Best Reading in 2016: Nonfiction, part one: true crime

December 12, 2016 at 1:55 pm (Best of 2016, books, True crime)

978080509672  51ztprt2ol

978159420781

Okay, here goes:

I had a great reading year in nonfiction; in fact, it’s probably accurate to say that this is where most of my 2016 reading joy resided.

The true crime subgenre came through for me  as it almost always  does. In The Midnight Assassin, Skip Hollandsworth tells the harrowing story of a serial killer, all the while bringing late nineteenth Texas history vividly to life. Hollandsworth writes for Texas Monthly Magazine, which has for some time featured exceptional true crime reportage.

True Crime Addict differs from most books in this genre that I’ve heretofore read in that journalist James Renner’s obsession with the case of  young woman’s baffling disappearance results in his personal life becoming hopelessly entangled in the investigation.

In The Wicked Boy, Kate Summerscale once again proves herself a master of the true crime narrative. As with the award-winning Suspicions of Mr Whicher (2008), meticulous research combined with a compelling story results in yet another outstanding book. There are more questions than answers in The Wicked Boy, and there is one questions that, when all is said and done,  hangs over this whole affair of a misbegotten son and his fatally impulsive act: one of the profoundest questions we humans can ask of ourselves, or of one another.

In 2009, I chose The Suspicions of Mr Whicher to present to the Usual Suspects. In April of next year, I’ll be doing the same with The Wicked Boy. (I recommend Mrs Robinson’s Disgrace, also by Kate Summerscale. Not exactly true crime, but the book provides a fascinating window onto the mores of Victorian Britain.) mrs-robinsonsdisgrace1

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Kate Summerscale

James Renner

James Renner

Skip Hollandsworth

Skip Hollandsworth

 

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