True Crime

The Mystery Writers of America recently announced their Edgar Awards, for the best mystery and crime writing of the year. This list includes the true crime titles that were nominated (the first five), and I've thrown in a few others for good measure. All are available in our Overdrive collection, most of them both as ebook and eaudio.

The ghosts of Eden Park : the bootleg king, the women who pursued him, and the murder that shocked jazz- age America

Karen Abbott

eBOOK
True Crime, Music, History

The epic true crime story of bootlegger George Remus and the murder that shocked the nation, from the New York Times bestselling author of Sin in the Second City and Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy In the early days of Prohibition, long before Al Capone became a household name, a German immigrant named George Remus quits practicing law and starts trafficking whiskey. Within two years he's a multi-millionaire. The press calls him "King of the Bootleggers," writing breathless stories about the Gatsby-esque events he and his glamorous second wife, Imogene, host at their Cincinnati mansion, with party favors ranging from diamond jewelry for the men to brand-new Pontiacs for the women. By the summer of 1921, Remus owns 35 percent of all the liquor in the United States. Pioneering prosecutor Mabel Walker Willebrandt is determined to bring him down. Willebrandt's bosses at the U.S. Attorney's office hired her right out of law school, assuming she'd pose no real threat to the cozy relationship they maintain with Remus. Eager to prove them wrong, she dispatches her best investigator, Franklin Dodge, to look into his empire. It's a decision with deadly consequences: with Remus behind bars, Franklin and Imogene begin an affair and plot to ruin him, sparking a bitter feud that soon reaches the highest levels of government--and that can only end in murder. Combining deep historical research with novelistic flair, THE GHOSTS OF EDEN PARK is the unforgettable, stranger-than-fiction story of a rags-to-riches entrepreneur and a long-forgotten heroine, of the excesses and absurdities of the Jazz Age, and of the infinite human capacity to deceive.

The less people know about us : a mystery of betrayal, family secrets, and stolen identity

Axton Betz-Hamilton

eBOOK
True Crime, Biographies

In this honest and engaging true-crime memoir, Betz-Hamilton revisits her small-town Indiana childhood and college years, and the identity fraud that rocked her family. Before it's an often-discussed crime, Betz-Hamilton's mother attributes the unpaid bills, fraudulent checks, and unknown property in her husband's name to stolen identity. Convinced that the perpetrator is someone close to them, the family of three learns not to trust anyone and becomes relatively isolated in the face of authorities' inability and unwillingness to help. The author is so affected by these events, especially after learning that a credit card was opened in her name when she was just 11, that she later studies consumer sciences with a focus on identity theft. It is only while going through her mother's belongings after her untimely death that Betz-Hamilton begins to unravel the truth. This memoir has all the suspense and twists of a thriller; even as readers begin to suspect the truth, it still shocks. This bloodless true-crime tale is highly recommended for fans of books about con artists and family secrets.

American predator : the hunt for the most meticulous serial killer of the 21st century

Maureen Callahan

eBOOK
True Crime

A gripping tour de force of investigative journalism that takes us deep into the investigation behind one of the most frightening and enigmatic serial killers in modern American history, and into the ranks of a singular American police force: the Anchorage PD Most of us have never heard of Israel Keyes. But he is one of the most ambitious, meticulous serial killers of modern time. The FBI considered his behavior unprecedented. Described by a prosecutor as "a force of pure evil," he was a predator who struck all over the United States. He buried "kill kits"--Cash, weapons, and body-disposal tools--in remote locations across the country and over the course of fourteen years, would fly to a city, rent a car, and drive thousands of miles in order to use his kits. He would break into a stranger's house, abduct his victims in broad daylight, and kill and dispose of them in mere hours. And then he would return home, resuming life as a quiet, reliable construction worker devoted to his only daughter. When journalist Maureen Callahan first heard about Israel Keyes in 2012, she was captivated by how a killer of this magnitude could go undetected by law enforcement for over a decade. And so began a project that consumed her for the next several years--uncovering the true story behind how the FBI ultimately caught Israel Keyes, and trying to understand what it means for a killer like Keyes to exist. A killer who left a path of monstrous, randomly committed crimes in his wake--many of which remain unsolved to this day. American Predator is the ambitious culmination of years of on-the-ground interviews with key figures in law enforcement and in Keyes's life, and research uncovered from classified FBI files. Callahan takes us on a journey into the chilling, nightmarish mind of a relentless killer, and the limitations of traditional law enforcement, in one of America's most isolated environments--Alaska--when faced with a killer who defies all expectation and categorization.

