I’m of the belief that a good murder story should put you out of commission for a while. There is a storyworld to journey into, and it is a doozy. But most of what we get on a day-to-day basis is just cheap entertainment: lurid play-by-plays and gleeful reveling in the perpetrator’s villainy. In one of my favorite murder stories of 2012, Vanessa Veselka writes, ”It seems our profound fascination with serial killers is matched by an equally profound lack of interest in their victims.” The unifying theme of my 2012 picks is simply that these pieces honor the stories of the people who were wronged.
Delving into a murderer’s mind, not for kicks but for understanding
• “After the Massacre” by Lee Hancock (Dart Society)
The long view of Fort Hood, as seen by both the victims’ families and the shooter’s family
An anatomy of a wrongful execution
What’s wrong with the crime stats in Baltimore? “The Wire” creator David Simon on how to fix them, and how beat reporting is necessary to understand the problem:
So if you’ve read this far, and you understand the actual dynamic in play, you’re probably saying to yourself: What’s the solution? In the past, the detectives and lawyers simply swept their mistakes under the rug, with neither side taking responsibility for the bad stats. And now, because the state’s attorney has prevailed in this contest of statistical gamesmanship, the police department clearance rate has been savaged and some bad cases are no longer being charged, yet at the same time, good murder cases aren’t going forward. Which is worse? And how can this be fixed?
Well, it’s easy. And I’ll give you as long as it takes you to read past the next string of asterisks.