True Crime A To Z: V

Welcome to Best Evidence’s crime-alphabet project! Not sure what this is? Start at the beginning! And don’t be afraid to fill in our blanks...

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Predictably, the panel struggled a bit with the end of the alphabet, and I thought we’d see some X-esque stretches here — or four mentions of the Valentine’s Day Massacre. Instead, it’s authors, Canadian TV movies, and…well, there’s just no getting away from Bundy. As it were.

Kevin Smokler: Maryanne Vollers. In my mind, Maryanne Vollers is the Velvet Undergound of true-crime journalists. She's not popularly known but just as all of the Underground’s devoted fans were said to have started bands themselves, I'd like to believe that everyone who has read Vollers’s book-length examinations of the murder of Civil Rights activist Medgar Evers and the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing has been both inspired by their rigor, intelligence, and grace, and motivated to believe their beauty could belong to us all.

SDB: Vanity Fair. I’ve had a subscription on and off since the ’80s, and between Dominick Dunne’s breathlessly whispered inside dirt from high-profile L.A. trials, and the determined coverage of malfeasance and murder among the so-rich-you-never-heard-of-them and famous, VF’s true-crime coverage was another gateway into the genre — not as well written as The New Yorker’s take on the same cases, perhaps, but propulsive and packed with glossy pics, and many of the authors have turned up in this overview already (Orth, Toobin, et al.). If rainy weather kills your outdoorsy weekend plans, great news: I’ve got just the archive-hole for you. (Honorable mentions: American Crime Story’s beautiful, horrifying Versace season; Operation Varsity Blues, which has brought us so much schadenfreudic joy over the last year; and Volkswagen Beetles. How goddamn titanium a brand do you have to have that the association with Ted Bundy does nothing to crimp your public image?)

Susan Howard: Villisca Axe Murders. The notorious and 1912 murder of an Iowa family, still unsolved. (Honorable mention: The Vampire of Sacramento.)

Margaret Howie: The Boys of St. Vincent (1992). One of the first films to deal with the Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal (the other was 1990’s Judgement), this two-part Canadian TV movie won awards worldwide. The lead performance of Henry Czerny as Brother Peter Lavin still gives chills nearly thirty years later.

True Crime A To Z is available to all subscribers…and we’d love your feedback! Comment on our picks, and tell an interested friend!

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