 February 2020 21:33 (eight months ago) link

sharivari i was looking at that. my library has the kindle so i will queue it. i started the last stone by mark bowden.

forensic plumber (harbl), Sunday, 16 February 2020 02:03 (eight months ago) link

it’s a good one. harrowing though.

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Sunday, 16 February 2020 04:16 (eight months ago) link

–Kaua‘i police arrest Lori Vallow on $5 million warrant from Idaho– pic.twitter.com/n2ghadtfal

— Kaua'i Police Department (@kauaipd) February 21, 2020

forensic plumber (harbl), Saturday, 22 February 2020 00:47 (eight months ago) link

i am a little entertained watching her bail hearing because i do this irl like every day and it's equally mundane. i like people's accents.

forensic plumber (harbl), Saturday, 22 February 2020 02:05 (eight months ago) link

the guardian review of the o'neill book abt manson and mk ultra (weirdly not mention: call it by its name dude) is shockingly crappily written, given that its author peter conrad "is an australian-born academic specialising in english literature" (and also that the guardian has good sub editors some of whom we know on ilx)

mark s, Saturday, 22 February 2020 11:16 (eight months ago) link

two weeks pass...

"chaos" was interesting but exhausting

TIL that mari gilbert, the mother of one of the "lost girls" of the book of the same name, and whose tenacity lead to the investigation of those deaths, was murdered by her other daughter. gilbert is being played by amy ryan in the new "lost girls" movie based on the book but apparently they don't include her murder in the movie either. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/07/26/the-tragic-tale-of-a-daughter-accused-of-stabbing-her-own-mother-to-death/

na (NA), Wednesday, 11 March 2020 14:38 (seven months ago) link

oh god that is awful. that poor family :(

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Wednesday, 11 March 2020 17:23 (seven months ago) link

two weeks pass...

I never read the book -- and obviously won't, now -- but the FX series about The Most Dangerous Animal of All is pretty good. I think "guy desperately wants to believe his dad was the Zodiac killer and deluded himself into believing it" is actually weirder and more interesting as a show

absolute idiot liar uneducated person (mh), Wednesday, 25 March 2020 19:58 (seven months ago) link

two weeks pass...

catching up with this thread---re clemenza on British Columbia, thought of this, in latest dispatch from The Crime Lady (AKA Sarah Weinman, who has written about true crime and edited domestic suspense anthology, also that d.s. box set for Library of America):
If you are not listening to the podcast You’re Wrong About — and if not, why not, it’s wonderful — they are doing a book club-in-progress on Michelle Remembers, the long out-of-print 1980 tome by Michelle Smith and her psychiatrist (and future husband) Larry Pazder, that was essentially the “Patient Zero” of the Satanic panic. I am beyond fascinated with this story, since it originated in Victoria, BC, and 40 years on, encapsulates everything about the panic in a single story.

dow, Thursday, 9 April 2020 20:09 (six months ago) link

From her enewsletter before that one: true crime and (mostly) related fiction:

So many authors are seeing their book tours canceled, years of dreams supplanted. Amy Klein, who has a book coming up in April, on https://electricliterature.com/what-its-like-to-try-to-promote-a-book-in-the-middle-of-a-pandemic/ and alternative ways of doing so.

Which is also why I want to stump for my favorite books of 2020 so far, some that aren’t yet published yet:

The Third Rainbow Girl by Emma Copley Eisenberg (I reviewed it here: https://airmail.news/issues/2020-1-25/chasing-rainbows)

Weather by Jenny Offill — a timely novel that’s only going to get more classic over time.

Pretty As A Picture by Elizabeth Little — the voice! The insight into moviemaking! The scathing commentary about sexual politics and true crime! The teens! We did an event at Chevalier’s Books last month and I’ve never wanted an event to go on for many more hours. That’s what the book is like.

Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong — a brilliant collection as a whole, but I was particularly taken with her piece on the life and murder of Theresa Hak-Kyung Cha, an artist I’ve long wanted to write about (Dictee is one of my favorite books of all time) but now I don’t have to.

