LAW & CRIME

The Best New True Crime Stories: Small Towns

Mango. Jul. 2020. 232p. ed. by ed. by Mitzi Szereto. ISBN 9781642502800. pap. $18.95. CRIME
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In this anthology, edited by Szereto (Florida Gothic), international writers focus on the impact of crime on close-knit communities. Many stories illustrate the intergenerational effects and lasting trauma of chronic poverty and sexual abuse. Stories such as Szereto’s “I Kill for God,” about Isaac Zamora, who murdered six people in 2008 in Skagit County, WA, emphasize the failure of mental health-care systems to diagnose and treat adequately those with psychological disorders. Exploring a tragic case in Posorja, Ecuador, Tom Larsen laments that environments marked by endemic corruption often give rise to vigilante justice. Anthony Ferguson’s profile of Snowtown, Australia, where in 1999 four killers murdered 12 victims, examines the phenomenon of “dark tourism,” in which small towns where murders have occurred develop a macabre reputation that makes community healing difficult. Joe Turner’s account of German cannibal and serial killer Armin Meiwes is gruesome, definitely not for the squeamish.
VERDICT Given the range of crimes, locales, time periods, and writing styles, this collection is uneven and the analyses often feel pat, if not absent altogether. For hard-core true crime fans only.

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