True Crime A To Z: Z

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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We did it! Twenty-six letters and, in my humble opinion, not a weak outing in the bunch; I threw a whole bunch of things on my reading list, for sure. Thanks so much to my esteemed panel for contributing, and to you readers for adding your own suggestions. Please keep doing so! And now, the end of the line: Z.

Kevin Smokler: Zoot Suit. The 1979 play by Luis Valdez dramatizing police abuse of Mexican-American young men in Los Angeles in early June 1943 was a landmark of Chicano theater, the first production written by a Latin-American on Broadway. Valdez would go on to direct his play's film adaptation, as well as the movie La Bamba, and found the film department at Cal State Monterey Bay. He received the National Medal of Arts in 2015. 

SDB: Joshua Zeman. Weirdly, I probably had more prospective entries competing for pride of place here than for any other letter, in the sense that they all seemed equally strong — but since I knew someone in this fine brace of colleagues would pick Zodiac, I’ve gone with Zeman, the mind behind Cropsey, Killer Legends, The Killing Season, and Murder Mountain. With or without producer Rachel Mills, Zeman has a way of letting viewers learn the stories alongside him that’s a lot harder to do than he makes it look. And if you grew up in the tri-state in the late seventies and early eighties, Cropsey is a must-watch. (Honorable mentions: Zodiac; Abraham Zapruder; Mike “These Are Their Stories” Zirkilton; Zac Efron as Bundy.)

Susan Howard: Zodiac. David Fincher’s masterpiece stands out in a sea of content on the most famous unsolved murder spree in modern history.

Margaret Howie: “The Zankou Chicken Murders,” Mark Arax, 2008.

A Greek tragedy about Armenians in California, this story of family murder entwined with family business is unforgettable. A story of immigration, parenthood, and how to enrapture the palate of Los Angeles, it brings together several contemporary obsessions: crime, nepotism, and food. Arax’s close access to the family provides depth to the story, which isn’t as simple as anyone would like it to be. Not to mention it’s the best advertisement for shawarma since Tony Stark. (Honorable mention: your dads.)

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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