Lurking by Joanne McNeil — for the Internet old-timers, for those who want to know when the Internet was good, why it went bad, how it can foster community, it’s just a wonderful, thoughtful book.

Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson — for pure confection, post-modern mystery escapism.

Take Me Apart by Sara Sligar — my favorite debut crime novel of 2020 (out in April), just spot on about transforming life into art and who gets sacrificed — particularly women — as a result.

Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker — Lost Girls was a stone masterpiece and so is this book, out in April.

Wandering in Strange Lands by Morgan Jerkins (it’s out in May, and it singed my soul for how good it is)

My Life as a Villainess by Laura Lippman — chances are you’ve read some of the essays already published in venues like Longreads and Glamour, but trust me, the entire collection — also out in May — is dynamite. I’ll be thinking about the final piece for a long, long, time.

These Women by Ivy Pochoda (also out in May, and it reverse-engineers the serial killer narrative from the vantage point of all the women — victims, loved ones, those on the margins — who don’t end up in his orbit, but supersede his orbit.)

Life Events by Karolina Waclawiak (also out in May!) — I loved how it mined a woman’s drifting ambivalence through life, marriage, travel, and there are no easy answers, nor should there be.

Mother Daughter Widow Wife by Robin Wasserman (out June 23) — this novel had me questioning all of my life choices, and it wrung me dry. I felt changed reading this.

Becoming Duchess Goldblatt by Duchess Goldblatt (out in July) — it stole my heart and is a damn good memoir about creating a new identity to save yourself.

Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby (out in July) — my other favorite debut crime novel of 2020.

The Devil’s Harvest by Jessica Garrison (out August 4) — I blurbed this because it’s a propulsive and incisive look at a hired killer who targeted those on the margins — often poor, undocumented immigrants living in the Central Valley — told with necessary compassion.

True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee by Abraham Riesman (out September 29) — another book I blurbed because it made me understand the complex, hard-to-pin-down man that was Marvel Comics’ id and superego, and the archival research is amazing.

There will be more added to this list, of course. Let’s keep reading, let’s keep supporting authors, in this time and at all times.

dow, Thursday, 9 April 2020 20:28 (six months ago) link

two months pass...

Jenny Offill book is fantastic, Peter Swanson book is fun but daft as a brush

Tsar Bombadil (James Morrison), Wednesday, 17 June 2020 00:29 (four months ago) link

two months pass...

Got this from the cheap online remainder house I buy from:


As I started reading, I realized the story made an appearance on Mindhunter.

clemenza, Saturday, 22 August 2020 02:14 (two months ago) link

man the whole Dean Corll story is so fuuuuuuucked up. thats one that kept me up at night

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Saturday, 22 August 2020 02:27 (two months ago) link

Definitely. I'm just where Elmer Wayne Henley has killed him and they're digging up bodies. The first part of the book is mostly about a completely uninterested police department.

clemenza, Saturday, 22 August 2020 02:32 (two months ago) link

plus iirc that was published in 74... Brooks & Henley’s cases were still going through court up til like 79 or 80 i think. helluva long sad tail to that story.

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Saturday, 22 August 2020 02:37 (two months ago) link

Brooks died this year of COVID!

brownie, Saturday, 22 August 2020 12:56 (two months ago) link

Wow, that's amazing. He hasn't been that prominent in the book thus far.

clemenza, Saturday, 22 August 2020 12:59 (two months ago) link

two weeks pass...

Has anyone read Chaos by Tom O’Neill?


It’s as much about journalistic obsession as it is about the weird links between the Manson family and a whole host of government agencies, and is inevitably inconclusive, but it’s pretty wild.

― ShariVari, Friday, February 14, 2020 11:18 PM (six months ago)

ok i'm almost done with this and it's pretty good. i started helter skelter a long time ago but never finished it and it makes me never want to read it! since he's convinced me it's all LIES.

contorted filbert (harbl), Friday, 11 September 2020 20:43 (one month ago) link

I just finished it recently!

