I am most certainly not the greatest hoarder of true crime reads, but I’ve read more than a dozen or so. Hence, I guess it’s not too premature for me to be stating the following observations.
Long before I got into this genre, I assumed that true crime was all about the crime itself: the crime, the criminal, the intent, the hunt, followed by justice (or lack thereof). Then in between there’s the essentials in solving the crime – confession, witnesses, evidence.
That’s all there is to it, right? Most people who are clueless about true crime would likely have made the same assumptions as I did.
But it’s beyond that. There’s the politicking involved in prosecuting a crime. The incompetency contributed by various departments which led to mistrials etc. Daylight robbery mistakes that no one seemed to be able to comprehend that a robbery was even committed. Red tapes and other idiotic bureaucracies. Some, literally, crime within an unsolved crime. How does that sound?
True crime is often penned for specific reasons.
First, injustice. For example, why wasn’t the killer caught earlier, what did we miss? Or, what did the prosecution fuck up this time? Or, how could such incompetence be avoided at all? Why did it have to be a trial by jury? Why was a plea bargain even considered? What the hell was the grand jury thinking? How were they even selected?
Second, lessons and learnings. Certain true crime reads are naturally essential reads for criminology studies. Otherwise, sure, spend all your time requesting for archives and wait for the document to be released so that you can drive all the way from your dorm room to collect them. We read to learn from the past, and crimes are the most natural evil that humans do unto another. Through reading true crime and absorbing the psychology aspect of it, we are not merely watching a CSI episode with a Law & Order rerun in the background.
Third, I don’t have a third. The above two is justifiable enough.
From Pablo Escobar, The Red Mansion, Tokyo Vice, Amanda Knox (fuck the media), Columbine, to Casey Anthony, these were events that breathed and exhaled evil around us. So, I don’t see why would certain people belittle true crime reads.
It’s not fiction, and it requires extensive research and intensive fact checking.
Heck, I’d even consider Heinrich Himmler a true crime read alongside history or historical biographies. Wouldn’t you?