Posts Tagged ‘true crime’

The Lurid Truth Behind True Crime Comics

October 28th, 2011 No comments

In 1942 Lev Gleason, a small publishing firm, released a new true crime comic called Crime Does Not Pay, co-edited, written and illustrated by Bob Wood and Charles Biro. The stories recounted actual crimes perpetrated by many of the day’s high profile mobsters including “Baby Face” Nelson and Charles “Lucky” Luciano. They were meant to be morality tales, though the criminals’ violent escapades and erotic encounters were thrillingly detailed, often to dramatic effect, and the moral of the story was usually relegated to a brief concluding paragraph. The mixture of sex and violence was an automatic hit with the American public and circulation of the comics quickly rose into the millions. The editors’ enthusiasm for lurid material, put Crime Does Not Pay on the censors’ radar, and was a contributing factor in the passing of the Comics Code in 1954. According to an article in the Star Tribune, these new, tighter restrictions on comic book content quickly put Crime Does Not Pay and all its imitators out of business. Read more…


New Release: Skyjack

August 15th, 2011 No comments

By Geoffrey Gray
Crown | 320pgs
Release Date: August 9, 2011

An innocuous man, who boarded a Northwest Orient flight from Portland to Seattle under the name Dan Cooper on November 24, 1971, perpetrated the most daring and mysterious hijacking in American history. Twenty-eight short minutes into the flight Cooper passed a note to a flight attendant demanding $200,000 and threatening to blow up the plane with a bomb he carried in his briefcase. On landing in Seattle, the passengers were released in exchange for the cash and parachutes and the plane once again took off. At an altitude of 10,000 feet, Cooper, later reported erroneously in the media as D.B. Cooper, parachuted out over a dark forest in the Pacific Northwest, and disappeared without a trace. Reporter Geoffrey Gray attempts to shed new light on the infamous crime and explore new leads in Skyjack: The Hunt for D.B. Cooper. With thorough research, firsthand interviews and unprecedented access to Cooper’s FBI file, Gray launches his own investigation and considers an array of suspects, some credible, others outlandish. Read more…


New Hansen Novel Based on Real Jazz Age Scandal

August 8th, 2011 1 comment

Acclaimed author Ron Hansen uses the salacious details of the 1927 Snyder-Gray homicide case for the basis of his new novel A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion (Scribner, 256pgs). Mixing historical fact with fictionalized dialogue, he spins a titillating tale of lust, murder and human tragedy. A chance meeting of stylish lingerie salesman Judd Gray and oversexed housewife Ruth Snyder in a Manhattan diner, sparks a torrid, secret affair. The wild and vengeful Ruth wants not only to be free of her husband Albert, but wants him dead, and uses her sensual wiles to manipulate Judd into executing her plan. The police investigation and the murder trial that follows reveal the ruinous hold Ruth has on Judd and his inability to escape the “death spiral” the two have created. In the end both must face the harsh consequences of their cruel actions. Read more…


Murder and Scandal in the Gilded Age

September 10th, 2010 No comments

51R1KKsoqCL._SL160_Library of America editor in chief Geoffrey O’Brien mines a trove of historical records and documents to illustrate the real-life events surrounding the 1873 murder of Mansfield Walworth in The Fall of the House of Walworth: A Tale of Madness and Murder in Gilded Age America (Henry Holt, 337 pgs). During the summer of 1873, Mansfield was shot by his 18-year old son, Frank, in a hotel room in New York city. Frank immediately surrendered to police and a murder trial followed amid a flurry of media attention. The burning interest of the press was stoked by the prominence of the Walworth family in the city of Saratoga Springs, NY. Mansfield’s father, Judge Walworth, had built his fortune and cemented the family’s elite status in the courtroom, but Mansfield’s erratic and violent behavior towards his wife and children, and the homicidal actions of his son tarnished the family name. Mansfield had long abused his wife, Ellen, and even after they divorced, wrote her letters threatening physical harm and even death. O’Brien argues that Frank killed his father in order to protect his mother from further harm.
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Flawed Police Work Revealed in “Finding Chandra”

May 26th, 2010 2 comments
Chandra Levy's remains were found in Rock Creek Park, about a year after she disappeared.

Chandra Levy's remains were found in Rock Creek Park, about a year after she disappeared.

When Washington intern, Chandra Levy, went missing on May 1, 2001, the news of her disappearance and revelations of an illicit affair with California congressman Gary Condit churned up a media circus. Police and press instantly seized on Condit as a likely suspect, but with the attacks on September 11 several months later, media interest waned and the police investigation stalled. Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters Scott Higham and Sari Horwitz launched a fresh journalistic investigation into the disappearance in 2007, and uncovered several key errors in the handling of the case. A book chronicling their discoveries, Finding Chandra: A True Washington Murder Mystery (Scribner, 287pgs) was released this month, and is based on their series of articles published in 2008 by The Washington Post.
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Book Review: Citizen Jane

January 4th, 2010 2 comments

51jmqMvo41L._SL160_By James Dalessandro
Morgan James Publishing ©2009 | 212pgs
Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Scott D. Imamura

Citizen Jane is a sort of misleading title for this book. When I first picked up the book, I thought it was a story of the first successful newspaper company owned by a woman (female version of Citizen Kane). As I perused the pages, I noticed it was a true crime story. Apparently, the title was a play on words.  Non-fiction reading is my forte, plus it was a true crime book. So, this book got me interested there afterward.

After reading the back cover, you get a clue from the author on “whodunit.” Yes, this a who-done-it book; but, not in the style of your usual Sherlock Holmes murder mystery novel.
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New Release: The Murder of King Tut: The Plot to Kill the Child King

October 5th, 2009 No comments

516j0MY7daL._SL160_By James Patterson and Martin Dugard
Little, Brown and Company | Hardback  352pgs
Release Date: September 28, 2009

A new true crime story centered on the world’s most famous mummy arrives just in time for Halloween. Best-selling authors Patterson and Dugard pore over piles of forensic evidence, archaeologist files and ancient myths to discover a new theory about the murder of King Tut. The Murder of King Tut: The Plot to Kill the Child King – A Nonfiction Thriller is told through three interweaving storylines: the authors’ forensic research, archaeologist Howard Carter’s discovery of Tut’s tomb, and The Boy King’s brief reign in Ancient Egypt.

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