A ghost in the machine, by Ron Franscell

Twenty years ago, in 1999, the Chicago Sun-Times’ legendary book editor Henry Kisor—who had fallen in love with my first novel Angel Fire—asked me to be one of 10 American authors who, upon the centennial of Ernest Hemingway’s birth in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, would write about Papa’s life and influence. I was…Read More…

A crime. A boy. A teacher. And a hundred books.

“Up ahead they’s a thousand lives we might live, but when it comes, it’ll on’y be one.” The Grapes of Wrath Fourteen years ago, a couple Southeast Texas high school kids just wanted to score some weed. They were an odd couple. Garrett was a hardened gangbanger with a long juvie rap sheet and a bad reputation.…Read More…

Cry later.

Not long ago, I stood with my wife Mary at the Houston grave of murderous Texas mother Andrea Yates’ five children, whom she drowned in her bathtub. I was writing about Yates, who suffered a grim array of maladies, from post-partum depression to schizophrenia. I’m an old-school journalist. I believe deeply in “being there”—touching, smelling,…Read More…

Why I don’t care about Ted Bundy

The short answer My crime-writing friend Kevin Sullivan is the greatest living expert on Ted Bundy. He’s literally written an encyclopedia of everything Bundy. I have absolutely nothing to add. The long answer Yesterday, the sister of a toddler murdered in 1964 by a serial killer you’ve never heard of emailed me. The slaying had…Read More…

Let me tell you about my first time

I started reading young. I fell in crazy-mad love with books, or at least became addicted to the way they made me feel.  I began to wish that I could use words to make other people feel things, too. So I wrote vivid (if imperfect) grade-schooler epics in spiral notebooks, then worked on every campus…Read More…

Tour dates for new true crime book ‘Alice & Gerald’

Now you can meet Ron Franscell, the Edgar-nominated author of “Alice & Gerald: A Homicidal Love Story”—a new true-crime book ripped from Wyoming headlines—at readings, Q&A, and free book signings April 10-15 in San Antonio, Casper, Cheyenne, Riverton, Lander, and Douglas. The appearance schedule is 4/10 Casper, 4/11 Cheyenne, 4/12 Riverton and Lander, and 4/15…Read More…

Alice & Gerald: A Homicidal Love Story

Coming April 9 / Pre-order now16 pages of color photosAvailable in trade paperback, ebook, and audio Would you kill for love?  ALICE & GERALD tells the grisly story of a loving couple who killed at least four people, and lived happily ever after—while cops desperately tried for decades to piece together a petrifying tale of murder…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…

5 Yuletide Crimes: Death doesn’t take a holiday

The song says it’s the most wonderful time of the year—but it has historically been a lot less wonderful for some. Crime doesn’t take a holiday. In fact, evil celebrates those the days between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, too. You already know that burglars, muggers, identity thieves, and carjackers run rampant during the holidays,…Read More…

Atticus Finch and the #MeToo movement

You know the story: A young lawyer named Atticus Finch is appointed to defend a black man against rape charges in Depression-era Alabama. His defense is vigorous, but ultimately futile (at least in the courtroom). The forces of racism arrayed against him were simply insurmountable. In the end, the accused and the accuser die violently…Read More…

Stealing pennies from dead kids’ eyes

“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” —Rahm Emanuel, Obama aide and Chicago mayor Today, the Left is outraged that the Right has instantly politicized the murder of Iowa coed Mollie Tibbetts by a reported illegal Mexican immigrant. Tomorrow (or at least soon enough) the Right will be outraged that the Left…Read More…

A father, a son, and the longest day

Excerpted from “The Sourtoe Cocktail Club,” by Ron Franscell (Globe Pequot Press, 2011). While Matt sleeps, I watch the subtly changing sky as the sun circles around to the north on the longest day of the year. The clouds are breaking up and patches of blue are oozing through. The day is warming. I smell…Read More…

Is true crime as entertainment morally defensible?

I’ve been writing true crime for 10 years. I confess to occasional pangs that I am reopening wounds for a few people, but the old-school journalist in me rationalizes that these stories can have a universal, positive, human impact to the greater society. Whether they reflect something in us that we should (and don’t want…Read More…

Just hanging out at the library

In my hometown of Casper WY, the Natrona County Public Library is celebrating local authors such as CJ Box, Craig Johnson … and me … with colorful banners along the main street through the city. Most writers aren’t comfortable with larger-than-life depictions of themselves—although maybe it’s just me—but this feels like a cool way to…Read More…

For writers, endings are beginnings

“I hate writing; I love having written.” —Dorothy Parker Once upon a time, early-day typesetters recognized the end of a newspaper story when they saw “XXX” at the bottom of a reporter’s typed page. Since “XXX” was also Latin for the number 30, the end of a typewritten story came to be signified by “-30-”…Read More…

DARKEST NIGHT among 10 Most Underrated TC books, says website

A popular crime website and podcast has rated THE DARKEST NIGHT one of the 10 Most Underrated modern true-crime books. TheLineUp.com put the story of the horrendous 1973 abduction, rape, and murder at the Fremont Canyon Bridge near Casper WY among its favorite must-reads. Over the years, sensational court cases that scandalized a community might…Read More…

Old West serial killer

In 1868 in the boomtown of South Pass City, Polly Bartlett ran a boarding house … where she reportedly liquored up a couple dozen travelers and poised them with arsenic-laced steaks. A vigilante killed her in jail and she’s buried in an unmarked grave in the town cemetery, which is still there.Read More…