For True Crime Fans at the Jamestown Library

Are you interested in true crime? Do you follow noteworthy cases in the news, watch crime investigation dramas, or read true crime accounts? Join us at Jamestown Community Library monthly for our informal discussion group.

On April 7th, former Sheriff Patrick Haley will speak about his book The Danes Murders, in which he details the crimes and investigation surrounding the 1984 killing of three members of the Danes family in Lees Creek, Clinton County.

This March also features our adult book club selection In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote. The discussion will take place on March 30th. Copies of the book are available for checkout at the library if you’d like to join us.

True crime as a genre has its own interesting history. This body of writing has not always been respected as “literature” and has been regarded by some as “trashy.” It has become increasingly popular with readers, however, and has helped spawn several popular television series which focus on crime scene investigation.

Capote’s book is regarded as the first “nonfiction novel.” It’s listed as number 84 on The Guardian’s list of the 100 Best Novels, while the Modern Library lists it as number 96 on its list of the list of the 100 best nonfiction books. In Cold Blood is an account of the 1959 murder of the Clutter family in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, by two drifters who had been told that the Clutter family home held a safe full of cash. Eventually captured, the perpetrators were hanged at the Kansas State Prison in April 1965. Regarded as classic of the genre, this true story written in the style of a novel has caused considerable debate as to what constitutes a factual account or a fictionalization. Another amazingly popular book in our collection, John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, has also been regarded critically for the same reasons.


Find these recommended picks (and more) in the Jamestown library collection:

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, by John Berendt: Woven around the murder trial of antique collector Jim Williams, the book provides a fascinating look at the city of Savannah and some of the unique characters in residence during the 1980s. The book spent 216 weeks on the bestseller lists when published in 1994. Its popularity gave Savannah tourism a much-needed shot in the arm, so much so that several “Midnight in the Garden” tours remain available to visitors today. A film adaptation of the book starring Kevin Spacey and John Cusack is also available.

Helter Skelter, by Vincent Bugliosi: The bestselling true crime book of all time, written by the prosecuting attorney who convicted Charles Manson and his followers. The Manson “family,” as they became known, murdered actress Sharon Tate and friends at her home then murdered Rosemary and Leno LaBianca two nights later. Bugliosi describes the crimes and the bizarre circus-like atmosphere created around the trial of Manson and his followers.

In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote: Often credited with being the first modern true crime book, Capote’s “nonfiction novel” is now considered a classic. It describes the murders of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas, and the subsequent investigation. The killers were eventually arrested and executed. Capote researched the book at the scene of the crimes in Holcomb, and interviewed the killers. The story was made into a 1967 feature film starring Scott Wilson and Robert Blake.

The Danes Murders, by Patrick Haley: The author, former Sheriff of Clinton County, documents the case and investigation surrounding the 1984 killings of the Danes family in Lees Creek near Wilmington, Ohio.

The Complete History of Jack the Ripper, by Phillip Sugden: Comprehensive volume covering the most famous historical unsolved murder case—the London East End “Ripper murders” of 1888.

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