Monday, January 25, 2021

The Best New True Crime Stories: Small Towns - Mitzi Szereto

 

Summary: Small Town Charm With Deadly Consequences

A collection of non-fiction accounts by international writers and experts on small town true crime shows readers that the real monsters aren’t hiding in the woods, they’re inside our towns.

Small towns aren’t always what they seem. We’ve been told nothing bad happens in small towns. You can leave your doors unlocked, and your windows wide open. We picture peaceful hamlets with a strong sense of community, and everyone knows each other. But what if this wholesome idyllic image doesn’t always square with reality? Small towns might look and feel safe, but statistics show this isn’t really true.

Tiny town, big crime. Whether in Truman Capote’s detailed murder of the Clutter family or Ted Bundy’s small-town charm, criminals have always roamed rural America and towns worldwide. Featuring murder stories, criminal case studies, and more, The Best New True Crime Stories: Small Towns contains all-new accounts from writers of true crime, crime journalism, and crime fiction. And these entries are not based on a true story―they are true stories. Edited by acclaimed author and anthologist Mitzi Szereto, the stories in this volume span the globe. Discover how unsolved murders, kidnapping, shooting sprees, violent robbery, and other bad things can and do happen in small towns all over the world.

If you enjoyed Mitzi's last book in the series, The Best New True Crime Stories: Serial Killers, and true crime books like In Cold Blood, Murder in the Bayou, and The Innocent Man, then you’ll love The Best New True Crime Stories: Small Towns.

My Review: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

I have to admit that although I’ve always been a big reader and have always loved books, one of my favorite things in high school was reading those huge compilation textbooks of short stories. I read so many good ones and really wish I could get my hands on one of those textbooks again and look at all those beloved stories. As I type this I’m just now realizing that I could probably ask my English teacher brother-in-law if he had any suggestions…but I digress.

One thing I really loved about the short story compilations was that they were all by different authors. I’ve read short story compilations by one author, of course (one of my first memorable ones being from Jumpa Lahiri, so obviously that was awesome) , but there is something fun about reading a compilation of short stories by lots of different people. It’s discombobulating in a way because the writing styles changes and the story matter changes, but it’s also an exercise in training your brain to think fast and be adaptable.

As much as I love those kinds of compilations, one thing they usually lack is some kind of common theme. There’s something fun about picking up a book and reading all kinds of stories with a connecting theme. It allows you to immerse yourself in the topic in a multi-dimensional sort of way, and in the case of Best New True Crime: Small Towns, exposes you to lots of fun cases.

 I have to say that I enjoyed this book a lot. It’s the kind of book where you can pick it up and read for awhile, covering many stories and therefore many cases, but it’s also the kind of book where you can “one and done” it and just read one story and be satisfied as well. Each author brings something different to the table. Not only are they good authors whose writing is great to read and definitely a good experience, but some of the chapters are more classic crime-type reports: they introduce the characters, what happened, the investigation, the ending, whereas others vary. Sometimes the case is solved, sometimes it’s not. Sometimes the author is just musing on crime and how it has affected their life or the small town they’re from or connected to. It really was a varied group of stories and storytelling styles that made for interesting reading. I found it to be a good “palate cleanser” book, where if one of the other books I was reading got to be too much, or I just needed a break from what I was reading, or if I just needed a break from what I was doing, Best New True Crime was easy to pick up, read, and put down and continue on my way.

 I have kept no secret on this blog in saying that I’m in to crime—I like reading about it, I like watching it, I don’t like committing it. J That being said, these stories were all new to me, and yet they were just as creepy and shocking as the ones I’ve already watched or read about. They’re definitely read-worthy. I especially liked the topic of small towns, as that made it seem even more ominous.

 If you are a true crime person, or even if you’re just looking for a book of interesting short stories about crime, this is a good one to check out. My mom and sister, both avid readers of true crime, are excited to get their hands on my copy of this one.

 My Rating: 4 Stars

 For the sensitive reader: This is a true crime book, so there is the expected violence, gore, and shocking human behavior that is to be expected with such a book.

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