Monday, May 3, 2010

Best true crime books

Sarah Weinman contributes to the Los Angeles Times, the Baltimore Sun, the New York Post and other publications; she blogs about at books Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind.

A character named "Sarah Weinman" appears in Michael Connelly's Echo Park, Robert Crais's Hostage, and Sparkle Hayter's Naked Brunch.

She named her best true crime books for The Daily Beast. One title on the list:
In Cold Blood
by Truman Capote

In many ways, this is the ur-true crime text, defining the upper limit of what this often sneered-upon genre can do: use the story of one grisly act as a jumping-off point for larger considerations of the human condition. The bare bones of how Perry Smith and Dick Hickok tortured and killed the Clutter family are easily available via Wikipedia, but settling for the facts is like choosing McDonald's over Peter Luger's for your burger. In Cold Blood shows how Capote's narrative trickery, extensive research (with the help of his famous, reclusive cousin Harper Lee), account of the crime's impact on the small town of Holcomb, Kansas and personification with the murders illuminates Arendt-style banality of evil, and how thin the line that separates horror from normality.
Read about the other books on the list.

In Cold Blood also appears on Catherine Crier's five top crime books list, Ann Rule's five best list of true-crime books, and Bryan Burrough's six best books list. Kansas' first poet laureate Jonathan Holden's chose In Cold Blood for The Great Kansas novel.

--Marshal Zeringue