16 Pages of Shocking Photos! (Did you peek?)

WARNING: Some morgue and crime-scene photos appear in this essay. Funny story. Not long ago, I was telling a fascinating little yarn about the autopsy of a deranged killer whose body was riddled with more than 200 bullets after pursuing police cornered him at the end of one of modern America’s bloodiest massacres. Then my…Read More…

The radicalization of Luke Skywalker

A long time ago in a library far, far away, a mythologist named Joseph Campbell conceived the notion that all of humanity’s stories—from cavemen’s fire pits to religious myths to fairy tales—had certain similarities. They often shared reluctant heroes on quests that seemed slightly out of reach, thresholds to be crossed, mentors who guide us,…Read More…

Never lost. Always home.

We have lost the sense of story in most of our mass media. We express every unfinished thought, take pictures of our food and our cats and ourselves, share other people’s aphorisms. We convince ourselves that all we must know can be summarized in 144 characters. So when a genuine story comes along, it feels…Read More…

Miracle on County Road 34

The end of the year always inspires me to put things in order.  Last night, I was rearranging the scattered piles of books and papers in my office when I came across a rather ratty Christmas card from an old friend, a country acquaintance up north from back in another life. I thought I’d share…Read More…

Crime buffs only!

If you’re into true crime and history, you’ll love Ron’s Crime Buff’s Guides! There’s no better way to explore the crime history of places like Texas, Pennsylvania, Washington DC, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Maryland than following your GPS to the scenes of a thousand crimes. Coming in 2016—Outlaw Los Angeles!Read More…

The Ladder Guy

A long time ago, my parents were visiting for an early December weekend, a rare occasion since I’d moved north. But I had already committed to hanging the Christmas lights before the weather turned bitterly cold – which is when I normally put up my Christmas lights. My father asked if he could help and…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…

The origin of “hunker down”

Every hurricane season, two words pop up like a tropical depression in the Cape Verde Islands: hunker down. As a survivor of Hurricane Rita, which smashed into Gulf Coast Texas in 2005, those words became as natural to me as “please” and “thank you.” We hunkered down and prepared to cover a storm that promised…Read More…

We’ll always have mass murder

This essay was written just two days after the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre in 2012. It appears anew here now, with only minor updates. —RF This is America, dammit, and we have a God-given right to fool ourselves. The bodies of dead children hadn’t even been cleared from the classrooms at Sandy Hook Elementary before…Read More…

Mystery of the Booth Mummy

Ready to play Gumshoe? While researching THE CRIME BUFF’S GUIDE TO OUTLAW TEXAS, I came across the intriguing story of the long-lost mummy of John Wilkes Booth … or at least a fellow who claimed to be him. It all begins in 1870, five years after the Lincoln assassination, when a young man named John…Read More…

Morgue: A Life in Death

2017 EDGAR nominee! Now in US paperback from Picador and Portuguese edition from Darkside Press/Brazil Forensic science is booming. TV dramas, books and movies have made morgues cool. Complex technology and intricate research can take curdled blood, bone shards, and flakes of skin and turn them into justice. And Vincent Di Maio, MD, son of…Read More…

The Darkest Night

A modern true-crime classic! On a chilly autumn night in 1973, 11-year-old Amy Burridge eagerly rode with her 18-year-old sister, Becky, to a neighborhood grocery store in the small town of Casper, Wyoming. When they finished their shopping, they discovered a flat tire on Becky’s car. Two men politely offered them a ride home. But…Read More…

Angel Fire

  No. 74 among the 100 Best Novels of the 20th Century West San Francisco Chronicle A haunting tale of two brothers on separate odysseys of self-discovery. Twenty-four years after war correspondent Daniel McLeod is killed in a Viet Cong ambush, his only brother Cassidy is mysteriously drawn to their Wyoming hometown, where he must…Read More…

The Deadline

Among Top 25 Best Crime Fictions of 1999 POISONED PEN Former Chicago Tribune crime reporter Jefferson Morgan is living his life-long dream of running a weekly newspaper, The Winchester Bullet, in the Wyoming town where he grew up. But when an infamous child-murderer comes home to die and begs Morgan to help clear his name,…Read More…

The Obituary

When a world-renowned forensic anthropologist journeys to Winchester, Wyoming, to examine the long-dead remains of a woman who claimed to be Etta Place — the Old West’s most mysterious and legendary female outlaw — he’s not expecting to find a man’s headless corpse in her crypt. The grisly discovery plunges him and Jefferson Morgan —…Read More…

Delivered from Evil

True Stories of Ordinary People Who Faced Monstrous Mass Killers and Survived Who’ll speak for the dead in some of America’s deadliest mass killings? In rare instances, only the survivors can give voice to the horror of confronting monsters and living to tell about it. This book explores the survival experiences of 10 people who…Read More…

Evil at the Front Door

Part of the NYTimes bestselling Notorious USA series! Louisiana – famous for its Mardi Gras, spicy cuisine, and Dixieland jazz – is also the scene of some of the most notorious crimes in the country. Bestselling authors Ron Franscell and Rebecca Morris write about a sultry, Southern beauty who proved to be a deadly hitchhiker;…Read More…

Nightmare at Noon

Part of the NYTimes bestselling Notorious USA series! Everything is bigger in Texas—even murder. Two of America’s best crime writers, Ron Franscell and Gregg Olsen, team up to tell the stories of a serial killer who slaughtered more people than any other psychopath of his day … without ever being noticed; two of America’s most…Read More…

Southern Fried Crime

Boxed set of Notorious Texas, Louisiana & Mississippi! Evil lurks from the scorched earth of West Texas to the suffocating bayous of Mississippi … where darkness is deadly and screams go unheard. “Southern Fried Crime” comprises harrowing crime tales from Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, all from the files of the New York Times-bestselling Notorious USA…Read More…

Sourtoe Cocktail Club

The Yukon Odyssey of a Father and Son in Search of a Mummified Human Toe … and Everything Else When the author and his teenage son embark on a road trip to the Yukon to seek out a macabre cocktail containing an amputated human toe, they unwittingly begin a journey into their past, present and…Read More…

Outlaw Texas

Winner of 2010 EDITOR’S CHOICE AWARD TrueCrimeBookReviews.com Texas rightfully claims a celebrated place in the “wildest” West of both myth and reality, but nobody has ever written a travel guide to the many sites related to the Lone Star State’s renowned outlaw past … until now! Whether you’re a day-tripper, a true-crime buff or a…Read More…

Outlaw Rockies

‘The best damn crime travel series ever published!” Just like the popular CRIME BUFF’S GUIDE TO OUTLAW TEXAS, this quirky and fascinating travel book literally takes you to the scene of the crime with photos, maps, histories and GPS coordinates! From the Wild  Bunch and Tom Horn to Columbine and Ted Bundy, OUTLAW ROCKIES promises…Read More…

Outlaw Washington DC

Includes Maryland and northern Virginia Washington D.C. isn’t known as the “District of Crime” or “Murder Capital of America” for nothing. Though the capital city’s motto is “justice for all,” D.C. has a darker side, including an extensive history of crimes and misdemeanors, some political and some not. The Crime Buff’s Guide to Outlaw Washington…Read More…

Outlaw Pennsylvania

From America’s first school shooting in the 1700s to modern-day serial killers, a new book from a bestselling crime-writer and a local historian covers the fascinating gamut of mayhem in the Keystone State’s past. And it’s all there: Pennsylvania sites tied to the Sundance Kid, Doc Holliday, Ted Bundy, Al Capone, and Elliot Ness, among…Read More…