Filed under: Gregg Olsen
Something’s wrong with one of the genres I love.
Even to admit that I love true crime books, probably makes you think I’m living a trailer park eating Doritos and watching TV all day long. But I’m not.
At least, not the Doritos part.
Ann Rule’s latest, Too Late to Say Goodbye, debuted at number 13 on the NY Times list. Only number 13. Our Miss Ann hasn’t popped in on the list at a lower number than that—at least that I can remember—in years. Not only that, it fell off the after a couple of weeks.
The woman who wrote the book that was the basis for film, Boys Don’t Cry, Aphrodite Jones is being published by iUniverse. No matter how you slice it, the once heralded heiress-apparent to Ann is a self-published author now. Who would have thought that possible, say, five years ago?
Kathryn Casey, who has written some worthy TCs, is about to jump into fiction. Diane Fanning, an Edgar nominee last year for terrific true crime book, is doing the same. And why not? Print runs are larger and it’s a hell of a lot easier to make something up than to research the truth. Even I have taken the leap.
Court TV is going to dump most of its gavel to gavel coverage next year. If you’re a TC fan, you know how much fun a trial can be—even the boring stuff is fun.
Reality is boring, remember?
Recent lists of “best TC books of all time” by Rule (and others) were devoid of any title published in the last few years.
So what happened? Two things, by my way of thinking. First, video might have killed more than the radio star. But TV also stabbed the heart of the TC publishing industry. Think about it. All of the Gretas and Nancys and Geraldos have humped the life out of so many great TC stories, that splendidly crafted and well-researched books were never written about some of the greatest cases of our time. Thank goodness TV sniffed and turned up its nose at wall-to-wall coverage of the great crime cases of the recent past. There’d be no Small Sacrifices, Fatal Vision or In Cold Blood if TV existed as it does in its current state.
Even TV shows like the CSI and Law & Order franchises have contributed to the slow death of TC. They perpetuate the easy-reader style of detective work that spoon feeds all clues and relevant details so no one has to think. Viewers/readers don’t like to think anymore. They don’t like to dig into a case the way they used to.
The way I see it, this publishing genre is on life-support. I hope that (like the cliché at the end of a teen slasher film) true crime publishing comes back to life and grabs a reader by the throat. All genres have their day — Westerns are a good example of one that has come and gone to some extent.
I’m going to eat some Doritos (OK, I lied, but in fiction, that’s OK) and plot out another novel.
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