Today, one of my favorite things to read about – crime. True crime. Fictional crime. Doesn’t matter. I have always been fascinated with mystery and crime. So here are my top ten nonfiction crime books.
- The Run of His Life by Jeffery Toobin. The OJ Simpson trial was the biggest thing in the news when I was in my first year of law school. Toobin reported on the trial. This book is, I think, the best one about the events that preceded the trial and of the trial itself.
- Ghettoside by Jill Leovy. Leovy, a reporter, follows an LAPD homicide detective who tries to solve the hardest murder cases – black on black killings in LA. The book is sad and frustrating and a must read.
- Five Days At Memorial by Sheri Fink. I hesitate to classify this as crime. But at the center of the book is the question of whether a crime was committed by a doctor in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, euthanizing patients. This book will make you mad and sad and frustrated.
- True Notebooks by Mark Salzman. He taught writing at a juvenile facility in Los Angeles. This book stayed with me for a very long time. Salzman is a gifted writer and he tells a compelling story about the status of our juvenile detention facilities.
- Devi’s Knot by Mara Leveritt. This is the story of the West Memphis 3. Damien Echols spent 19 years on death row in Arkansas for a crime he didn’t commit. Jesse Miskelly and Jason Baldwin were imprisoned for 19 years for a crime they didn’t commit – the gruesome murder of three boys. This book made me LIVID angry. Our justice system is broken and it needs to be fixed.
- A Good Month For Murder by Del Wilber. Wilber, a reporter (I see a pattern here…) followed a homicide unit in Maryland for a month. I loved this book. It talks about homicide detection as it actually is. The detectives are human and this book catches their idiosyncrasies and foibles so well.
- The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. Read this book and you will also believe that mass incarceration is the new Jim Crow in this country. A powerful and disturbing read.
- Homicide by David Simon. The book the spawned the show. If follows Baltimore City Detectives. Gritty and raw and rough. I love this book.
- All The President’s Men by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. The ultimate true crime book. I have read this book and seen the movie so many times, I know parts of it by heart. But that is the mark of a good book – wanting to read it again. This is a classic.
- Columbine by Dave Cullen. Full disclosure – Dave Cullen is my friend on Facebook. I have actually conversed with him about this book, albeit in comments and he wouldn’t know me from Adam if he bumped into me on the street. That having been said, whether I had spoken to him or not, this book should be required reading for every parent in America. After Columbine, we all asked, how could the parents not have known? This book answers how EVERYONE – teachers, administrators, cops, parents, etc – missed the signs. If you haven’t read this book, you need to read it.
Tomorrow – the lighter side of crime – fictional crime.