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What to Read if You Love (or Hate) "Making a Murderer"

Netflix's "Making of a Murder" certainly has gotten people's attention. Much of the publicity around the show has focused on Steven Avery's possible innocence, but the people I've talked to (and I realize this is anecdotal) have voiced a little more doubt about the situation than, say, those who petitioned the White House for a presidential pardon. Truth is, we really don't know what happened.

Whichever side you fall on--he did it, or you're not so sure--"Making of a Murderer" is riveting television. For those who'd like more, here are two lists of books to appeal to two different types of true crime connoisseurs:




People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished from the Streets of Tokyo--and the Evil That Swallowed Her Up - A young woman--tall, blond, and English--sets off to work in a Tokyo bar where she disappears into the darkness, only to be found much later, chopped up, her body parts hidden in a seaside cave. This is a fascinating exploration of different cultures and the potentially black depths of the human soul. You'll meet the killer here, and he's chilling.



The Stranger Beside Me - This one is a classic that launched Rule's career as a writer. Ann Rule knew the serial killer Ted Bundy in Seattle in the 1970s, when they worked together at a suicide crisis center. In the book, she writes about his crimes and her slow grasping of the fact that he was indeed the serial killer people said he was.



In Cold Blood - Although billed as a nonfictional account, In Cold Blood appears to have scenes and dialogue that were added by Truman Capote to heighten the narrative. Nonetheless, the book really broke open the genre of true crime, and there's no denying that the majority of the story told in this book is true. In late 1959, a wheat farmer, his wife, and two young children were found bound and gagged and shot to death in their home. Capote headed out to Kansas to learn more, and while he was out there the perpetrators were caught. He proceeded to interview both of them, to research and write, and the book wasn't published until 1966, after both men were hanged for the quadruple murder.



Helter Skelter - Here's the best-selling true crime novel of all time. And boy did he do it. Vincent Bugliosi--the author of Helter Skelter--prosecuted Charles Manson for the 1969 crimes that made Manson infamous. In this book you can learn everything that Bugliosi learned about Charles Manson and the Manson family murders of the late 60s that captivated the country.



The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America - Set during the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, this book took author Erik Larson's career to a new level. The book combines the stories of two men: Daniel H. Burnham, the mastermind behind the spectacular 1893 World's Fair, and Dr. H.H. Holmes, who built his "World's Fair Hotel" just west of the fairgrounds—a torture palace complete with dissection table, gas chamber, and 3,000-degree crematorium.




And the Sea Will Tell - Two couples set sail on different boats in the South Pacific. Only one of the couples makes it to their island destination... arriving on the other couple's boat. In two trials, the surviving husband is found guilty of murder and the surviving wife is exonerated. What really happened?



Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil - The question here is not so much did he do it? It's more a question of was it murder? Local antiques dealer Jim Williams definitely shot Danny Hansford, a prostitute, in his home. But was it self-defense, as he claimed. Williams was tried four times. Set in Savannah, there's lots of local personality and southern gothic atmosphere in this book.



An Innocent Man - John Grisham published this book, his first piece of nonfiction, in 2006. The story is a defense of Oklahoma's Ron Williamson, a former baseball standout who was drafted by the Oakland A's. After bottoming out in baseball--a bad arm, drugs, drink, and women--he returned home. Then in 1982 a local waitress was raped and murdered. Five years later Williamson was charged without any physical evidence, sentenced and put on death row. Grisham presents an impassioned and reasoned examination of the case, the death penalty, and fairness under the law.


A Death in Belmont - In the spring of 1963, the quiet suburb of Belmont, Massachusetts, is rocked by a shocking murder that fits the pattern of the infamous Boston Strangler, still at large. Hoping for a break in the case, the police arrest Roy Smith, a black ex-con whom the victim hired to clean her house. Smith is hastily convicted of the murder, but the Strangler's terror continues. And through it all, one man escapes the scrutiny of the police: a carpenter working at the time at the Belmont home of young Sebastian Junger and his parents—a man named Albert

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