February and March 2022 ‹ CrimeReads

A look at the best new non-fiction crime books released in February and March.

Susan Jonusas, Hell’s Half-Acre (Viking)

The numerous murders committed by some members of the Bender family in late 19th century Kansas remain one of the most puzzling and disturbing cases in American history, largely because the killers appear to have escaped into the oblivion, lost in history. In Hell’s Half-AcreSusan Jonusas delves into period records to uncover previously unknown elements of the story, largely focusing on Bender’s escape across the border, aided by outlaw communities and hunted down by incompetent detectives at the center of a sudden public maelstrom. Hell’s Half-Acre is an impressive research and an extremely interesting tale relayed by a talented storyteller. –Dwyer Murphy, Editor of CrimeReads

Erika Krouse, Tell me everything (Iron)

Erika Krouse has the kind of face where people tell her everything; or at least that’s how she was hired as a private detective when a lawyer found himself sharing a lot more with her in a bookstore than he usually would. He hired her on the spot to help investigate a sexual assault at a college party, as he sued the school for creating a culture that would not only allow, but encourage, multiple instances of rape. . Krouse tells the story with fierce outrage for the victims and a wry, self-deprecating wit when it comes to his own skills. This book fills the void left in my heart at the end of Lie to me. RIP that show. –Molly Odintz, Editor of CrimeReads

Jarrett Kobek, How to find the zodiac (We heard you like books)

Jarrett Kobek, author of the 2016 novel, i hate internet, embarked on an exciting project in his latest book, both an ingenious detective and an epistemological enterprise that alternates between meditative and exuberant registers, all centered around a mystery that grips the cold case community like no other: the search for the Killer Zodiac. In short, Kobek thinks (knowing full well how bizarre that belief is) that he may have discovered the identity of the zodiac. He then sets out to prove himself wrong… but will he succeed? Linguistic clues and quotes lead him to believe that the Zodiac was a comic book collector at a time when the practice was rare. From there, he focuses on one suspect and explores the case against him from all angles. The book brings a new and conscious perspective to a mystery that has permeated the culture. –DM

Sarah Weinman, Scoundrel (Eco)

In 1957, a teenage girl named Victoria Zielinski was murdered by a man named Edgar Smith. Throughout the 1960s, while in prison for the crime, Smith wrote numerous pleas to have the conviction overturned, including to William F. Buckley Jr. In 1971, Edgar Smith was released , thanks in large part to Buckley, who ran a campaign on his behalf, apparently being unable to believe that someone who held him (and his conservative beliefs) in such high regard could be a murderer. In 1976, Smith again attempted to commit murder and was eventually locked up for life. Sarah Weinman does an impeccable job with this wild tale of murder, fame, politics, and America’s ability to put unsavory characters on a pedestal. –Julia Hass, editor of Lit Hub

The article continues after the ad

Rachel Rear, Catch the sparrow (Bloomsbury)

Rachel Rear grew up thinking often of her half-sister Stephanie Kupchynsky. How could she not? Rear’s mother reunited with Kupchynsky’s father after Stephanie disappeared from her Rochester home during the era of serial killers. Stephanie had left Martha’s Vineyard to leave an abusive partner, but fell victim to a mysterious abuser as she was on the cusp of a new life. Rachel Rear’s beautiful and heartbreaking memoir is also a fierce interrogation of violence against women in American culture, and essential reading for understanding the experience of families left behind.–MO

Mona Cholet, In Defense of the Witches: The Legacy of Witch Hunts and Why Women Are Still Judged
Translated by Sophie R. Lewis
(St. Martin Press)

This book looks so cool! And it’s not just because of this perfect use of melodramatic purple on the cover. First, let’s take a moment to celebrate the rarity of a work of non-fiction by a woman being translated into English, because it doesn’t happen that often. Moreover, it is about witches. And not just the history of witch burnings and what they meant for the persecution of difficult women, but how those same patterns of ostracism and punishment play out today. Ooh and there’s an intro by Carmen Maria Machado, which really makes this one a must-read. –MO

Comments are closed.