Denton: First You Have a Little and Then You Have a Lotta

I don’t feel serious at all, so in the spirit of April fun, here are some pages, some press clippings that appeared in the Denton Record-Chronicle from years past; they were pasted into a scrapbook and lived in the City Manager’s Office for decades. This was one of the ways City Hall used to keep track of City history: a designated person would read the paper every day, cut everything out, and affix the articles into the scrapbook using rubber cement. The Library inherited many of these scrapbooks some years ago and here they sit in the Special Collections Department which you are free to look at – if you ever have time to take a gander. I like their chronological format and the ease of the turning page which doesn’t require me to look very hard for what comes next.

And yes, the theme of this post does reflect a criminal nature. The one below is not quite of the Darwin Award caliber, but it seems to me that if you’re going to rob a bank, you shouldn’t wear a fake mustache (they always fall off).  Call it a portent, if you will. They also used a pillowcase, a favorite method of many a cartoon character, but a little bulky. I wonder it had flowers on it, the article does not mention that.

Has anyone taken statistics on the favorite wardrobe and accessories of robbers, I wonder?

Awesome headline #1: Shotgun Power Stops Drug Theft

I like this particular article not only because the person was stealing a television (which is no laughing matter as they used to weigh a ton) and carrying a pillowcase (!) filled with drugs, but because this phrase was used, “The potential power of a sawed-off shotgun prevailed this morning on a drug burglar.”

An Exciting Car Chase Through Denton:

Favorite phrase: “flushing two of the three from around a Coca-Cola machine.”

Cool Technology! With the increase in crime came the need for more modern technology – which Denton delivered:

I had no idea this kind of technology was available in 1970.

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I’m ashamed to say that I have at times enjoyed the police blotter when the stories were funny. There is always the sobering human factor involved that makes it not-so-funny, although a good reporter can artfully soften the blow and make it more laughable.

Looking at 1970 made me wonder how much Denton has changed in terms of crime.  In 1968, Denton had a population of 39,846 and 970 criminal offenses. According to the Department of Public Safety’s website, Denton had 3,412 criminal offenses for the year 2015 and a population of 131,194.

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~Leslie Couture, Special Collections Department

Texas Library Association Lariat Reading List 2017

Lariat Logo

Exciting news for adult readers who are looking for titles that are a pleasure to read.  The Texas Library Association has a committee dedicated to putting together a list of outstanding fiction.  Each year the committee puts together a list of titles that merit special attention for adult readers.  These are book that have been published within the past 2 years.  The current list features titles from 2015-2016.  Readers are able to view previous lists dating back to 2009.

The Lariat Adult Fiction Reading List was started in 2008 when Corinne Hill approached TLA to start a list for adults that would be a “pleasure to read.”  Former TLA President, Melody Kelly, bestowed the name, “Lariat.”  The Lariat Task Force was started on April 3, 2009.  Since then, the selection of 25 outstanding fiction titles of the year have been carried out in various ways.

Current Titles Include

A Gentleman in Moscow~Towles, Amor
Charming Russian aristocrat Count Alexander Rostov is sentenced to lifetime house arrest in the Metropol Hotel near the Kremlin in the 1920s.

All the Missing Girls~Miranda, Megan
Written in reverse chronological order, All the Missing Girls follows narrator Nicolette Farrell, who returns to her hometown of Cooley Ridge, North Carolina, and unwittingly opens a box of secrets that were carefully hidden ten years ago when her best friend went missing at a local fair.

Another Brooklyn~Woodson, Jacqueline
In this coming-of-age story, August and her group of friends navigate growing up in Brooklyn during a turbulent decade.

Aurora~Robinson, Kim Stanley
Generations after a colony ship has left earth to settle the new home of Aurora, the passengers find themselves forced to reconsider their mission.

Be Frank with Me~Johnson, Julia Claiborne
Alice is sent by M. M. Banning’s publisher to handle the reclusive author’s personal affairs and brilliant but eccentric son Frank so that the author can concentrate on finishing her long-awaited second novel.

Binti~Okorafor, Nnedi
For Binti to claim her scholarship at the intergalactic Oomza University far from her Himba family on Earth, she steals away at night, only to find that her dreams will come with a high cost.

