I am currently reading "Surviving the Mob" by Denny Griffin and Andrew DiDonato. I know both of them and have Spotlighted them in my Examiner columns. However, even though I know the story is true, and I'd heard much of it before, it is still hard for me to put the Andrew I know and like into the mold of a dangerous guy. I've also experienced this feeling with other former gangsters I've interviewed. It really puts a different spin on the story when it is someone you know.

Speaking of that, the true crime book that threw me for a loop as the saying goes, was one written years ago that has now been reissued. "Till Death Us Do Part," by Vincent Bugliosi. What I read on page 40 made my jaw drop. I read on in morbid fascination as I realized the character, Alan Palliko, the fictionalized murderer, was my boyfriend for about six months when I was just out of high school. Ooooh. Chills. One of his assets was that he was such a charming guy. (My name was different then--so was his.)


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I used to read a lot of true crime, but haven't for ages.  Partly because, as a prosecutor, I get my fix every day.  But also because I feel like a lot have a fairly standard format: set the scene, describe poor innocent victim, grisly murder, trial, conviction.  A lot of the time, I guess I feel like the stories are relatively interchangeable.  I'd like to see a crime unfold from a different perspective, maybe that of a defense lawyer, a prosecutor, or a detective. 

Maybe my take is all wrong and I need to get back to reading them.  I'll be interested to see what others say.

Mark, I can certainly appreciate your comments. The same thing happened to me when I was an interior designer. I read so many similar articles, I finally stopped reading most.

That said, if you haven't read "Till Death Us Do Part" aside from the fact that it totally freaked me out when I realied the murderer had been my boyfriend, Vincent Bugliosi does exactly what you are looking for. He also tells the story from his perspective as the prosecutor preparing for the trial and the challenges he faced. I found that part fascinating.


I've just read The Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale (it's just been filmed for UK television).

It's an absolutely amazing true story of a crime committed in a country house in Wiltshire in 1860. It was the first locked-house mystery and it gripped Victorian England for five years. It featured one of the first London detectives, Jack Whicher, who was called in to try to solve the murder of a young boy. The case also inspired one of the first detective novels, Moonstone.

A truly extraordinary case.

Best, Robin


I can only imagine how chilling that must have been, Morgan.


As far as True Crime goes, two of the best I've read are written more like novels: IN COLD BLOOD and THE ONION FIELD. Both have beautiful writing and depth of emotion. I just finished LEOPOLD & LOEB: THE CRIME OF THE CENTURY. It was interesting, but it was more a recitation of facts than an indepth study. I was left feeling like the killers had been glorified and the victim given short shrift. I guess that's what happened in the actual case as well. I found the historical background interesting, including the fact that Clarence Darrow was the defense attorney. Robin, I'd be interested in reading THE SUSPICIONS OF MISTER WHICHER. I'll have to look it up.

I've read far more fictional crime stories than I have true ones, but the true stories always grip me because I want to know the WHY of it. Often the killers ARE  "charming" people---seemingly,  anyway.  (One of the characteristics of sociopaths, apparently---their ability to charm AND maniupulate others).   Ann Rule's book , "Stranger Beside Me,"  about Ted Bundy, is an unforgettable portrait of a serial killer by a policewoman who knew him, for a time,  as a friend. "Deadly Dose," the story of Anne Miller Kuntz, is also intense---WHY does this pretty, seemingly sweet  and ordinary wife and mother  and aids researched decide to poison her young husband, also a promising aids researcher? What are these people hiding from the rest of the world?   I want to know about the "side" of serial killers that they can successfully conceal  from so many---and why/how  they came to be that way. Often a question that in the end, is not really answerable.
I just thought about another one that I couldn't put down. It is a different type of true story, told from the perspective of a child as he grows up on the run with his father, one of America's Most Wanted. I highly recommend this book and reviewed it on my website, www.morganstjames-author.com. The name is "The Butterfly Garden--On the run with one of America's Most Wanted" by Chip St. Clair. Mr. St. Clair takes a horrible experience and presents it with such eloquence you simply don't want to put the book down!


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