Bug is widely accepted as a total douchecanoe & kinda poisoned the well

The CHAOS book is really good - worthwhile buuut but with some caveats: it’s largely an exercise in watching someone lose themself in the rabbithole;

on the Los Angeles-centered stuff he’s great & raises good questions about Melcher, the Sherriff’s actions, and Bugliosi too

But on the CIA & was he an informant bigger spook stuff he just doesnt have the connections or the right kind of investigative experience to really illuminate any new or good information, by the time he gets there it feels like he’s drowning in theories & not ruling anything out. Also a lot of “...but he’s dead” / “he refused to talk to me” / “and then he hung up” / etc

Also the moment when he caught himself imploring Sharon Tate’s *father* to “think of the victims” it definitely got very YOURE OUT OF YOUR ELEMENT DONNIE

But all those peripheral people are fascinating so it still leaves you with a lot to explore, even if it doesnt quite go anywhere

Hats off to the editor because LORD that must have taken some doing to turn O’Neills notes into cogent narrative of any kind

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Saturday, 12 September 2020 01:10 (one month ago) link

yeah, agree with all that. at least he was contrite about his mistake with sharon tate's father but he could have just cut that whole part out, it didn't add anything to the story. i do think there was something to the fact that a lot of these guys couldn't explain their unusual actions & were funded by known CIA fronts but agree that i'd like to see someone with a background in intelligence to dig into it, because he got to the point that *it's conceivable* there's something there but not beyond. they could have the same trouble with missing info though, who knows. had someone else made these connections before him? it's not a case i'd read a ton about.

contorted filbert (harbl), Saturday, 12 September 2020 01:22 (one month ago) link

would like to know more about roman polanski too but felt like his suspicions about him were not well founded, just some odd behaviors that could have been innocent

contorted filbert (harbl), Saturday, 12 September 2020 01:25 (one month ago) link

innocent is not the right word to describe polanski at any point in time but you know what i mean

contorted filbert (harbl), Saturday, 12 September 2020 01:26 (one month ago) link

polanski suspicions wrt sharon’s murder mostly feel opportunistic, it’s just over-scrutiny of someone who was grieving in a really unhealthy unhinged way
he is fucked up and guilty of many things & not deserving of much sympathy at all but i think melcher & wilson deserved way more scrutiny than polanski

i kept thinking, if someone like an ex local news journalist had done this, and really pushed their connections, you could probably get some interesting stuff

i think a lot of stuff is known in the manson-obsessed community but not many other books that I know of collect all the wackos in one place like O’Neill has here

Ed Sanders’ The Family is a good followup now that you have all the nerdy trainspotter stuff situated - it was written in 71 and is a good ground-zero place to really start honing your what-ifs ... plus he writes in a very grooooovybaby way lol

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Saturday, 12 September 2020 01:36 (one month ago) link

I read several reviews, saw a couple interviews with Jeff Guinn that made his Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson seem professionally credible: he researches details and familial-societal context of origin quite a bit, not settling for The Bad Seed but not reductive either.

dow, Saturday, 12 September 2020 01:44 (one month ago) link

i guess one benefit of the first-person rabbitholeness aspect of this book is that it lends the theory more credibility than if he had come at it another way. he wants to assure you he is NOT a conspiracy theorist and is resistant to believing any of this is possible, which i can relate to. i think i am going to be reading more books about the CIA. lol.

contorted filbert (harbl), Saturday, 12 September 2020 01:47 (one month ago) link

yeah i read about half of that a while ago, it had to go back to the library. but i remember liking it.

contorted filbert (harbl), Saturday, 12 September 2020 01:48 (one month ago) link

Also, one of his lost girls (who testified for the prosecution):
Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult, and the Darkness That Ended the Sixties, by Dianne Lake, seems like it might be good---not enough by the female participants and/or survivors, seems like.

dow, Saturday, 12 September 2020 01:49 (one month ago) link

Guinn’s book is the best at unravelling the mythology of Manson & just showing him as the humbug he was: a carny, a pimp & an egomaniac. Highly recommend.