Challenger Deep~Shusterman, Neal
High school student Caden Bosch struggles with the alternate pain and allure of mental illness that is illustrated by his forays into the Marianas Trench.

Dark Matter~Crouch, Blake
Scientist Jason Dessen’s world is stolen from him, and he must travel through the multiverse to find a way back to his wife, son, and life.

The Forgotten Room~White, Karen, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig
A forgotten room and the secrets it holds connect three generations of working class women in 20th century New York City.

Good Morning, Midnight~Brooks-Dalton, Lily
When catastrophe strikes, aging astronomer Augustine and the mysterious Iris live in isolation at a research post in the Arctic.  At the same time, Mission Specialist Sullivan and her crew attempt to return home after a journey to Jupiter.

Here Comes the Sun~Dennis-Benn, Nicole
Margot works at a resort in Jamaica to help send her sister Thandi to a good school.  As Margot tries to get ahead, she finds herself falling into illicit trades that she must keep from her family and the woman she loves.

Homegoing~Gyasi, Yaa
Beginning in 18th century Gold Coast, Homegoing follows several generations of two branches of a family tree.  One branch remains in Africa while the other is sold to the slave trade in America.  Both tackle issues of slavery, colonialism, and heritage.

I Let You Go~Mackintosh, Clare
Jenna Gray’s life changes in the blink of an eye following a horrible accident.  She moves to a remote cottage in hopes of starting a new life, but the nightmares won’t stop, and she is soon forced to face her past.

I’m Thinking of Ending Things~Reid, Iain
Jake takes his girlfriend to meet his parents, but nothing feels quite right.  Her apprehension quickly escalates to fear as Jake’s behavior becomes less and less predictable.

Last Days of Night~Moore, Graham
The struggle for control of, credit for, and innovation in the race for electrical dominance is told through the eyes of Paul Cravath, the lawyer hired by George Westinghouse for suits between him and Thomas Edison.

Lily and the Octopus~Rowley, Steven
Ted and his dachshund Lily are best friends.  They just “get” each other.  When the tumorous “Octopus” appears, Ted resolves to defeat it.

Midnight Sun~Nesbo, Jo
On the run after betraying Oslo’s most notorious criminal “The Fisherman,” Jon hides in a small, insular town north of the Arctic Circle where he is confronted by a taciturn widow, a chatty boy, and the mistakes of his past.

The Moon in the Palace~Randel, Weina Dai
With intelligence and resourcefulness, Mei navigates the challenges of love, loyalty, and rivalry in the Emperor’s court in ancient China.

My Name is Lucy Barton~Strout, Elizabeth
In 1980’s New York, Lucy’s emotionally detached mother visits her while she recovers from surgery and leads them both to think about their relationship and how to reconcile the past.

News of the World~Jiles, Paulette
Set in 1870, an aging itinerant news reader is tasked with returning a resistant, white child kidnapped by the Kiowa nation back to her family near San Antonio, Texas.

The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin~Knipper, Stephanie
On a commercial flower farm in Kentucky, themes of family, loss, forgiveness, sacrifice, and miracles are explored through the actions of Antoinette, her family, and her unusual condition.

The Short Drop~FitzSimmons, Matthew
Gibson Vaughn’s childhood friend Suzanne disappeared without a trace when she was 14.  Now that her father is poised to be elected the next U.S. President, Gibson tries to find out what happened to her by using his unique skills as a hacker and former Marine.

Sleeping Giants~Neuvel, Sylvain
A girl falls down a hole and into a giant hand made of an alien material.  A covert investigation is triggered to explain and explore the hand’s purpose in this sci-fi thriller.

Time of Departure~Schofield, Douglas
Claire is the youngest female Florida State Prosecutor to be promoted to Felony Division Chief.  When a road construction crew uncovers the skeletal remains of two women, Claire reopens a 30-year-old case involving a string of unsolved abductions that are strangely tied to her past.

What She Knew~Macmillan, Gilly
Rachel’s son is missing.  The longer the investigation continues, the more she realizes the dangers posed by people she thought she could trust.

