Scary stories to read in October
Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction, and scarier too. First published in 1966, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote arguably birthed the true crime genre. Since then, we have witnessed an explosion of true crime interest across several forms of media – from books, magazines, movies and television shows, radio programs and podcasts. This month’s book recommendations focus on true crime, so grab a book and prepare for some real-life frights.
The Summer Wind: Thomas Capano and the Murder of Anne Marie Fahey by George Anastasia “is a story of the clash of two generations and two cultures, of the arrogance of power in a growing city, and of the decaying moral landscape of late-20th-century America,” states the back blurb.
Monster by Colorado author Steve Jackson is the telling of a vicious but charismatic psychopath’s frightening tryst across the country. Tom Luther was convicted of brutally beating and raping a young woman in Breckenridge, and after 10 years in prison, he was released more savage and dangerous than when he went in.
Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep is the story of “Reverend” Willie Maxwell and his insurance-driven murders across Alabama in the 1970s and of Harper Lee’s quest – and failure – to write a book about his life and trial.
The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century by Kirk Wallace Johnson is not a tale of murder but of the desecration of a rare collection of bird skins and feathers from the Tring Museum, part of the British Natural History Museum, and the dark side of Victorian salmon fly-tying using feathers from the most exotic birds in the world. Nearly 300 specimens were stolen in 2009 by a 20-year-old American student who made a fortune online before police caught up to him.
The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule is part autobiographical and part biographical about the friendship between Rule and Ted Bundy before and after his arrest. Originally published in 1980, four subsequent revisions and new publications were done, each including new information. A made for TV movie was produced in 2003 starring Barbara Hershey and Billy Campbell.
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson dives into the depravity of America’s first serial killer, H.H. Holmes as he swindled and killed several people during the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
The Fact of the Body: A Murder and a Memoir by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich “is a book not only about how the story of one crime was constructed – but about how we grapple with our own personal histories,” states the book blurb. Marzano-Lesnevich tells the story of convicted murderer Ricky Langley and how Marzano-Lesnevich’s own past colored her reaction to his case.
Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann sheds light on a tragedy within the Osage Nation. In the 1920s, several Osage people were murdered for their oil-rights profits. Grann weaves the birth of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) into this true story, as it was one of the FBI’s first cases. Martin Scorsese directed a film adaptation starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert DeNiro and Lily Gladstone, which is set to release October 20.
American Mother: The True Story of a Troubled Family, Motherhood, and the Cyanide Murders That Shook the World by Gregg Olsen was originally published under the title Bitter Almonds in 1995. Olsen tells the story of two families and two murders in Seattle in 1986 – forever linked by cyanide-tainted painkillers and the daughter who turned her mother in to federal authorities.
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara was the basis for the HBO docuseries by the same name and won several book-of-the-year awards in 2018. McNamara, a true crime journalist, doggedly researched and investigated the Golden State Killer cases and ultimately helped unmask the violent psychopath who preyed on victims in California for so many years.
By Celeste McNeil