True Crime

I’m reading Helter Skelter, the true account of the Manson killings and trial by Vincent Bugliosi, the prosecuting DA in the case.

It’s very detailed, in small print. And it’s fascinating. There’s no flowery language: it’s an obsessive account of the facts. I feel like I’m gathering information myself, because the almost dispassionate tone inspires little feeling in me, only interest.

It was of course a horrific series of events – I hadn’t even realised how horrific. I knew little about the case before starting the book, and keep being surprised by details like Sharon Tate being pregnant, John Lennon being sought to testify about The Beatles’ lyrics, Elizabeth Taylor being on the ‘hit list’.

The book has stirred up an interest in true crime for me. I’ve always been a fiction girl but lately I’ve been reading a lot about hoaxes (particularly Munchausen by Internet cases) and I think this is a natural progression. There’s nothing more magical than entering an imaginary world but there’s also nothing more personally interesting than real humans and their stories.

I’ve ordered In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, another book by someone who became obsessed with a crime and took it upon themselves to piece together all the events (Capote took six years to write the book and committed all witness quotes to memory). It’s about a quadruple homicide case in Kansas during the 50s and I’m very interested to see how Capote approached this, having read Breakfast at Tiffany’s – one of the biggest pieces of fluff ever written.

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