By Page Barnes of Your Mom’s Guide to Life
I have a confession to make.
No. I haven’t committed a murder. And if I had committed a murder (which again, I haven’t), do you seriously think I’d be stupid enough to publish a blog post about it?
But I will confess that I am borderline obsessed with true crime stories. I watch them. I read them. I listen to them.
I know that with the popularity of Serial, Making of a Murderer, The Jinx, etc., true crime stories are all the rage these days. But I am no newbie to the true crime genre.
Back when I was a kid, the school I attended had an annual book sale. It was not just books for kids. There were books for grown-ups, too. Every year we were marched into the sale to make a wish list that would later be given to our parents.
When I was in about the 6th grade, I dutifully made my list, which was then passed on to my mother. While my classmates were asking for “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret” or “The Hobbit,” my list was a collection of books about murder. My mother came home from the sale, absolutely mortified by my choices. She told me that she wouldn’t buy me any of my chosen books at the school sale because she was afraid that the parents who were running the sale would think she was raising a psychopath.
But even though my mother was horrified that I would publicly reveal my obsession with true crime, my mother had no one to blame but herself. She was the person who got me interested in the genre in the first place.
During our marathon road trips every summer, my mother would buy copies of “True Detective Magazine,” which she and I would pore over while we drove through the Great Plains, listening to my father and brother chat about baseball. She let me read her copy of “Helter Skelter” when I was about 13. We moved on to the books of Ann Rule and Joe McGinniss and countless others.
I always knew when my mom was reading a scary book. She slept upstairs, and my room was at the bottom of the stairs on the ground floor. Late at night, I would often hear a loud “thunk” outside my bedroom door. It was my mother throwing the scary book she was reading down the stairs because she didn’t want it near her while she was sleeping. (But I guess it was OK for me to sleep near it. Thanks, Mom!) I’d pick it up in the morning so that I could figure out what she was reading and grab it when she was done. The more consecutive nights of book thunking, the better the book was likely to be.
Then came the TV shows, the mini-series, the documentaries and the movies — Unsolved Mysteries, Fatal Vision, The Thin Blue Line, and In Cold Blood. In Cold Blood was of particular significance because it was the book that started my mother down the path of late-night book hurling. Plus, the movie version had a special appearance by a drama teacher at my high school who, many years earlier, had played the girl who discovered the Clutter family’s bodies. Her only line in the movie was a blood-curdling scream. But to my true crime loving heart, that was super impressive.
And while teenagers go through phases, my interest in true crime remains unabated. My DVR is filled with episodes of 48 Hours and shows on the Investigation Discovery channel. I often fall asleep to the dulcet tones of Keith Morrison’s voice as he details some murder on an episode of Dateline that I’ve already seen 4 times.
It turns out that murder makes me sleepy.
If you see me wearing headphones in the grocery store or while I’m walking the dog, I’m probably not listening to music; I’m much more likely to be listening to Criminal or The Generation Why or My Favorite Murder. And I’m always on the lookout for another good true crime book.
So now my shameful secret is out. But at least I know I’m not alone. With the proliferation of true crime stories these days — maybe some of you have a confession to make too.
Just consult a lawyer first. I learned that from Dateline.
This post was originally published on Your Mom’s Guide to Life.
About the Author
Mom. Lawyer. Author of the definitive Guide to the Hippie Colleges of America. Writes as “Your Mom” at yourmomsguidetolife.com. Find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/yourmomsguidetolife and on Twitter @yourmomsguide.