A Gentleman in Moscow      All the Missing Girls      Another Brooklyn        Aurora        Be Frank With Me

Binti        Challenger Deep      Dark Matter      The Forgotten Room     Good Morning, Midnight

Here Comes the Sun      Homegoing     I Let You Go       I'm Thinking of Ending Things      Last Days of Night

Lily and the Octopus       Midnight Sun      The Moon in the Palace       My Name Is Lucy Barton     News of the World

The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin       The Short Drop     Sleeping Giants        Time of Departure        What She Knew

Reka Reynolds
Emily Fowler Central Library

Death & Dessert

How do you choose the books you read? Is it the characters? Cover art? Setting? I bet it’s the latest offering from your favorite author. The past 9 years I have hosted a mystery book club called “Death & Dessert” at the Denton Public Library. We have been as many as 17 and as few as four. In our book club, we read mysteries. To narrow that down, we choose a type of mystery each month and each person is free to choose whatever book they like that fits into the chosen type. We might read mysteries from Scandinavia one month, and books that feature cooking the next. At each meeting, each member shares a little about the book they chose. In this way, we get exposure to many, many authors, a great benefit for voracious readers always on the lookout for a new favorite.

I am particularly interested in why we read what we do. For instance, mystery readers are drawn to tidy endings. Mystery solved, bad guy caught. Heaven. What happens in between varies wildly. My current obsession is with The Detection Club, an English club made up of mystery writers, established somewhere along 1931. Every so often the Club will write a compilation work created by several of the members. Each book is written according to a unique method, and although the subject is grim, (murder!) the fun that these writers had creating their contributions leaks out around the pages.

I have learned about all the Detection Club members, but my favorites are alas, no longer with us, including Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, and others from those early years. The club persists today however, and are still inviting curious readers to share the fun. The most recent offering is “The Sinking Admiral” edited by current club president, Simon Brett. It is worth noting the very first book the Detection Club published eighty-five years ago was titled “The Floating Admiral” and yes, I have read it.

The Sinking Admiral

You can find the Sinking Admiral now at Emily Fowler Central Library. Take a moment to think about the titles you choose. What appeals to you? If you think you would like to hear more about the mysteries of life, consider this your invitation to come visit the Death & Dessert book club the first Thursday of each month at the Fowler library, 7 p.m. We have dessert too, but it’s the books that are delicious.

Terri Gibbs

Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe

Could it be that fans of spooky fiction are tiring of vampires and zombies? Probably not, but I have been struck by the number of recent young adult novels based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe. One  example of this is Bethany Griffith’s 2014 novel, The Fall, which reimagines Poe’s ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ through the eyes of Roderick Usher’s sickly twin sister Madeline. This isn’t Griffin’s first expansion of Poe’s work. Prior to The Fall, Griffin turned to Poe’s short story ‘The Masque of the Red Death’ to create two dystopian novels, Masque of the Red Death and Dance of the Red Death. Other authors have also jumped on the Poe train. ‘Annabel Lee’, Poe’s spooky poem describing the death of a beautiful woman in “a kingdom by the sea”, is the basis for two recent novels, Ashes on the Waves by Mary Lindsey and Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday.House of Usher

Of course, filmmakers have been turning to Poe for inspiration long before this mini-trend in young adult novels and there have been quite a few film adaptations of his short stories and narrative poetry. To describe most of these movies as “loosely based” on his work is an understatement. (Certainly, the version of ‘Murders in Rue Morgue’ I watched in my high school English class didn’t have much to do with the short story.) Of the many Poe-inspired movies, Roger Corman’s film adaptations with Vincent Price are the ones a lot of people remember and they are a lot of fun to watch. If you would like a taste of the Corman/Price movies, the library has a DVD double feature of Fall of the House of Usher and The Pit and the Pendulum  that is available for checkout .

Oddly enbart as ravenough, one of the most faithful film adaptations of Poe’s work is the version of ‘The Raven’ from the first Treehouse of Horror episode of the Simpsons. In this episode, the poem is read by James Earl Jones with Homer as the narrator and Bart as the Raven. While quite funny, the text of the poem is not changed and Homer’s descent into madness closely follows the narrative of the poem (or, at least, close enough that the episode is used by some high school teachers to introduce the poem to their students.) The second season of the Simpsons (which contains the inaugural Treehouse of Horror episode) is available at the library, but, if you can’t wait, the Raven segment can be easily found online.

