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True Crime, Another Mystery Subgenre

I’ve already posted accounts of some of the mystery subgenres: the cozy, noir, psychological thriller, and historical mystery. True crime is another, but it claims to be a non-fiction account of a real crime. The focus might be a single case of a violent crime or the collective acts of a single criminal. The emphasis is on the facts: the chronology of events from the investigation through the legal proceedings with details about the people affected.

Aside from The Executioner’s Song, another prominent true crime account is Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood (1965), the bestselling true crime book of all time. It is credited with establishing the modern novelistic style of the genre. Other outstanding books include Helter Skelter, by the lead Manson family prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi and Ann Rule's The Stranger Beside Me about Ted Bundy.

According to Dean Fido, Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Darby, “Our true crime obsession likely stems from a combined desire for control and for new experiences or stories . . . We need something that creates an element of excitement.”

Depending on the writer, true crime can adhere strictly to well-established facts, or it can be highly speculative. Writers can selectively choose which information to present and which to leave out in order to support their story. In short, even the work of Truman Capote has been found to have fictional elements blended into his historical accounts.

But you never have to worry about separating fact from fiction in the Miriam bat Isaac Mystery Series. While praised for their historical accuracy, the crimes themselves are sensational but absolute fiction. To view a book, click here.


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