Before Vegas and Orlando, there was Luby’s Cafeteria

The entire restaurant was eerily silent, except for the pop-pop-pop of George Hennard’s guns and his profane ranting. Frightened diners hid the best they could, sometimes protected by nothing more than the hands covering their heads, hoping not to attract the killer’s attention. Paralyzed by fear. Waiting quietly to die. —from DELIVERED FROM EVIL (2011)…Read More…

The flags of our killers

In the last couple football seasons, Americans have exhausted a lot of very personal energy arguing about our flag. What it stands for. Whether it’s bigger than us. What respect it deserves. Ex-quarterback Colin Kaepernick might have ignited a wildfire that illuminated the differences in our patriotism, and it continues, zero percent uncontrolled. In a…Read More…

Waxing Brazilian … a new edition

Ponder the enigma of a writer who can’t read the words he’s strung together. No, I’m not having a stroke. I simply cannot speak, read, or write Portuguese. And that’s the language of the newest translation of my 2016 book MORGUE A LIFE IN DEATH, with famed medical examiner Dr. Vincent Di Maio. O SEGREDO…Read More…

The day the sun didn’t set for a father and a son

June 21, 2007 Somewhere in the Arctic on a day when the sun never sets While Matt sleeps, I watch the subtly changing sky as the sun circles around to the north.  The clouds are breaking up and patches of blue are oozing through.  The day is warming.  I smell spruce, woodsmoke and musky earth. …Read More…

Every generation has its bogeyman

Excerpted from The Crime Buff’s Guide to Outlaw Los Angeles (2017, WildBluePress)   Every generation has its bogeyman. Before 1969, maybe it was Adolf Hitler. After 2001, Osama bin Laden. But for those 30 or so years in between it was unquestionably an aspiring musician, deeply damaged outlaw, and hippie Svengali named Charles Manson. On…Read More…

Explore Outlaw L.A. with us at True Crime Uncensored

Listen live at 2pm Pacific time on Saturday, June 10, by clicking here. Where better to kick off the new CRIME BUFF’S GUIDE™ TO OUTLAW LOS ANGELES than at the Los Angeles-based True Crime Uncensored radio show, hosted by the legendary Burl Barer.  Los Angeles is where America’s dreams and nightmares got all tangled up. Sunny days dissolved…Read More…

Bye, buddy

Cagney May 17, 2000 ~ May 14, 2017   I am suddenly jealous of anyone whose dog dies abruptly and young, because although they felt a different kind of pain, this was the kind of long goodbye they never had to say. We were improved, indeed, by Cagney’s presence in our life. Dogs are not human,…Read More…

Join us at San Antonio Book Festival this weekend!

So many books, so little time. On Saturday, I will be both an author and a reader (two things I seldom do at the same time). I’m privileged to be among the authors who’ll speak at the 5th Annual San Antonio Book Festival—one of the USA’s fastest rising book events—about our bestseller MORGUE: A LIFE IN…Read More…

Everything I need to know, I learned in Little League

Essayist Robert Fulghum once surmised that everything he ever needed to know he learned in kindergarten, but I was a slow learner. Maybe Little League was just the beginning of my higher education, but everything else I ever needed to know I learned in the sandlot on endless summer days that simmered into night games…Read More…

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…