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The Library Lowdown

The Elm Grove Public Library, established and supported by the citizens of Elm Grove, provides access to library facilities, resources, and services necessary to meet the informational, educational, and leisure needs of all the people in the community. It assembles, preserves, and administers an organized collection of print and non-print materials to fill those needs. It places special emphasis on stimulating interest and life-long appreciation for reading and learning among children and adults alike

Why don’t more people read True Crime?

This is a good question. In the hierarchy of genre popularity, it often seems that True Crime is overlooked, in some cases downright ignored. At first consideration, this truth makes a degree of sense. Some True Crime titles contain recountings of unfathomable crimes and horrors, often right down to the grisly details. This can often leave readers unsettled, and thus scrambling for lighter fare. Additionally, from a public library standpoint, most True Crime titles are located in the 364 section of the library. And while True Crime can technically be classified as a social science, this placement in the library stacks puts these titles on a venerable island, stuck between public administration and education, meaning they can be easily overlooked by browsers in the stacks simply looking for an interesting read. It a lot of ways it makes sense that True Crime is not more widely read, other than by readers devoutly dedicated to the genre, readers do not always think to try it or come across it. In other ways though, perhaps it does not make sense.

It is an undeniable fact that two of the most popular genres of books from any standpoint are Crime Fiction and History, broadly speaking. Every day at libraries and bookstores across the country, fast-paced and thrilling Crime Fiction titles by the likes of popular authors such as James Patterson, Stieg Larsson, and Michael Connelly fly off the shelves as readers voraciously tear through them, while history books in general have always been very popular with a wide array of readers. If one considers the genre of True Crime, defined by Neal Wyatt as being “concerned with the actions and motivations of criminals and the investigators who try to stop them,” it can be reasoned that these books combine major elements of both of the previously mentioned popular genres. A great True Crime book can read like the most thrilling Crime Fiction title, with the added element of having actually happened (history), while also sprinkling in elements of Biography, Psychology, Forensic Science, and Law. While no two True Crime titles will necessarily read alike, the genre itself can in many cases encapsulate a complete reading experience that covers many bases. So why not give it a try?

Here are a few True Crime classics available to be checked out at the Elm Grove Library. To reserve a particular title, simply click on the book cover below and enter your library card information to place a hold. For more great titles, stop into the library and peruse the stacks yourself, you’re almost certain to find something that fits your interests. If you have any questions, or to place a hold over the phone, call the Elm Grove Library at (262) 782-6717.    

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America, by Erik Larson

The devil in the white city : murder, magic, and madness at the fair that changed America

 Two men, each handsome and unusually adept at his chosen work, embodied an element of the great dynamic that characterized America's rush toward the twentieth century. The architect was Daniel Hudson Burnham, the fair's brilliant director of works and the builder of many of the country's most important structures, including the Flatiron Building in New York and Union Station in Washington, D.C. The murderer was Henry H. Holmes, a young doctor who, in a malign parody of the White City, built his "World's Fair Hotel" just west of the fairgrounds-- a torture palace complete with dissection table, gas chamber, and 3,000-degree crematorium. Burnham overcame tremendous obstacles and tragedies as he organized the talents of Frederick Law Olmsted, Charles McKim, Louis Sullivan, and others to transform swampy Jackson Park into the White City, while Holmes used the attraction of the great fair and his own satanic charms to lure scores of young women to their deaths. What makes the story all the more chilling is that Holmes really lived, walking the grounds of that dream city by the lake.   

Blue Blood, by Edward Conlon

Blue blood

Edward Conlon's Blue Blood is an ambitious and extraordinary work of nonfiction about what it means to protect, to serve, and to defend among the ranks of New York's finest. Told by a fourth generation NYPD, this is an anecdotal history of New York as experienced through its police force, and depicts a portrait of the teeming street life of the city in all its horror and splendor. It is a story about police politics, fathers and sons, partners who become brothers, old ghosts and undying legacies.  Conlon joined the NYPD during the Giuliani administration, when New York City saw its crime rate plummet but also witnessed events that would alter the city, its inhabitants, and its police force forever: polarizing racial cases, the proliferation of the drug trade, and the events of September 11, 2001, and its aftermath. Conlon captures the detail of the landscape, the ironies and rhythms of natural speech, the tragic and the marvelous, firsthand, day after day. A New York Times Notable Book and Finalist for The National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction.

Never Enough, by Joe McGinniss

Never enough

At thirty-nine, Nancy Kissel had it all: glamour, gusto, garishly flaunted wealth, and the royal lifestyle of the expatriate wife. Not to mention three young children and what a friend described as "the best marriage in the universe."
That marriage -- to Merrill Lynch and former Goldman Sachs investment banker Robert Kissel -- ended abruptly one November night in 2003 in the bedroom of their luxury apartment high above Hong Kong's glittering Victoria Harbour.
Why? Hong Kong prosecutors, who charged Nancy with murder, said she wanted to inherit Rob's millions and start a new life with a blue-collar lover who lived in a New Hampshire trailer park.
She said she'd killed in self-defense while fighting for her life against an abusive, cocaine-addicted husband who had forced her for years to submit to his brutal sexual demands.
Her 2005 trial, lasting for months and rich in lurid detail, captivated Hong Kong's expatriate community and attracted attention worldwide. Less than a year after the jury of seven Chinese citizens returned its unexpected verdict, Rob's brother, Andrew, a Connecticut real estate tycoon facing prison for fraud and embezzlement, was also found dead: stabbed in the back in the basement of his multimillion-dollar Greenwich mansion by person or persons unknown.
Never Enough is the harrowing true story of these two brothers, Robert and Andrew Kissel, who grew up wanting to own the world but instead wound up murdered half a world apart; and of Nancy Kissel, a riddle wrapped inside an enigma, a modern American woman for whom having it all might not have been enough.

