Criminology is such a huge and important topic that an entire genre of true crime has sprung up around it. You can find true crime stories in all formats (books, movies, documentaries, TV shows, websites, live plays, radio programs, games, etc). The topic is horrifying, entertaining, and comical all at once. It can leave you gasping for breath and then have you rolling on the floor laughing.
Many people enjoy a good scare – such as when you watch a scary movie or ride a scary ride. People know that they aren’t actually in danger, but they still get the adrenaline rush. When people read about true crime, it’s as close as they can get to the danger–without actually endangering themselves. At the same time they are usually learning (hopefully) what mistakes not to make should they ever encounter a similar real life situation. It is thrilling and educational at the same time.
The Fulton County Public Library usually does a true crime display around Halloween (a time when many delight in being scared).
One of the most famous true crime writers is Ann Rule.
Ann Rule was a police woman turned true crime writer and lecturer. She led an interesting life which you can read about on her bio page: Ann Rule Bio. Rule wrote 36 books and multiple magazine articles. I’ve come across many Ann Rule books in my library read through.
In my opinion, Ann Rule’s most chilling book is The Stranger Beside Me.
The reason I believe this book is the most haunting of all of the Rule books is because it is personal to Ann Rule. Ted Bundy (yes, the serial killer) and Ann Rule worked together at a Seattle crisis prevention center. Ann considered Ted Bundy a personal friend and spent many hours with him, even entertaining him in her home. Of course, at the time Ann had no idea what Ted was capable of doing. After all, their job at the crisis center was to save lives. Ann and Ted were friends for 18 years. I also find it rather chilling to think that Bundy was a trusted coworker. How well do we know our coworkers? I feel sure that Ann Rule had many occasions in which she thought about how close she (or her daughter) was to being a Bundy victim.
There is also a movie The Stranger Beside Me which is based on the book by the same name. It was a made for TV movie in 2003, so it’s not too scary for most people to watch.
Other books written by Ann Rule are about true crimes that she investigated beyond the newspaper headlines. Ann Rule was always interested in trying to figure out the “whys” behind the criminal act.
While Ann Rule’s books deal with very serious crimes, the next book America’s Dumbest Criminals by Daniel Butler, Leland Gregory, and Alan Ray deals with the more ridiculous and rather comical stories of crime.
This book contains several very short stories of true but seriously dull witted criminals. This book is a quick, entertaining, and humorous read. There was a TV show by the same name which is now available on YouTube which can be quite hilarious.
Are you a True Crime Reader? Do you prefer the more serious stories or do you enjoy the humorous ones?