I have Lake’s book in my pile of “to reads” but I haven’t read it yet — need to dig in to that

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Saturday, 12 September 2020 01:58 (one month ago) link

xpost Those mentioned and several others, incl. O'Neill and Sanders, cited here, in the wake of Tarentino:

dow, Saturday, 12 September 2020 02:33 (one month ago) link

I think Guinn is a really good grounding, and the exact opposite of what-if. You really get a tangible, unvarnished & uncomfortable understanding of the reality of Manson, his crimes & his relatiinships. I think it would especially effective as a counterbalance to O’Neill’s freewheeling red-string-diagram.

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Saturday, 12 September 2020 02:56 (one month ago) link

Veg, pretty sure you will enjoy DES currently on in the UK: David Tennant as Dennis Nilsen

Tsar Bombadil (James Morrison), Tuesday, 15 September 2020 02:32 (one month ago) link

oh whoa didnt know about this! thx fod the heads up

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Tuesday, 15 September 2020 02:48 (one month ago) link

showing him as the humbug he was: a carny, a pimp & an egomaniac

i think maybe you are forgetting 'murderous sociopath', because it's too hard to describe him accurately without mentioning the murders as part of who he was at the time.

the unappreciated charisma of cows (Aimless), Tuesday, 15 September 2020 03:56 (one month ago) link

i figured that was implied but ok

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Tuesday, 15 September 2020 05:09 (one month ago) link

A long Black Dahlia story from crimereads.


nickn, Thursday, 17 September 2020 00:53 (one month ago) link

one month passes...

not a true crime (maybe?), but since chaos got me interested in the CIA so i read the devil's chessboard by david talbot. pretty good. author believes more in the anti-soviet project than i would have liked, but it's a good overview of the first few decades of the CIA. it touches on sidney gottlieb and patrice lumumba assassination and some other things that i knew about, but there are many more forgotten things. i kept going to myself, "they what?!" a few more books like this until i'm someone who won't shut up about the CIA.

superdeep borehole (harbl), Thursday, 22 October 2020 22:45 (one week ago) link

oh interesting, i’ll add that to my list!

i feel like anytime cia involvement is revealed a family member somewhere is reading the news like “wait so crazy uncle jerry was telling the TRUTH?”

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Thursday, 22 October 2020 22:56 (one week ago) link


superdeep borehole (harbl), Thursday, 22 October 2020 23:02 (one week ago) link

i'm really angry that you go to school and learn about the kennedy assassination in history and it's just this thing that happened, a crazy guy was mad at him or whatever, *it is a mystery*. it's not a mystery! same as learning about latin america. fuck!

superdeep borehole (harbl), Thursday, 22 October 2020 23:09 (one week ago) link

Plus there’s shit like Greece or Chile and it’s like these mfers are gaslighting everyone, ~also~ high school textbook writers

open yr eyes, maaaaaan

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Thursday, 22 October 2020 23:34 (one week ago) link

I must be a masochist ... I got this 700 page book Deconstructing Jack where the guy drains the piss out of every Ripperologist ever. He sez Jack the Ripper don't exist, he was a bunch of guys. I say "like, duh",seems kind of intuitive. I mean there's this chapter long bit on Irish Nationalists and the Times, loads of social history without someone's pet theory getting in the way.

Federation of Inter-State Truckers (I M Losted), Saturday, 24 October 2020 01:56 (one week ago) link

that sounds nice though. does it presume some knowledge about jack the ripper? i confess i don't know a lot about that one.

superdeep borehole (harbl), Saturday, 24 October 2020 02:04 (one week ago) link

I have just started tackling it, so I dunno, but I have watched a jillion documentaries and read a bunch of books and my impression is that the whole premise is that Ripperologists are full of shit, so you'd have to be familiar with that culture. There's really no point in the book where says, "here's what went down." I'm into it because I like Victorian history and old newspapers.

Federation of Inter-State Truckers (I M Losted), Saturday, 24 October 2020 02:17 (one week ago) link

I still want to read Bruce Robinson’s Jack the Ripper book because I’m such a withnail nerd

covidsbundlertanze op. 6 (Jon not Jon), Saturday, 24 October 2020 15:32 (one week ago) link

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