The Man in the Rockefeller Suit: The Astonishing Rise and Spectacular Fall of a Serial Imposter, by Mark Seal

The man in the Rockefeller suit : the astonishing rise and spectacular fall of a serial imposter

This shocking expose goes behind the headlines to uncover the true story of Clark Rockefeller, wealthy scion of a great American family, who kidnapped his own daughter and vanished. The police and FBI were baffled. Tips poured in, but every lead was a dead end … because “Clark Rockefeller” did not exist. In a gripping work of investigative journalism, Mark Seal reveals how German native Christian Gerhartsreiter came to the United States, where he stepped in and out of identities for decades, eventually posing as a Rockefeller for twelve years, married to a wealthy woman who had no idea who he really was. Fast-paced, hypnotic, and now updated with more stunning details, The Man in the Rockefeller Suit chillingly reveals the audacity and cunning of a shape-shifting con man.

A Death in Belmont, by Sebastian Junger

A death in Belmont

A fatal collision of three lives in the most intriguing and original crime story since In Cold Blood.
In the spring of 1963, the quiet suburb of Belmont, Massachusetts, is rocked by a shocking sex murder that exactly fits the pattern of the Boston Strangler. Sensing a break in the case that has paralyzed the city of Boston, the police track down a black man, Roy Smith, who cleaned the victim's house that day and left a receipt with his name on the kitchen counter. Smith is hastily convicted of the Belmont murder, but the terror of the Strangler continues.
On the day of the murder, Albert DeSalvo—the man who would eventually confess in lurid detail to the Strangler's crimes—is also in Belmont, working as a carpenter at the Jungers' home. In this spare, powerful narrative, Sebastian Junger chronicles three lives that collide—and ultimately are destroyed—in the vortex of one of the first and most controversial serial murder cases in America.

Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34, by Bryan Burrough

Public enemies : America's greatest crime wave and the birth of the FBI, 1933-34

Public Enemies is the story of the most spectacular crime wave in American history, the two-year battle between the young J. Edgar Hoover and his FBI, and an assortment of criminals who became national icons: John Dillinger, Machine Gun Kelly, Bonnie and Clyde, Baby Face Nelson, Pretty Boy Floyd, and the Barkers. In an epic feat of storytelling, Burrough reveals a web of interconnections within the vast American underworld and demonstrates how Hoover's G-men secured the FBI's rise to power.

Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker, by Kevin Mitnick

Ghost in the wires : my adventures as the world's most wanted hacker

Kevin Mitnick was the most elusive computer break-in artist in history. He accessed computers and networks at the world's biggest companies--and however fast the authorities were, Mitnick was faster, sprinting through phone switches, computer systems, and cellular networks. He spent years skipping through cyberspace, always three steps ahead and labeled unstoppable. But for Kevin, hacking wasn't just about technological feats-it was an old fashioned confidence game that required guile and deception to trick the unwitting out of valuable information. Driven by a powerful urge to accomplish the impossible, Mitnick bypassed security systems and blazed into major organizations including Motorola, Sun Microsystems, and Pacific Bell. But as the FBI's net began to tighten, Kevin went on the run, engaging in an increasingly sophisticated cat and mouse game that led through false identities, a host of cities, plenty of close shaves, and an ultimate showdown with the Feds, who would stop at nothing to bring him down.

The Inheritor’s Powder: A Tale of Arsenic, Murder, and the New Forensic Science, by Sandra Hempel

The inheritor's powder : a tale of arsenic, murder, and the new forensic science

In the first half of the nineteenth century, an epidemic swept Europe: arsenic poisoning. Available at any corner shop for a few pence, arsenic was so frequently used by potential beneficiaries of wills that it was nicknamed “the inheritor’s powder.” But it was difficult to prove that a victim had been poisoned, let alone to identify the contaminated food or drink since arsenic was tasteless. Then came a riveting case. On the morning of Saturday, November 2, 1833, the Bodle household sat down to their morning breakfast. That evening, the local doctor John Butler received an urgent summons: the family and their servants had collapsed and were seriously ill. Three days later, after lingering in agony, wealthy George Bodle died in his bed at his farmhouse in Plumstead, leaving behind several heirs, including a son and grandson—both of whom were not on the best of terms with the family patriarch. The investigation, which gained international attention, brought together a colorful cast of characters: bickering relatives; a drunken, bumbling policeman; and James Marsh, an unknown but brilliant chemist who, assigned the Bodle case, attempted to create a test that could accurately pinpoint the presence of arsenic. In doing so, however, he would cause as many problems as he solved. Were innocent men and women now going to the gallows? And would George Bodle’s killer be found?

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