Killer Year–The Class of 2007

True Crime: Over and Out
July 13, 2007, 11:26 am
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.

Fell off!

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.


11 Comments so far
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Just so you’ll know, I have no intention of leaving the true crime genre. I’d like to write both fiction and true crime. I hae a mystery novel coming out on July 18. But I also have a True Crime about astronaut Lisa Nowak coming out on October 30 and I am working on a True Crime about Mary Winkler, the preacher’s wife who shot her husband in the back and took her girls to the beach.
I also have just completed another novel but I don’t see myself ever abandoning True Crime.

Comment by Diane Fanning

Diane, thanks for stopping by. What’s your novel called?

Comment by killeryear

I for one enjoy READING TC and definately do not want it to disappear!!!

Comment by Blaundy

BITE THE MOON is the name of my mystery novel, Gregg. It’s about a guitar string murder in a historic musical hall in the hill country of Texas. It got good reviews in Library Journal and Booklist, so I’ve got my fingers crossed.
How’s WICKED SNOW doing for you?

Comment by Diane Fanning

I’m excited about my first novel, Singularity, hitting bookstores in summer 08, but I do still hope to do TC when the right case comes along! That said, you’re right, Gregg: TC is a hard road these days.

Hey Gregg, you need to include yourself as a TC to fiction convert. I hear great things about “A Wicked Snow.” It’s on my to-read pile.

Comment by Kathryn Casey

Well… That explains the Doritos shortage in the Puget Sound area!!

No offense to the any of the authors who’ve commented on this blog entry and no offense to Sir Gregg either… BUT, I’m strictly a non-fiction reader. The fictional murder mysteries might sell better than the “real deal”, but I will never buy or read a fiction book. Never. I’d rather read an entire volume of Encyclopedia Brittanica than try and delve into fiction. I’m currently ¾ of the way through “If Loving You Is Wrong”… for the second time.

While I admire your ability to write fiction and wish you much success, I’m happy to hear than none of you have given up on authoring TC.

Comment by bloo

Long live True Crime! Yes, Gregg, I have to admit it… one of my guilty pleasures is to watch any of the Law and Order series but if given the choice, I would take my love to read over TV any day! I’m just glad that you, Matt, and others, are around to write awesome TC books.

Because it does take a lot of time and energy to research and write TC, I personally would rather spend my time writing erotic short stories and work on my first erotic novel. LOL!

Keep up the great work and the great site,!

Comment by Rayvyn Myst

First of all, Gregg, I’d like to know what’s wrong with Doritos. I love me some Doritos!

Secondly, I have always been an avid reader, especially of TC. That will never change. My family still thinks I “read really weird stuff.” I have a degree in CJ, but I began reading TC long before I ever went to college.

I like a good TV show or movie every now and then, but a good TC book is where it’s all at for me.

Gregg, to you and all the other TC writers out there, keep on writing….even if it’s just for me. Yeah, yeah, I know…pretty selfish of me but I’d be lost without my books.

TC (and Doritos) totally rock!

Comment by KDuba

Gregg, you know what I say, Lose Nancy, Greta, and Geraldo and keep the true crime books coming. I for one, would prefer reading a well-written TC book over listening to Nancy’s tirades anyday.

I love Doritos, too.

Comment by Tina

I had no idea Doritos were so much a cultural touchstone for all of us. Love ’em!


Comment by killeryear

Gregg, I too will never reject true crime but your “A Wicked Snow” was great. But true crime will always be my first choice. Diane, I have preordered “Bite the Moon”.

Comment by LittleLindy

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