Sara Gruen · Crucifixion · Mario Rossi

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I draw the line at five pages. That is, five pages of item ideas for Best Evidence, which is what we’re at right now. So today’s issue is one of our periodic clearing-the-decks ones, packed with links to stories that we think you’ll love. Let’s get into it. — EB

Hey, don’t forget…if this rundown of stories is something that you think other people might enjoy, it’s easy to forward this issue to anyone you’d like. And if they like it, heck, maybe they'll subscribe? That’s how this thing is supposed to work, as we understand it.

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  • Doctoring the Evidence: True Crime 2021 [Publishers Weekly]

    PW runs down three upcoming/new books that approach true crime from the medical angle, from doctors gone wrong to innovations in forensic science. And YES, there is grave robbing: in The Icepick Killer, author Sam Kean gets into “the so-called anatomy riots of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, a response to the practice of grave robbing to provide cadavers for American medical schools.” According to Kean, doctors “needed cadavers to learn anatomy. Otherwise, medicine would never advance. But in practice, they mostly robbed the graves of poor people and minorities. So those people finally rose up and began rioting and attacking hospitals. Sadly, we still see the same huge disparities in medicine today.”

  • The Marshall Project is experimenting with snail mail to reach incarcerated people [Nieman Lab]

    The criminal justice-focused Marshall Project is working with a non-profit startup called Ameelio, which (per TechCrunch) “hopes to step in and provide free communication options to inmates” by helping people send letters in the mail. That includes a small-scale pilot that allows people to send news articles in the mail to folks currently in prison (the same way your mom clicks on an “email this story” button now). Elan Kiderman, director of product at The Marshall Project, says that “It’s too early to say what this experiment will lead to, but the more we can expand channels of communication, the more we can produce journalism that directly responds to the questions and needs of people inside, the more we can learn about injustices in prisons and jails.”

  • Bloodthirsty Grandmas, Murderous Masterminds — Oxygen's Serial Killer Week Has It All [Oxygen]

    Will I watch some of Oxygen’s programming from Saturday April 10 to Sunday April 18, the period it’s designating as “Serial Killer Week”? Honestly, it depends what else is on: My dislike of how gleeful its promotion of the programming block is might keep me from tuning into what Oxygen calls “the biggest event for true crime lovers this spring.” The damnable thing is that a lot of the programming interests me: there’s a new interview with Seinfeld punch line Joel Rifkin that I’m intrigued by, and Murders at the Boarding House, on the Dorothea Puente case, is up my alley. But this Shark Weekness annoys me so! Not sure what I’ll do here.

  • How Sara Gruen Lost Her Life [Vulture]

    This is an absolutely mad story about the author of bestselling book Water for Elephants, whose “casual investigation of an old murder case bloomed into a frenzied obsession,” costing her her health and her savings. I am not going to say anything else because the whole saga is just so so bizarre. But I can’t wait to discuss it with you, so…

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  • True Crime Gets Its Close-Up [New York Times]

    The NYT rounds up several recent true-crime books, all written by women and all focused on female protagonists. So happy Women’s History Month I guess? Anyway, I just reserved all three books at my local library, and after reading these brief reviews, you might, too.

  • My Novel Reopened A Cold Case. My True Crime Book Puts Ghosts To Rest. [CrimeReads]

    Novelist Stephanie Kane veered from fictional to real crime for her latest book, which is called Cold Case Story. According to Kane, the 1973 crime at the core of the book provided the inspiration for her first novel, but years after it was published, she actually ended up “a target of the defense,” as the suspect in a slaying said that she participated in a confession-eliciting scheme as a plot to sell more books. So now she’s returned to the case, writing up every fact she could uncover, in large part, it seems, to quell guilt she feels over fictionalizing the case in the first place. — EB

Friday on Best Evidence: Still mulling a discussion topic — if you have one you’d like us to tackle, comment or call us at 919-75-CRIME.

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