True crime has been considered a genre since Truman Capote released "In Cold Blood" in 1966. He credits himself with the creation of the "nonfiction novel." Today, True Crime has its own section in bookstores and a whole aisle at the Ligonier Valley Library.
Upstairs on the mezzanine under the call number 364.15, you can always find people sitting on a stool perusing a true crime thriller. Sometimes when I walk by, a person might pretend to be looking at books across the aisle so I won't think they are looking at True Crime books. Typically, though, they will be so engrossed in what they're reading that they won't even look up.
Many people read true crime books. Yet the general public believes that other people will think they are sick if they find out their little secret. In other words, it's not a good thing to bring up on a first date...
True Crime has come a long way since "In Cold Blood." Yes, there are those mass market paperbacks about the latest crime in the news. Yet there are also literary greats like "In Cold Blood" that are being published even today.
"Thunderstruck" and "Devil in the White City" are two literary True Crime books that come to mind. Written in 2006 and 2003, respectively, these books took the reading world by storm when they were published.
Other "literary" True Crime books include "A Death in Belmont" by Sebastian Junger, "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" by John Berendt, and "The Executioner's Song" by Norman Mailer. Mailer's book, however, is classified under fiction because of fictionalized conversations. The story, however, is true.
Some classic True Crime titles include: "Helter Skelter" by Vincent Bugliosi, "Shot in the Heart" by Mikal Gilmore, and "Blind Faith" and "Fatal Vision" --both by Joe McGinnis.
Of course, the most famous True Crime writer has to be Ann Rule. She is famous for "Small Sacrifices" and "The Stranger Beside Me." The latter is about Ted Bundy. She worked with him in a self-help clinic before he went on to become famous--or infamous.
So, the next time you're embarrassed to admit that you read True Crime books, don't be. We at the Ligonier Valley Library understand because we see people reading them everyday!