The True Crime File: Serial Killings, Famous Kidnappings, Great Cons, Survivors and Their Stories, Forensics, and More

Workman May 2022. 400p. ed. by Kim Daly. ISBN 9781523514113. pap. $15.95. CRIME
Killers, con artists, and thieves—as well as their fortunate survivors—are featured in this true crime compendium. This expanded version of the publisher’s A Year of True Crime Page-a-Day Calendar encapsulates the crimes of Charles Manson, John Wayne Gacy, and the Zodiac Killer, among others, with eye-catching layouts and illustrations. Editor Daly includes quizzes, book and film recommendations, and forays into criminology and forensics. Despite the subject matter, the book largely avoids gruesome description, and the prose is never lurid. An entry on Lorena Bobbitt, who made headlines in 1993 when she severed her husband’s penis, includes a discussion of the physical and sexual abuse she suffered—a sharp contrast to the way media covered the case at the time—and the book’s introduction lists hotlines and other resources for readers who may find themselves at risk of abuse or harm. The tone is also noteworthy—avoiding victim blaming and adopting preferred terms for marginalized people. While some subjects receive expanded coverage, most of the entries run one to two pages, reaffirming the breezy feel of a calendar.
VERDICT The scope of Daly’s coverage is commendable even if the format prevents her from tackling any topic in depth. A great entry point for those exploring true crime.
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