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Corben draws Poe

‘The Raven’ has also been adapted in comics form by cartoonist Richard Corben, who is known for creating unsettling images using a combination of pen & ink and airbrush. Since the 1970s, Corben has drawn quite a few adaptations of Poe’s works. Many of these have been collected in two volumes owned by the library (in both print and electronic formats) – Edgar Allan Poe’s Spirits of the Dead and Creepy Presents Richard Corben (although I wouldn’t recommend them to those with a low tolerance for gore and nudity.)

On a less gruesome note,  musicians have likewise turned to Poe for inspiration. Sarah Jarosz’s  adaptation of the aforementioned ‘Anabel Lee’ (from the 2011 album Follow Me Down) is a great example of this. Playing clawhammer banjo (and changing the spelling of the title character’s name), she recasts the poem to resemble an Appalachian murder ballad in the spirit of ‘Knoxville Girl’ or ‘The Banks of the Ohio.’

In the end, of course, the best way to experience Edgar Allan Poe is to read his original work. Collections of Poe’s stories and poetry are available at all Denton Public Library locations. In addition, Denton Public Library cardholders can download electronic versions of Poe’s work using the library’s Overdrive and Hoopla services.

Stacy
South Branch Library

Denton Public Library Alphabet

A is for Accounts

Of course, we would start with your library account!  It is the best way to take advantage of all the library has to offer.  You can check out books, DVDs, music CDs, magazines and kits.  Your library account also gives you access to downloadable services, online learning services, and database searching 24/7 from anywhere you have internet connection.  Stop by any of the three library branches to get your library card.

B is for Book-A-Librarian service

Need help setting up your tablet, accessing downloadable eBooks, writing your resume, or marketing your business?  Schedule a 30-minute appointment to meet with one of our knowledgeable staff members.  The service is free!

C is for the Library Catalog

We would not be able to find anything without the library catalog .  Search for a title, author, subject or keyword.  You can also check your account, place holds on items, and create reading lists through the catalog.  If you are interested in finding the newest releases and preorders, go to the “Featured Lists”  page and see what is new.  Expert tip: Use the “Featured Lists” section to place holds on new materials before they are even released.

D is for dpl2go

Did you know that the library has a mobile unit that visits local neighborhoods, schools, senior living facilities, and more?  Keep your eye out for our dpl2go van.  Be sure to stop by if you see us in your neighborhood.  Chances are you will walk away with a free book to keep!

E is for eBooks & eAudiobooks

The library’s Overdrive and hoopla digital services allow cardholders to access downloadable eBooks and eAudiobooks.  Download to your computer, tablet, eReader or smartphone.  If you are not familiar with the services, you can always schedule a Book-A-Librarian appointment to have a friendly staff member help you get the services set up on your device.

F is for Friends of the Library

The Friends of the Denton Public Libraries is a fantastic organization that helps raise funds to support the library.  The Friends group hosts quarterly book sales and operates the Secondhand Prose Used Bookstore, located at the North Branch Library.  The bookstore is open Saturdays 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Sundays 1-4 p.m., and Mondays 9 a.m.-8:30 p.m.  The funds raised by the Friends have helped purchase furniture, equipment, and summer reading club prize books.  When you become a Friends of the Library member or purchase from their bookstore, you help support the library.

G is for Genealogy

Have you been intrigued by those Ancestry.com commercials?  Maybe you were bitten by the genealogy bug long ago and want to break down some of those research brick walls.  In either case, the Denton Public Library has the resources and support to help you find your family history.  Stop by the Special Collections Department at the Emily Fowler Central Library to learn how to start building your family tree.  Access Ancestry, Fold3, Heritage Quest,  or any of the other genealogy databases.  Attend one of the many genealogy classes to learn new resources and research tips.

H is for Homebound

The Denton Public Library provides library materials to individuals who are homebound due to illness, disability, or age and are physically unable to visit the library.  The library can mail materials to your home.  Each package includes a prepaid envelope to return the item via mail.  Ask for more information or an application at the reference desk.

I is for Interlibrary Loan

Looking for an item that is not in the library’s collection?  Request an Interlibrary Loan.  We will contact other libraries and ask them to send their copy for you to check out.  Return the item back to your closest DPL branch and we will ship it back to its home library.