Norco '80 : the true story of the most spectacular bank robbery in American history

Peter Houlahan

eAUDIO
True Crime

Norco '80 tells the story of how five heavily armed young men--led by an apocalyptic born-again Christian--attempted a bank robbery that turned into one of the most violent criminal events in U.S. history, forever changing the face of American law enforcement. Part action thriller and part courtroom drama, Norco '80 transports the reader back to the Southern California of the 1970s, an era of predatory evangelical gurus, doomsday predictions, megachurches, and soaring crime rates, with the threat of nuclear obliteration looming over it all. In this riveting true story, a group of landscapers transformed into a murderous gang of bank robbers armed to the teeth with military-grade weapons. Their desperate getaway turned the surrounding towns into war zones. When it was over, three were dead and close to twenty wounded; a police helicopter was forced down from the sky, and thirty-two police vehicles were destroyed by thousands of rounds of ammo. The resulting trial shook the community to the core, raising many issues that continue to plague society today: from the epidemic of post-traumatic stress disorder within law enforcement to religious extremism and the militarization of local police forces.

Indecent advances : a hidden history of true crime and prejudice before Stonewall

James Polchin

eBOOK
True Crime, History

A skillful hybrid of true crime and social history that examines the relationship between the media and popular culture in the portrayal of crimes against gay men in the decades before Stonewall. Stories of murder have never been just about killers and victims. Instead, crime stories take the shape of their times and reflect cultural notions and prejudices. In Indecent Advances, James Polchin recovers and recounts queer stories from the crime pages--often lurid and euphemistic--that reveal the hidden history of violence against gay men. What was left unsaid in the crime pages provides insight into the figure of the queer man as both criminal and victim, offering readers tales of vice and violence that aligned gender and sexual deviance with tragic, gruesome endings. Victims were often reported as having made "indecent advances," forcing the accused's hands in self-defense and reducing murder charges to manslaughter. Published in time for the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall uprising on June 28, 1969, Indecent Advances investigates how queer men navigated a society that criminalized them and displayed little compassion for the violence they endured. Polchin shows, with masterful insight, how this discrimination was ultimately transformed by activists to help shape the burgeoning gay rights movement in the years leading up to Stonewall.

Murder by the book : the crime that shocked Dickens's London

Claire Harman

eBOOK
True Crime, History

"From the prize-winning biographer--the fascinating, little-known story of a Victorian-era murder that rocked literary London, leading Charles Dickens, William Thackeray, and Queen Victoria herself to wonder: can a novel kill? In May 1840, Lord William Russell, well known in London's highest social circles, was found with his throat cut. The brutal murder had the whole city talking. The police suspected Russell's valet, Courvoisier, but the evidence was weak. And the missing clue lay in the unlikeliest place: what Courvoisier had been reading. In the years just before the murder, new printing methods had made books cheap and abundant, the novel form was on the rise, and suddenly everyone was reading. The best-selling titles were the most sensational true-crime stories. Even Dickens and Thackeray, both at the beginning of their careers, fell under the spell of these tales--Dickens publicly admiring them, Thackeray rejecting them. One such phenomenon was William Harrison Ainsworth's Jack Sheppard, the story of an unrepentant criminal who escaped the gallows time and again. When Courvoisier finally confessed his guilt, he would cite this novel in his defense. Murder By the Book combines the thrilling true-crime story with a illuminating account of the rise of the novel form and the battle for its early soul between the most famous writers of the time. It is a superbly researched, vividly written, fascinating read from first to last"--

