CBR Bingo – Free!
I was happy to receive my first free book through NetGalley. The review that follows was not influenced by any obligation to them.
The Greatest True Crime Stories Ever Told, edited by Tom McCarthy, is an easy-to-read compilation of true crime stories, some dating back as far as the 1800s. I’ve read a lot of true crime, so some of the stories were familiar, but there were others that were new to me. Each chapter is written by a different author.
The stories are well told and full of lively descriptions. The chapters have different ways of recounting the crimes: there are first-hand accounts from detectives, court transcripts, newspaper accounts, the criminal’s own words, and time period context. Some accounts are written by contemporaries of the time. The writing in general is strong and vividly conveys the crimes without being exploitive. There are a fair number of chapters about famous robberies/heists; one has some stereotypes I wasn’t thrilled about, but overall the book avoids caricatures.
Some accounts really stood out. I liked the chapter on the “merry murderesses” of Chicago (at least one story was the inspiration for the musical Chicago, which by the way I’ve seen, and which by the way is awesome). There is a heart-pounding account of men trying to capture a mysterious trapper in the Arctic Circle and a good chapter on Lizzie Borden. Another story I liked, but which also caused frustration, was about a criminal who was a genius at stealing from banks. It had the feeling of a true caper, and was very well written. However, that chapter ends just when it was getting more interesting, which baffled me. I was completely caught up in the robbery, expecting more information about the robber’s next even bigger escapade and why his life was cut short, and the chapter abruptly ends. A very strange decision for a true crime book! There is another chapter that’s even worse. Not every story is unresolved, but enough were to frustrate me.
Although this might sound a little weird for a true crime book, all in all, I found it very entertaining. It’s a good book for those new to true crime, as it covers a variety of cases across different time periods. It’s a quick, interesting read for long-time buffs as well.