J is for Job Search and Job Skills Support

Use the library computers to type and print your resume or fill out online job applications.  Access Brainfuse’s Adult Learning Center for resume writing and job searching help.  Take one of the 4,000+ courses on Lynda.com to learn a new skill.  Visit Learning Express Career Center to find vocational guidance and job related tests.

K is for Knowledgeable staff

Our friendly, knowledgeable staff is available to help you find the materials you need, share information about library services, and help you learn new things.  We have experts in children’s literacy, teen services, marketing, genealogy and local history, small business, technology, and more.

L is for Local History

The library has a treasure trove of local history within our Special Collections Department at the Emily Fowler Central Library.  Look at old yearbooks, access local newspaper archives, read transcripts of oral histories from longtime Dentonites, access local cemetery or funeral home records, or take a look at the 1956 items that the Denton Public Library has made available on the UNT Portal to Texas History site.

M is for Makerspace: the Forge

Visit the Forge at the North Branch Library to learn about technology, design digital creations, create music, print 3D items with the 3D printer, or solder electronics.  If you are curious, but new to these topics, come to any of the free classes in the Forge to learn how to use them.

N is for New materials

The library orders books, DVDs, and music months in advance of their release dates.  Once an item is ordered, it appears in the library collection as “On Order”.  Be one of the first to check out new materials by placing holds on “On Order” materials.  You can also request items for purchase by clicking on the “My Library” link on the online catalog and selecting “Purchase Suggestions.

O is for O’Neil Ford

O’Neil Ford is the renowned Texas architect who designed the Emily Fowler Central Library.  In 2009, a historical marker was dedicated at the Emily Fowler Central Library in Ford’s honor.  O’Neil Ford also designed the Denton Civic Center, Denton City Hall, and The Little Chapel in the Woods at TWU.  Read more about O’Neil Ford on the Humanities Texas: Texas Originals site.

P is for Pronunciator

Learn a new language with Pronunciator.  Select from over 80 languages.  Each language features learning courses for children, adults, and travelers.  You can also take part in live courses with a real instructor or participate in online conversation classes.

Q is for Quiet Room @ South Branch

The South Branch unveiled its new Quiet Room earlier this year.  Enjoy relaxing in comfortable lounge seating or working at study tables in this quiet environment.

R is for Reading

One of our favorite ways to promote reading, aside from providing all those books, is through our Summer Reading Club.  This year, the Summer Reading Club will become the 2017 Summer Reading Challenge.  The challenge is for all of Denton to read 1 million minutes.  The Summer Reading Challenge is for ALL ages.  The Summer Reading Challenge is a great way to encourage students to read during the summer months, for parents to model reading behavior, and for adults to keep up their reading skills too.

S is for StoryTime

All three branches offer StoryTime programs throughout the week.  Bring children, birth through 18 months, to Mother Goose Time and build infant and caregiver bonding through stories, songs, and activities.  The Baby & Toddler StoryTime is perfect for children ages 3 and younger.  It promotes literacy and caregiver bonding through books, songs, and fingerplays.  Toddler Time is a great way to promote literacy and social interaction using stories, songs, and toddler-appropriate activities.  StoryTime is an interactive class where children ages 1-5 use stories, songs, and puppets to build the early literacy skills that help them learn to read.

T is for Teens and Tweens

Each branch of the library has a collection of Teen Fiction, Teen Non-fiction, Teen Graphic Novels, Teen Audiobooks, and magazines for teens.  In addition, we have a variety of classes and events specifically for teens and tweens, ages 12-17, from gaming to crafts to anime to volunteering.

U is for USB & earbuds

The library sells USB drives and earbuds.  If you are working on a project and realize you need to save, visit the circulation desk where you can purchase a USB drive for $5.00 + tax.  If you need to watch a video, but forgot your earbuds, you can purchase a new set for $1.00 + tax.

V is for VHS/DVD converter

Do you have a stack of old VHS videotapes holding precious memories?  Now you can bring them to the Emily Fowler Central Library and convert them to DVDs.  The VHS/DVD conversion machine is available in the Special Collections Department.  Bring your blank writeable DVD and start moving those memories to a more current format.

