Fascination with stories of crime, criminals, detectives, and victims existed long before our current true crime boom. Alongside it runs an equally persistent uneasiness — what is it that draws us to stories of violence, and what are we hoping to find there? In this discussion, we’ll explore some of the knotty ethical dimensions of true crime writing, including questions of voyeurism and exploitation; power, race, gender, and policing; and the vexed role of the victim. Additionally, we’ll look closely at excerpts from contemporary writers who take crime as their subject.
Rachel Monroe is a contributing writer at The New Yorker, where she covers Texas and the Southwest. Previously, she was a contributing writer at The Atlantic and has also written for the New York Times Magazine, New York, Esquire, Harper’s, and many other publications. Her first book, “Savage Appetites: True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession,” was published in 2019; it was named a New York Times Editor’s Choice, and a Best Book of the Year by the Chicago Tribune, Esquire, and Jezebel. She lives in Marfa, Texas.