As a college student, Ann Rule studied creative writing, psychology, and criminology, but it was likely the summers she spent as a volunteer in the jail where her grandfather was sheriff that started her interest in crime writing. Ann Rule started publishing articles in true crime and detective magazines under the pseudonym Andy Stack in the late 1960s. During the 1970s, she worked briefly as an officer with the Seattle Police Department, but it was the time she spent working at a suicide hotline that offered real insight into the criminal mind. As fate would have it, one of her coworkers was serial killer Ted Bundy, and the eventual topic of her first, partially autobiographic, book, The Stranger Beside me. Since the 1980s she has written over thirty books profiling serial killers, murderers, and other terrifying criminals. Her choice to focus on the victims of these crimes adds a human element to what might otherwise be the story of an inhuman monster. Because of the disturbing nature of her subjects, these books are not for those of us with weak stomachs or faint hearts, but if you enjoy a peek into the dark corners of humanity or real world mysteries, true crime might be the genre for you. You can read more about Ann Rule at her website or this interview with Book Page from 2002.
If you enjoy Ann Rule's true crime books, you might also enjoy:
Vincent Bugliosi was a prosecutor in California before he turned to writing, and it was his successful prosecution of Charles Manson that led to the publication of his first book, Helter Skelter. He has written several other true crime titles, but in recent years his carefully researched books have been more political in nature.
Joseph Wambaugh served on the Los Angeles Police Force for fourteen years, an experience which adds to the enjoyably human characters of his procedural mysterieas. In addition to fiction titles like his Hollywood Station series, he writes true crime titles like Fire Lover, the story of a man who was a fire investigator and an arsonist.
Erik Larson is probably best known for The Devil in the White City, the compelling story of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, and Herman Mudgett, the serial killer who held the city in terror. Mr Larson has several years of experience working as a journalist, and those skills allow him to bring life to the historical topics of his books.
Joe McGinniss also has extensive experience as a journalist, though primarily as a sports writer. His most recent true crime title, Never Enough, is the story of the separate murders, one of which remains unsolved, of the two Kissel brothers.
Stella Sands is both a true crime author and the editor of a children's magazine, Kids Discover. In researching this post, I was particularly struck by Behind the Mask, the story of a murderous librarian.
The author of both history and true crime books, M. William Phelps' The Devil's Rooming House is the story of a woman who helped to pioneer the modern nursing home, and killed over sixty people.
Patricia Bryan, a law professor, has written about the murder of a farmer in Indianola, Iowa in 1900, Midnight Assassin.
Bestselling true crime author, Robert Graysmith's latest book, The Girl in Alfred Hitchcock's Shower, is about the rape and murder of Marli Renfro, the nude body double from Psycho.
Les Standiford writes history, mystery, and now true crime. Bringing Adam Home is the story of the murder and abduction of Adam Walsh, the son of John Walsh who is known today as the host of "America's Most Wanted."
Careless Whispers by Carlton Stowers tells the story of three young people murdered near Lake Waco, Texas..
Never Seen Again by Jeanne King tells of the disappearance of a Nashville lawyer's wife, and the conviction of her murderer ten years later.
A Twisted Faith by Gregg Olsen is a true crime work about a murderous minister by an author who also writes mystery novels.
A Peculiar Tribe of People by Richard Jay Hutto is the story of the 1960 murder of a Georgia woman, and her husband the slumlord's conviction for sodomy.
The Murder of Dr. Chapman by Linda Wolfe tells of a murder from 1830s America by the conman Lino Espos y Mina.
Shake the Devil Off by journalist Ethan Brown is the story of Zackery Bowen, an Iraq veteran who brutally murdered his girl friend before committing suicide in post-Katrina New Orleans.
We also have a list of true crime inspired films and documentaries available at the library.
Please stop by the Recommendations Desk on the first floor, check out NoveList Plus on the library's website, or visit W. 11th & Bluff next week for more reading suggestions. Or submit a Personal Recommendations request, and we'll create a reading list just for you!