Race against time : a reporter reopens the unsolved murder cases of the civil rights era

Jerry Mitchell

eBOOK
True Crime, History

*Starred Review* Award-winning journalist Mitchell began working for Mississippi's statewide newspaper The Clarion-Ledger in 1986 as the "lowliest of reporters. After a screening of Mississippi Burning, the 1988 film about the murders of three civil rights workers, he gets a tip that there was more to the story and that many of the responsible parties were free, living in Mississippi, and likely still active in the KKK. This starts Mitchell down a road of looking into some of the highest-profile crimes of the Civil Rights era. Starting with his own investigative work, he helps to reopen the murder cases of Medgar Evers and Vernon Dahmer; the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in which four girls died; and, 20 years later, the Mississippi Burning case. Mitchell's straightforward style suits the stories perfectly: neither the families' continued heartache nor the hate of those on trial need be embellished to be affecting. While the cases themselves are drawn out over many years, the reading, especially the extensive courtroom scenes, is riveting. A great readalike for Kevin Boyle's Arc of Justice (2004), this is both an important Civil Rights document and a timely read in the wake of the recent rise of hate crimes.

The third rainbow girl : the long life of a double murder in Appalachia

Emma Copley Eisenberg

eBOOK
True Crime

"In the early evening of June 25, 1980, Vicki Durian, 26, and Nancy Santomero, 19, were killed in an isolated clearing in Pocahontas County, West Virginia. They were hitchhiking to a festival known as the Rainbow Gathering but never arrived. For thirteen years no one was prosecuted for the "Rainbow Murders," though suspicion was cast on a succession of local men. In 1993, a local farmer was convicted, only to be released when a known serial killer and diagnosed schizophrenic named Joseph Paul Franklin claimed responsibility. With the passage of time, as the truth seemed to slip away, the toll became more inescapable--the unsolved murders were a trauma, experienced on a community scale. Emma Copley Eisenberg spent five years re-investigating these brutal acts, which once captured the national media's imagination, only to fall into obscurity. A one-time New Yorker who took a job in Pocahontas County, Eisenberg shows how a mysterious act of violence against a pair of middle-class outsiders, has loomed over all those involved for generations, shaping their identities, fates, and the stories they tell about themselves. In The Third Rainbow Girl, Eisenberg follows the threads of this crime through the complex history of Appalachia, forming a searing portrait of America and its divisions of gender and class, and of its violence"--

Yellow Bird : oil, murder, and a woman's search for justice in Indian country

Sierra Crane Murdoch

eBOOK
True Crime, History

"When Lissa Yellow Bird was released from prison in 2009, she found her home, the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota, transformed by the Bakken oil boom. In her absence, the landscape had been altered beyond recognition, her tribal government swayed by corporate interests, and her community burdened by a surge in violence and addiction. Three years later, when Lissa learned that a young white oil worker, Kristopher 'KC' Clarke, had disappeared from his reservation worksite, she became particularly concerned. No one knew where Clarke had gone, and no one but his mother was actively looking for him. Unfolding like a gritty mystery, Yellow Bird traces Lissa's steps as she obsessively hunts for clues to Clarke's disappearance. She navigates two worlds -- that of her own tribe, changed by its newfound wealth, and that of the non-Native oil workers, down on their luck, who have come to find work on the heels of the economic recession. Her pursuit becomes an effort at redemption -- an atonement for her own crimes and a reckoning with generations of trauma. Yellow Bird is both an exquisitely written, masterfully reported story about a search for justice and a remarkable portrait of a complex woman who is smart, funny, eloquent, compassionate, and -- when it serves her cause -- manipulative. Ultimately, it is a deep examination of the legacy of systematic violence inflicted on a tribal nation and a tale of extraordinary healing"--