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…

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…

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 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…

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…

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…

Canadian producer developing TV series on MORGUE

Pixcom, an international production company based in Montreal, has optioned our book MORGUE: A LIFE IN DEATH—co-authored with world-renowned medical examiner Dr. Vincent Di Maio—for a true-crime TV series, the company announced today. “Pixcom is growing its true crime offering, and we’re excited to partner with powerhouse talent like Dr. Vincent Di Maio and Ron…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…