W is for Wi-Fi

All three branches of the Denton Public Library provide free Wi-Fi access.  No password is needed.  Simply select the Denton Library Public Wi-Fi option in your network settings, read and accept the terms on the web page that pops up, and you are ready to conduct business, stream TV or movies, or surf the web.

X is for Xeriscape garden

You are invited to stroll through the North Branch xeriscape garden.  The garden features native plants that help conserve water.  Enjoy a family picnic on one of the stone benches.  If you find a plant you especially like, you can use the xeriscape plant guide hanging just inside the North Branch lobby.

Y is for You!!!

The library would not exist without you!  In the last year, you visited the library 522,592 times.  49,530 people attended classes and events at the library.  You checked out 1,201,378 items.  You asked 37,406 questions.  You volunteered 9,247 hours.  We thank you for your patronage and look forward to continuing to serve you and the Denton community.

Z is for Zinio

Access your favorite magazines online with Zinio.  You can download magazine issues to your PC, tablet or smartphone.  Download the Zinio for Libraries app from your app store.  Use your library card number to sign in and start downloading magazine issues.

Jennifer Bekker
North Branch Library

Wandering About Oakwood Cemetery

A few weeks ago I stopped at Oakwood Cemetery Gateto take a few photographs. The sky was overcast, the weather balmy, (yes in February) and it just felt like a fitting day to visit a Cemetery. But Oakwood is more than just a place where people are buried. If there is any spot in Denton where one can get a feel for the breadth of the City’s history, it is this small cemetery tucked between a park, a neighborhood and an industrial area in Southeast Denton.

The cemetery was established in 1857 around the same time Denton was founded as the county seat. (There are a few burials that date before that time.) It was known for many years as the City Cemetery but in 1931 the name was changed to the Oakwood Cemetery.  Ann Cope provides a little history and some of the local lore surrounding the cemetery in the “Last Resting Place of Denton’s Pioneer Ancestry; Once Neglected, Now Beauty Spot of Grass, Flowers.” (DRC 3 OCT 1930)

In another article, “The Silent City and the Sleepers There” (DRC 10 July 1915) the author provides a well-written, if not sentimental, biography of a few of the many of pioneer settlers and early citizens of Denton buried in the cemetery. The State of Texas designated it a historical site with the placement of a marker in 1982. (Oakwood Marker Dedication)

As I wandered the old part of cemetery I was looking for members of some of the African American families who are interred there. For many years this cemetery was their only option for a burial place in the City.  I found the headstone for Henry Maddox and his wife Charlotte, proprietors of the boarding house in Quakertown, and next to that a marker inscribed with the names of Mr. Maddox’s mother and sister. (Providing his mother’s name after she remarried and his sister’s married name, a gold mine for a genealogist!)

I was surprised to see how few headstones are still standing in the old part of the cemetery. The remaining headstones range from unreadable weathered wood markers to elaborate granite monuments. Headstones are easy prey for vandals and the ravages of time. It’s possible that some graves never had a marker. The DRC published an article by Keith Shelton, “Old Graveyard Tells Denton County History”  about the vandalism and decay of the headstones.(DRC 14 May 1967 1DRC 14 May 1967 2)

There are over 4500 people interred at Oakwood Cemetery. If you would like to find out more about Oakwood Cemetery, and other cemeteries in Denton, visit the Genealogy and Local History Department at the Emily Fowler Central Library.

Sandstones

Laura Douglas
Emily Fowler Central Library

True Crime under the Magnifying Glass

ladykillerGreat “True Crime” books bring together a compelling story and a talented author. I have been a fan of this genre since my teens. Unfortunately, there are a lot of badly written “ripped from the headlines” true crime titles that are produced simply to make as much money as you can as quickly as possible. This has given some people a negative impression of these books. However, there are a lot of great true crime writers whose stories rival bestselling mystery and thriller novels. Only in these cases, every crazy detail is true. These are some of my favorites.

