I Am Looking For A Criminally Good Serial…

No, not quite the kind of book serial you might be thinking! Along with most of the world, well ok maybe not the world, I have become a huge, huge addict to the Serial podcast. For those of you who don’t know what Serial is, it is is a podcast where a nonfiction story unfolds week by week, over the course of a season. This season, or series as we like to say on this side of the water, we have been following journalist Sarah Koenig as she looks at the case of the murder of Hae Min Lee who disappeared  on January the 13th 1999 and whose body was found a month later, her ex boyfriend Adnan Syed was then arrested, tried and convited for her murder. Many people don’t think he did it and the case didn’t add up, Sarah investigates.

When I first heard the buzz, and indeed for the first episode or two, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. Firstly I wasn’t sure that I liked the idea of someone making a show (and potentially money) out of someone’s murder. Secondly, could it really become a story I was genuinely going to get intrigued by? Well, I have to say that I think the case is handled really well, obviously some of it is upsetting yet the Serial team don’t treat the whole case as mere sensationalism and actually hearing from the people who the case affected gives it both an emotional impact and poignancy. I have also become completely hooked, I cannot work out what the truth is – without any spoilers I will simply say I am at the point where we are working out what the deal about Jay is.


So I was thinking, especially as it looks like the first season will be coming to a close in the next week or so, what books out there might have the same effect on me as Serial? I imagine that many people will be looking at their screens and saying ‘erm, pick up a crime series Simon’ and yes there is that option, yet as someone who reads possibly too many that I can’t always keep up crime series I do love them but Serial does something a little bit extra. You see as you listen along you are given snippets of evidence, testimony, etc of a case that has already happened that you feel you are investigating with Sarah. Plus it is a real case. So I am wondering if I should be turning to (not literally) some true crime myself? I am sure there are lots of Serial fans who feel the same, and I have a limited range of true crime I can recommend (mainly Victorian murders) so I wondered what you would all recommend? Oh and if you too area Serial fan let me know, though no spoilers obvs.


Filed under Random Savidgeness

12 responses to “I Am Looking For A Criminally Good Serial…

  1. Simon, Yes, I listen to Serial. I just caught up last night. I know that Ann Rule writes true crime. If I read her, it was a lo-ong time ago. Maybe we should both try her and compare notes. I know that I own at least one of her books.
    Are you going to be able to come to a Booktopia this year?

  2. I tried to listen to first two episodes but it did nothing for me; I don’t really get on with listening things (radio, podcasts, audio books) but I can understand the appeal.

    You might like Janet Malcolm. She writes some amazing true crime stuff in a narrative non-fiction style. I highly recommend her classic The Journalist and the Murderer.

  3. poppypeacockpens

    Hi Simon I too have found Serial compelling… Have heard very good things about Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences (Penguin Modern Classics)

  4. Ann

    Oh Simon— any book by Ann Rule. She writes about true crime. Her first being the Ted Bundy book – because he was her neighbor – so she knew him personally. I guarantee you will love her books.

  5. I’ve just begun listening to Serial and I’m sure I will be hooked soon 🙂 I also would recommend Ann Rule. I’ve read a couple of hers, most recently The Stranger Beside Me, which is the one about Ted Bundy. I highly recommend it.

  6. I’m also addicted to Serial and will be sad when the season is over. Columbine by Dave Burns is one of the best true crime books I’ve ever read. And if you are looking for novels try After I’m Gone by Laura Lippman – completely gripping and well-written.

  7. Oh sorry, it is Dave CULLEN.

  8. love it really hope his case gets a new hearing seems so wrong he was sent away on so little can’t wait to see where they take the next series

  9. Deb Baker a.k.a. @DaisyBaker on Twitter

    This is off the radar but a really good read: “After Visiting Friends: A Son’s Story” by Michael Hainey. True story, a cover-up. Evidence that doesn’t make sense. Michael’s father died under mysterious circumstances when Michael was a young boy. As a grown man, he uses his newspaper reporting skills to figure out what happened.

    It reminds me of “Serial” in that witnesses memories don’t jibe, no one wants to be the bearer of bad news, and the inconsistencies are maddening.

    • “After Visiting Friends” isn’t completely off the radar because I read it, too and agree that it would be a good tie-in. I believe I saw it on some “best” list, too. That book was intriguing.
      Ann Kingman often recommends “Shot in the Heart” by Mikal Gilmore whose brother was executed for crimes (murders) he committed.

  10. carl

    One of my favourites is Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit ) by
    John Douglas, one of the pioneers of behavioural profiling at the FBI.

  11. Jae

    What about Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. Ann from Books on the Nightstand had it on her top 5 books of 2014 and it’s somewhat of a murder mystery about a family and who killed a young woman so it has that in common with Serial. Granted I haven’t heard any Serial because I don’t want to get hooked/addicted and get nothing done so I’m not sure if this book would be anything like it.

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