MORGUE nominated for Edgar!

This morning, the Mystery Writers of America announced that MORGUE: A LIFE IN DEATH, by Dr. Vincent Di Maio and Ron Franscell, is among the nominees for its prestigious Edgar Awards as one of the five best true crimes of 2016. “It’s always a humbling moment when a life’s story is considered worthy of re-telling,” co-author…Read More…

The Blessing Jar

“Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.” —SATCHEL PAIGE I lived a hundred lives last year. The curious wanderer, the angry plumber, the heartbroken son who refused to cry, the willing friend, the writer who lost his words, the proud stonemason, the reclusive loner, the expectant fisherman, the father who missed too much,…Read More…

A new year already? But …

Ready or not, a new year is about to begin, even though it doesn’t seem like that long ago when the “old” year started. An amateur philosopher friend of mine has two theories about why time passes so much quicker as we get old. Theory No. 1: Every year is an incrementally smaller fraction of the…Read More…

In defense of Ebenezer Scrooge

This essay originally appeared in 1998. It appears here today with a few minor but festive updates. No businessman in the history of literature has been as misunderstood as Ebenezer Scrooge. His very name is now a synonym for pinch-fisted churlishness and humbuggery. Why? Certainly because that was Charles Dickens’ aim when, in his classic…Read More…

Whistling in the graveyard

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” —William Faulkner So the would-be mass murderer at Ohio State University this week was apparently inspired by the hateful words of American-born cleric Anwar al Awlaki, al Qaeda’s most powerful recruiter before he was obliterated in a US drone strike in Yemen in 2011. A few years ago, I…Read More…

A season of slaughter is coming

Where I grew up, you learned the smell of rain coming, and could damn near tell the exact day, maybe the exact moment, the seasons changed. Well, a dark season lies ahead. In 2009, in the earliest, scariest days of the Great Recession and the uncertainty of a new presidential administration, I predicted an uptick…Read More…

I cut off an old friend today

I ended a lifelong friendship today. I canceled my local newspaper subscription. And it breaks my heart. I feel like a traitor to a cause I have embraced since I was a kid. Or maybe it’s a feeling that I wasted my life on such a passion. Or maybe I simply felt a fool to…Read More…

There’s pain and love. Then there’s painful love.

Some stories are about love, and some are about pain. But painful love stories like the star-crossed romance between Annie Beatrice McQuiston and Claude “Cowboy” Henry started long before they met in a whorehouse on a humid night in Depression-era Texas. EXCERPT Joe Calloway died naked in a Louisiana rice field, trembling with terror and…Read More…

A dark night, long ago and far away

Every crime writer has heard this little heckling voice, usually from the cheap seats, but sometimes from inside his own head. It isn’t always loud, but it’s often piercing. Tragically, today is the 43rd anniversary of a monstrous crime against two of my childhood friends in the small town where we grew up: Two young sisters were abducted…Read More…

Before Dallas, there was Mark Essex

This was excerpted from Ron Franscell’s DELIVERED FROM EVIL, a book that explores the lives of 10 ordinary people who survived mass killers. One of those monsters was a racist sniper named Mark Essex, who perched in a downtown New Orleans hotel in 1973 with an evil plan to kill as many white people as…Read More…

Did a Bible-thumping dummy meet a grim end?

The story you are about to read is true. No names have been changed to protect anybody. I’m not that creative. ~~~~~~~~~ The city is Beaumont, Texas. I carry a chewed-up pencil, a ratty notebook and my fingers are stained with bubble-jet ink. I’m a newspaperman. (Here’s where you, the reader, sing, “Dum-de-dum-dum.”) It was…Read More…

Vincent van Gogh: Suicide or homicide?

Among the historic, infamous, and heartbreaking deaths we explore in the brand-new book MORGUE: A LIFE IN DEATH (St. Martin’s Press) is the presumed suicide of the troubled genius Vincent van Gogh. Presumed. When van Gogh’s latest biographers, Pulitzer-winning authors Steven Naifeh and the late Gregory White Smith, were perplexed by the evidence, they eventually…Read More…

Is ‘felon’ the new dirty word?

If government was required to generate 1,000 jobs for every new word it tried to insert in the cultural lexicon, we’d all be employed. The Washington Post recently ran a guest column by U.S. Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General Karol Mason, who has headed the Office of Justice Programs since 2013. (And while we’re editing, how…Read More…

Click here to see somebody die

Would you click to watch someone die? Maybe you just did. The proliferation of cameras—smartphone, news, surveillance, security, webcams, dashboard, GoPro, cops’ body-cams, and “old fashioned” digital models—means the moment of death will increasingly be captured. And the wildly unpredictable moral compass of social media and web content means more of those images will be…Read More…

Amazon puts MORGUE in Top 10 for May!

A week after Goodreads picked MORGUE: A LIFE IN DEATH among its best May books, Amazon has named it one of the 10 Best Nonfictions hitting the shelf this month! These are marvelous endorsements for MORGUE (St. Martin’s Press), which officially hits the shelf on May 17. Co-authored with Dr. Vincent Di Maio, one of the world’s most acclaimed medical examiners,…Read More…

Goodreads picks MORGUE for May!

Goodreads has recommended MORGUE: A LIFE IN DEATH among its best May books! This is a coveted honor. If you’re among the 39 million (or so) active and engaged readers who get Goodreads newsletters, please take the hint. Co-authored with Dr. Vincent Di Maio, one of the world’s most acclaimed medical examiners, this book offers a rare glimpse behind the…Read More…

How many murder victims can you name?

Because you’re here right now, it’s safe to assume you’re fairly conversant in matters of mass- and serial-killing. You know your Mansons from your Bundys, right? Well, it’s Monday and you’ve got a tough week ahead, so here’s something fun—in a macabre sorta way—to distract you from your nasty, binge-watching obsession with “Making a Murderer.”…Read More…

Can you spot the killer?

      Winston Mosely murdered New York bartender Kitty Genovese in an infamous 1964 knife attack that raised questions about the role of bystanders in crime. When he died in prison this week at age 81, his old mug shot (far left in the lineup above) was splashed across the Internet and  we all thought simultaneously, “Yep,…Read More…

Coming in April ’17!
Outlaw Los Angeles

“Meticulously researched guide book into the baddest of the bad in LaLa Land. Franscell confirms what history has always known: Los Angeles is the ‘Queen of Angels’ and the ‘King of Devils.’  Highly recommended!” —STEVE HODEL, NYTimes bestselling author of “Black Dahlia Avenger” and former LAPD homicide detective   Los Angeles is where America’s dreams and…Read More…

Eyeball tattoos (and other prison brainstorms)

If you brushed your teeth this morning before settling down to read whatever fascinating new material was posted at ronfranscell.com, you unwittingly celebrated a prison inmate. That’s right. In 1770, British merchant William Addis was doing time for causing a riot. That’s when he decided that the customary tooth-cleaning of his day—rubbing your teeth with…Read More…

The day I planted Dermot Healy’s potatoes

The potato patch behind Dermot Healy’s stone cottage wasn’t much bigger than a parking space, but the Irish winter had left it dog-eared and bedraggled. “The first thing,” Dermot said as he handed me the spade, “is to turn the soil.” I’d come to Ireland to research a novel. Without a drop of Irish blood in…Read More…