True crime, it’s a fascination that chills the soul and yet is a guilty pleasure for many. While Halloween is about imaginary ghosts and monsters, true crime is about real monsters and the men and women who hunt them. I want to share a few of the books and television shows that I find both fascinating and interesting, hopefully you will too.
So in the spirit of Halloween…here we go!
One of my favorite shows to watch is, Homicide Hunter: Joe Kenda. Joe Kenda is a retired detective from Colorado Springs, Colorado. Homicide Hunter showcases Joe Kenda who recounts how he has solved various homicides. It’s Kenda’s narration that makes the show! He is sarcastic, witty, and sometimes shocking in how he tells his story. Joe Kenda is the person you want on your case if you’re a victim but not if he’s investigating a crime you’ve committed! This television show is a great way to see crime solving from a police perspective.
The First 48 follows real police officers interrogating suspects and conducting real murder investigations. While the viewer doesn’t see an entire interrogation, we do see enough to witness how police put pressure on suspects, how determined they are to solve a crime, and get justice for the victim and their family. Watching this show is a real eye-opener and made me a firm believer in having a lawyer present when being questioned!
We all want to be able to spot a serial killer or any other criminal so we can avoid them and stay away from danger! One of the appeals of true crime books is learning to understand why criminals, like serial killers, want to hunt, hurt, and kill.
Here are two books by former FBI profilers that I found to be both horrifying and interesting.
Mind Hunter is the story of John Douglas, who was an early FBI profiler who worked on several high-profile cases including the Atlanta child murders and Seattle’s Green River killings. This book details many of the crimes he worked on and discusses serial killers and their profiles. Mind Hunter shows the personal toll working on these types of crimes take on law enforcement; both their health and in their family life. The reader gets to see the role that FBI profilers play in helping local law enforcement. Profilers come in to look at crime scenes and any other information that has been collected and advise local law enforcement on what type of person they are looking for. They also provide feedback on the suspects they are currently investigating, and help develop ways to hunt for their suspect. A fascinating read!
Robert Ressler was also an early FBI profiler, and he explains in his book, Whoever Fights Monsters, how he actually went to various prisons and spent hundreds of hours interviewing serial killers finding out what traits they had in common. This information was used to create profiles that are in use today to profile criminals. Ressler discusses in detail what serial killers are like and how they can be profiled based on evidence left at the crime scene. These profiles are meant to be used by local law enforcement to help them tailor how they investigate a crime and hunt down a suspect or weed through the suspects they are investigating. Another chilling but captivating read!
Reading and watching these books and television shows can be difficult, unpleasant, and disturbing but what I’ve learned about crime, criminals, law enforcement, and victims makes it worthwhile. While I don’t enjoy the gruesomeness of horror movies, I do enjoy learning about real situations and real people and these television shows and books provide a true learning experience!