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

In Cold Blood is considered by many to be the grandfather of the “True Crime” genre. Novelist Truman Capote wrote about the true shocking murder of  four members of a Kansas farm family in 1959. The book retells the brutal death of the family and follows the investigation, the trial and execution of the perpetrators. In addition to Capote’s haunting prose, it is fascinating to watch the detectives follow clues in an era where forensic investigation was still in its infancy.

devil

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

If you want your true crime to also give you a history lesson Erik Larson’s stories are never a disappointment. The Devil in the White City, tells two parallel and very different stories that rotate from chapter to chapter. One is about the notorious and some would say “first” serial killer, H.H. Holmes and the other follows the completion of the 1893 World’s Fair. It was surprising and a testament to the skill of the author to find how well the two narratives work together.

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective by Kake Summersale.

In 1860 three-year-old Saville Kent is found murdered at his family manor in England. The country is scandalized and demands answers. Scotland Yard sends one of its best, Inspector Jonathan Whicher. Filled with twists and turns, this case would almost destroy him. This is a great read for those that like their mysteries deeply and thoroughly researched. The author looks at the crime from a number of different angles, explores the background of witnesses, discusses numerous newspaper accounts and considers other crimes in England that might have some relevance. If you like every detail explored, this book will work for you.

columbine

Columbine by Dave Cullen

Ten years after the tragedy at Columbine High School, journalist Dave Cullen wrote what many considered the definitive book about what actually happened. Cullen takes a close look at many of the rumors that sprang up in the days after the shooting. Many of those rumors have been repeated for years as facts when the truth, which takes much longer to discover,  is much different. This award winning book is full of interviews and documents that shed new light on that dark day in April 1999. If you are interesting in looking for answers about Columbine that might give you a new perspective try A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold. This memoir looks at these tragic events through the eyes of one of the killer’s mother. She discusses her struggle to reconcile the monster that killed his classmates with the child she loved.

Mindhunter (1995) and Law and Disorder (2013) by John E. Douglas

John E. Douglas was one of the first criminal profilers for the FBI. He has written a number of books about the numerous investigations he participated in and has used his expertise to look at notorious cases (solved and unsolved). Douglas does not pull his punches when discussing the brutal and violent details of these crimes. His books are not for the faint of heart. He discusses what investigators look for when profiling a crime and compares what they were looking for to what was eventually found. John E. Douglas is a great read if you are a fan of Criminal Minds, Discovery ID or CSI.

83 Minutes: The Doctor, The Damage and the Shocking Death of Michael Jackson by Matt Richards

In late June 2009, the 24 hours news networks broke in with the shocking news about the death of Michael Jackson. In the months that followed an investigation would culminate with the arrest and later conviction of Jackson’s personal doctor for manslaughter. The story of his death is almost as strange and unconventional as his life. The author takes a look at the winding path that lead to this superstar’s death and if it was a crime or accident. Different readers may come to different conclusions about who was responsible for the singer’s death.

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The Stranger Beside Me: Ted Bundy The Shocking Inside Story by Ann Rule

Ann Rule is the queen of True Crime. All of her titles are worth reading. She writes with the skill of an investigative reporter but has a unique ability to humanize the victims who cannot speak for themselves. She is as focused on them as much as she is on the killers. I believe the most interesting of her titles is her first. In The Stranger Beside Me, she talks about the crimes of the notorious serial killer Ted Bundy. In a shocking twist, Ann Rule worked with Bundy at a suicide hotline in Washington. As she was following the disappearances of young women across the state and considered writing about the case, she was sitting right next to their murderer, and she liked him.

Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi

Helter Skelter is another True Crime classic. It was written by the lead prosecutor of Charles Manson and his accomplices. Bugliosi has a great voice and obviously is writing about a case that he lived. If you are interested in courtroom drama of one of the “crimes of the century” this will give you a little bit of everything. This is a great read for fans of the Law and Order TV series.

Ladykiller by Donna Fielder

If you like to explore the dark side of your own hometown then Ladykiller is a must read. When Viki Lozano is found shot in her Denton County home, friends and authorities have a number of questions. Is it suicide or murder? Suspicious eyes fall on her husband, Denton police officer Bobby Lozano. An arrest does not come quickly. This story is full of local color, including a tenacious reporter that helped shine a light on this case when it was going cold. Plot twist: she ended up writing this book. Donna Fielder also wrote about another fascinating local crime in Let’s Kill Mom: Four Texas Teens and a Horrifying Murder Pact.

These are a few of my favorites.  Do you have a recommendations? Let us know in the comments.

~Kimberly – Emily Fowler Central Library