Lend me your ears! Audiobook of ‘Alice & Gerald’ is out

One of America’s most notable audiobook producers—Dreamscape Media—has just released the Audible audio edition of my newest true crime, “Alice & Gerald: A Homicidal Love Story“ (2019, Prometheus Books). The CD version is expected to land by July 23. The audio edition is narrated by actor Chris Lutkin, an actor, director, writer, and teacher in…Read More…

10 Mugshot Tips for Your Next Arrest

Police have taken mugshots of accused criminals almost since the beginning of photography. Why? So they’ll recognize you when you commit future crimes … and for their never-ending amusement. But there’s a real art to posing for a great mugshot. So, we present this rogue’s gallery for your education. And may the rest of you…Read More…

Who’ll write the first true crime about murder in outer space?

It’s Hollywood sci-fi stuff. A simmering personal feud between two astronauts plays out across the frozen Martian crust … or maybe there’s a rape in the claustrophobic quarters of the International Space Station … or ooh-ooh, a celestial serial killer is loose on Uranus. And inevitably, a drunken, cynical galactic detective and his mismatched sidekick…Read More…

10 Crime Myths You Probably Believe

Between your gullibility, urban legends and Hollywood, you’ve swallowed a lot of, um, bull about crime, cops, and courts. You’ve consumed so much crapola that I’m surprised you aren’t on Ducky’s slab. But here are some fabrications, fables, and fairy tales about forensics and felonious foolishness (not to mention wrongful alliteration) that you’ve accepted as…Read More…

Alice Barbier Uden (1939-2019)

I won’t try to eulogize Alice Uden. Her life sentence ended this week when she died at age 80, still being punished for one of the four—probably five—murders she either committed herself or took part in carrying out. Children and grandchildren know what she did, and they are horrified. They also remember her as a…Read More…

Before #MeToo, there was Fatty Arbuckle

Nine years ago, HBO announced that “Modern Family” star Eric (“Cam”) Stonestreet had been signed to play Hollywood’s most tragic funnyman Fatty Arbuckle in a new a biopic. Since then—and possibly because of the rise of the #MeToo movement—the project has been deep in “development hell” since 2011 and might never see the light of…Read More…

Miss V’s closing arguments

In the beginning there was Miss V. That’s how Mary Vandeventer was known to her high school English students, partly because it was easier than pronouncing her last name and partly because they felt a kind of kinship, even then. Young and only a few years out of college, Miss V wasn’t terribly older than…Read More…

10 Texas Crime Facts You Didn’t Know

Texas is so big that its long history of crime—from outlaw days to today—is damn near impossible to know completely. The hard part of compiling a list of 10 obscure Texas crime facts is eliminating dozens of others! But here’s a fascinating collection to keep even the most dedicated crime buff busy for a while.…Read More…

The mystery of Harper Lee’s lost true-crime book

Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep (Knopf) is actually two parallel stories: One about a real-life 1970s murder mystery, and the other about a beloved author’s frustrated dream to write her own version of her friend Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood.” Lee was uncomfortable with Capote’s “nonfiction…Read More…

What’s in your DNA? Just a killer grandma? Or gold for exploiters?

At dinner recently with an IT professional, the conversation drifted into our inexorable plunge toward the mass retailing of our privacy—from intimate data collected by smartphones, Alexa, and your own TV to the government and corporate seizure of utterly innocent people’s DNA profiles. Soon, everything you know, everything you want, everything you talk about, everywhere…Read More…

10 Songs for Every Writer’s Playlist

A lot of writers like background music while they tap out their stories. A lot don’t. So, for those writers who prefer silence, please skip to my blog about the “15 Best Places for Writers to Retire.” And fergawdsakes, don’t listen to the rest of this little ditty. But for those scribblers who prefer a…Read More…

Rainbow’s End?

This is a love story desperately seeking an end. Almost every day for the past 17 years, Babe Rainbow has looked for one face in the crowd that passes his corner. He sees her face in his mind, framed against hazy memories of San Francisco’s Haight Street in the Sixties. That picture flickers through his…Read More…

Mass killers often care less about ‘who’ than ‘how many’

At least one person was killed and eight others were wounded when shooters opened fire Tuesday inside a suburban Denver middle school. Two suspects—an adult man and a juvenile girl—have been arrested. During a wider-ranging press conference today, a visibly angry District Attorney George Brauchler implored the media to show restraint when reporting the names…Read More…

10 Wyoming Crime Facts You Didn’t Know

A killer’s dead eyeballs? A truant teenager who kills a mass murderer? A lady serial killer? You’ve been warned. Reading this list will probably change the way you think about the relative safety of Wyoming. Here are 10 sometimes disturbing—and always fascinating—crime-related facts about the Cowboy State you’ve probably never heard of. 10. THE EYES…Read More…

Fathers playing catch with sons

My son’s eyes brightened when he saw his new baseball glove. He was about to start a sort of pre-school for Little Leaguers, and he buried his face in the smell of new leather. He’s only 4 and he’s only tossed a ball in the backyard, but his very own glove was too much. “I…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…

And now, the road.

The Author is fond of researching a new story. The Author is delighted to write that story. But most of all, The Author loves—truly, madly, deeply—being among readers. This weekend, The Author lights out for parts west to tour with his new story. He’ll stop in a half-dozen places to talk about the book, read…Read More…

15 Best Places for Writers to Retire

What writer wouldn’t want to live on “Ernest Heming Way”? We love the irony or whatever it is. Nobody really knows what irony means. Anyway, as I approach the official retirement age for normal people who dress for work every morning, I wondered about the best places a writer might spend his golden years. After…Read More…

Die different.

“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.” —Jack Kerouac, “The Dharma Bums” A long time ago, in another life, I sat with Jan Kerouac, the writer/daughter of Jack, on the bare-wood floor of her unfurnished, rented apartment. I was interviewing her for a story—and maybe for a little enlightenment—about where…Read More…

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…