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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

It’s here!
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…

‘Lost’ pieces of ‘The Darkest Night’

Tomorrow, THE DARKEST NIGHT celebrates eight years since it was first published in paperback. Almost immediately it became a bestseller and readers continue to find it in great numbers today. It’s not because I am an extraordinary storyteller, but because this powerful story of two girls’ terror moves anyone who hears it to want to…Read More…

The Black Dahlia dissected again

Today, it’s been 69 years since Elizabeth Short’s grisly parts were discovered in a vacant Los Angeles subdivision, sliced cleanly in half and posed lasciviously. This obscure waitress suddenly became far more famous in death than the Black Dahlia (as we know her now) ever dreamed in her brief life. Breathing, she was just another pretty face. In chunks…Read More…