A 2010 study found that women like true crime disproportionately more then men because they have a heightened fear of crime—they want to learn how to prevent being a victim, how to survive being a victim, warning signs to watch for, and escape tips and survival strategies. I find that so insulting. Not to speak on behalf of womankind or anything, but we’re the opposite of scared—we’re captivated, and we want to douse ourselves in stories of the unthinkable. There are so many reasons we love true crime, and fear is not one of them. So I write this manifesto in the name of all true crime lovers. We do not cower when we read; our eyes widen, our minds are blown, and we turn, turn, turn the page. This is #whywelovetruecrime:
We love true crime because it’s scary, and it’s true, unlike stories from our other favorite books, Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark. We’re fascinated with other things, too—dinosaurs, the constellations, the pyramids—we are hungry, we are curious.
We love true crime because maybe we’re a little masochistic. We like to be uncomfortable and put ourselves in semi-dangerous situations, and with our wild imaginations, reading about crime is as close as we can get.
We love true crime not because we are dazzled by blood or the violence of the crime—it’s the emotional and psychological state of the killer that gets us. It’s the same reason we love soap operas, Unsolved Mysteries, The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills, and romance novels.
We love true crime because it makes us feel like we’re on a roller coaster.
We love true crime because most true crime books involve love stories, which we like, but straight-up romance can be a bit over-the-top. These romances are a slap in the face to the ones that are all cheese.
We love true crime because (not to sound sick, but), in a way, true crime is a fantasy that we don’t ever want to happen—it’s an escape. We want to see how far a writer can take us, how far the truth can take us, and to test ourselves to see if we can handle it. Fantasy books didn’t actually happen. So what’s the point? From true crime, we feel that we can learn something.
We love true crime because criminal law is captivating. It’s why we can watch eighteen straight hours of Law & Order.
We love true crime because each story is a puzzle and a mystery.
We love true crime because we seek knowledge and information—not on how to gouge an attacker’s eyes out, but how to read people and personalities. Who’s a narcissist? (All of them.) What kind of people tend to be victims? How do we get ourselves into these situations?
We love true crime because the (often unanswered) question of whodunit KEEPS US UP AT NIGHT.
Why do you love true crime?