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True Crime
An American Anthology

by Harold Schecter

      True Crime is a 900 page history of American crime writing.  This weighty (2+lbs.) book encompasses writers from Cotton Mather (an execution sermon) to Dominic Dunne (of present day Court TV).  The stories vary in length from a few pages to novella length.  The motivations for the crimes have always remained the same through the years: greed, lust, evil, stupidity, passion.

One of the most fascinating chapters is the real life account of Mrs. Ruth Snyder and her lover, Henry Judd Grey, a corset salesman.  They killed her husband for his insurance money and thought they had a perfect crime.  They wound up in Sing Sing's electric chair. Damon Runyon recounted the case, which inspired the movie Double Indemnity.

Other cases in American crime feature Charles Manson, the Lindberg kidnapping, Garfield's assassination, Leopold and Loeb, but also feature ordinary people.

The editor prefaces each chapter with a brief discussion of the author and the subject.

This is a must for any aficionado of this genre.  With 900 pages there is a wealth of material to keep one reading for days to come.

Highly recommended.

The Book

Library of America
September 16, 2008
1598530313 / 978159853035
True Crime
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The Reviewer

Barbara Buhrer
Reviewed 2008
© 2008