February 10, 2016

Guilty (?) Reading Pleasures for Fans of Making a Murderer

Netflix's hit docu-drama Making a Murderer offers compelling evidence that convicted killer Steven Avery may be serving life for a murder he didn't commit. After eighteen years in prison for rape, Avery was exonerated by DNA and freed in 2005. In 2007, Avery was convicted for the murder of photographer Teresa Halbach, which occurred just after his release.

Cast as the "villain," former prosecuting DA Ken Kratz plans to write his own tell-all in defense of Wisconsin law enforcement and court officials, and setting forth all the facts publicly to prove Avery's guilt beyond the proverbial shadow of a doubt... stay tuned!

Meanwhile, here's a list of riveting true-crime reads about other controversial, modern murder cases -- each is sure to leave you with new thoughts on that big question: guilty, or not?

The Innocent Killer: the True Story of a Wrongful Conviction and its Astonishing Aftermath by Michael Griesbach 
Griesbach puts the system on trial with challenging questions about the investigations and court proceedings that led to Avery's conviction.  

A Wilderness of Error: the Trials of Jeffrey MacDonald by Errol Morris
Even readers convinced of Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald's guilt in the 1970 murders of his wife and young daughters in Fort Bragg, North Carolina may emerge with serious doubts about his guilt after reading this disturbing, detailed account of his investigation and trial.

The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town by John Grisham
Grisham melds tough investigative journalism with the signature pacing that makes his thrillers hard to beat in this account of Ron Williamson, a dissolute, mentally unstable Major League washout, who is nearly railroaded onto death row for a hometown rape and murder.

Echoes of my Soul  by Robert Tanenbaum
Recounts how a young black man, George Whitmore Jr. (whose IQ was less than 70), was convicted of murdering two white women in 1963 and jailed for decades on the basis of a false confession obtained under extreme duress, and police malfeasance motivated by racial prejudice.

Manifest Injustice: the True Story of a Convicted Murderer and the Lawyers Who Want him Freed by Barry Siegel
In 1974, Carol Kempfert told authorities her husband, William Macumber, had suddenly confessed to her about murdering a couple in 1962. Macumber was convicted in 1976, despite evidence that his wife -- an employee at the sheriff's office -- trumped up the case with support from her colleagues to be rid of him.

Anatomy of Injustice: a Murder Case Gone Wrong  by Raymond Bonner
At the age of twenty-three, Edward Lee Elmore, a black man, was arrested after the body of a white widow was found brutally beaten in the closet of her home. Bonner presents a disturbing portrait of racism, prosecutorial misconduct, inept defense, and other injustices that are, regrettably, not unique to Elmore's case.

Getting Life: an Innocent Man's 25-year Journey from Prison to Peace by Michael Morton
A firsthand account of Morton's fight for justice after being wrongfully convicted for murder of his wife, allegedly in full-view of their toddler son. Exonerated by DNA evidence after 25 years in a hellish Texas penal system, Morton delivers a sobering, informative account marked by a remarkable lack of bitterness.

Devil's Knot: the true story of the West Memphis Three by Mara Leveritt
In 1993, law enforcement in small-town Arkansas targeted three local teens -- all misfits in their rural, socially conservative community -- for the brual murders of three children. Amidst wild accusations of Satanism, botched forensics and a coerced "confession" from one of the accused (who was mentally challenged), the teens were convicted while a more viable suspect -- and valued local drug informant -- was shielded from investigation. Freed after 18 years in prison, their case remains controversial.

P.S. We've pulled together some Killer Books for Teens (fiction titles) too!

Kimberly Burton is an Editor/Bibliographer at NoveList. She a librariatrix, folk horror fan, artist/maker, and medieval maven. Want to hear more from her? Sign up for Kim's Book Squad email updates.

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