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The Fascinating History of the True Crime Genre

by Nathan Zachary
The Fascinating History of the True Crime Genre

The history of the true crime genre can be found in the earlier 16th century when the criminal justice system and the printing press were developed. These narratives were deliberated to be accessible only to the upper ranks, the only group that could afford them back then. Graphic portrayals of gruesome fierceness were quite common in these early literary works, and moralities were profoundly highlighted. Those were some of the early best crime book series that depicted enthralling stories for readers who could also grasp plenty of knowledge and learn something from them. Usually, the cases and murders trials that adapted the novel version were based on multiple killings and deaths in one family. The main emphasis of these narratives was the innocent victims, and the main ethics of the stories was grounded on some horrifying sin that needs punishment, which highlights the religious importance of these early murder true crime books stories.

Following these early tales, the 1800s witnessed the rise of true detective crime stories, which flagged the way for non-fiction crime as an official genre and amplified its literary significance. Then, penny dreadfuls arrived that provided economic, mass-produced series for a younger audience, further moving the needle to well-educated working-class men. These books introduced graphic gore elements and provided a reasonably priced, digestible layout of offensive material to amuse people with busy plans. Finally, these easy-to-engulf forms of true crime thriller content surfaced the way of present-day tabloids, paperback novels, and hit television shows.

Non-Fiction Crime Novels Evolved With long Historical Archives

The history of the crime thriller books series is easily discerned from the 16th Century when many book editors and journalists in the U.K. produced pamphlets that particularly reported on criminal acts. Poems and prose were also composed to report on the events of criminals’ delinquencies across the nation.

Many of these non-fiction works symbolized vague perceptions of the crimes, which were then sensationalized to sell them in the proper form of manuscripts. This finally became a fine writing style and is now extensively predominant in the true-crime genre.

Crime Literature in the 19th Century

Crime literature exclusively made scandalous tirades and booklets to continue the process of circulation in England and the U.S. throughout the 19th century, even as the penny press familiarized prevalent crime reporting. As in previous centuries, domestic killings and bloodshed vastly conquered news coverage, and a new trend in crime fiction writing emerged significantly. Renowned writers became progressively engrossed in crime literature as a site of aesthetic, social and scientific investigation. But, famous reform-minded authors like Charles Dickens (“A Visit to Newgate,” 1836) and William Thackeray (“Going to See a Man Hanged,” 1840) criticized the institutional penalties of the era.

Crime Literature in the 20th Century

In the early 20th Century, non-fiction crime literature gained colossal popularity because of radio and television developments. As a result, many stories became widely popular; among them is ‘the story of Lizzie Borden’, a woman who was accused (later found non-guilty) of killing her parents with an axe in 1892. This case reached the top highlights of the bulletin, and numerous speculations were made about this case. The trial was broadly reported in America, and numerous non-fiction crime books and essays were printed based on this crime.

Crime literature another huge upsurge in popularity was during the 1990s after the great success of the true-crime detective film Silence of the Lambs. The movie was a redrafted copy of the famous book The Silence of the Lambs (1988) by author Thomas Harris. This gave a new awareness to people in stories about serial murderers and how the detectives cleverly caught them. This stirred interest led FBI profiler John Douglas to publish his famous work Mindhunter (1995), a non-fiction crime book dedicated to his actual meetings interviewing gruesome serial killers. Douglas’ novel rose with huge triumph, and in 2017, it was adapted by Netflix in the form of a hit TV series.

True Crime Origins in the 21st Century

It is an indisputable fact that the 21st Century was when non-fiction crime books rose to the highest brink of triumph and became more widely popular than ever before. The surge of internet streaming services and the podcast set-up has ultimately led to numerous non-fiction crime content being published than ever before if compared to previous eras. A contemporary-style, true crime page-turner book ‘Know What Cops Know’ is written by actual police officers and authors Chief William G. Palmini Jr. and Tanya Chalupa’. It describes riveting stories of real police works and crimes that keep the readers hooked from start to end!

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