Is it a crime to enjoy true crime stories?
A 2022 Morning Consult survey revealed that three in four adults are true crime fans.
A 2019 Civic Science poll shows that 62% of Americans over 13 were either somewhat or very interested in true crime stories.
A June 2023 Pew Research study found that a third of U.S. adults listen to true crime podcasts. Of those, most are women.
Scott A. Bonn, writing in a June 2023 Psychology Today piece, estimates that women are 70% of true crime consumers and believes that’s because women empathize more with victims.
My husband detests true crime shows. I am fascinated by them. I can eat a ham sandwich or scrambled eggs while watching them.
He complains about the gore and violence and, when eating BLTs or macaroni salad, prefers more bucolic material. He’ll read about Assyrian massacres, Roman Empire persecutions, the French Revolution, World War I, Stalinist Russia and U.S. economic policy.
I admit that I can watch a show on forensics — including those that explore rigor mortis, blood spatter evidence and autopsies — even while eating a BLT.
I find the tools that investigators use to track down bad guys fascinating. It’s like a puzzle that clever good guys solve, bit by bit, to bring a sliver of justice to victims’ families.
My husband thinks my interest in crime stories is unhealthy.
I have never felt impelled to become a serial killer after reading about crime. Nor do I think I’ll take up kidnaping or stalking after watching a video on sociopath criminals. I have not even been tempted to poison my husband over morning coffee when he criticizes my reading choices.
I’m happy perusing a crime book while staying on the straight and narrow.
That doesn’t mean that delving into true crime doesn’t carry consequences. It does.
I find myself locking doors more often and checking my surroundings when exiting a car. I examine license plate numbers in the neighborhood. I’m more observant and careful.
There are, however, negative consequences, suspicion being the main one.
A couple of weeks ago, I found a bag of unfamiliar clothes on the floor of our hall closet, including lingerie that wasn’t mine.
When you read true crime books, you know that serial killers often take trophies from their crimes, and those trophies are often in the form of clothing items, especially underwear.
Also, wives of serial killers often have no clue that their husbands are out stalking and killing women in their spare moments.
As I peered into the bag of alien clothes, my mind began to spin. Could it be that my oh-so-innocent husband had a secret life? Could he really be out snatching lingerie when I thought he was playing noon ball?
How else could this bag of clothes appear in my hall closet?
Before I could check out the comings and goings of my Mr. Hyde, before I could track his movements, check his pockets, go through his papers, look for a false wall in the basement, search the attic for prisoners or listen for the movement of hostages, my daughter called to ask if I’d come across the dirty laundry she’d accidentally brought into my house instead of the coffee she meant to bring.
Why she’d been meaning to throw a bag of coffee onto the floor of the hall closet, I still don’t know, but I was relieved to find my husband was only a BLT killer and not a BTK one.
BTK is a nickname Kansas serial killer Dennis Lynn Rade gave himself. It stands for blind, torture, kill.
Fascination with true crime can, unfortunately, lead to mistaken identity of false crime.
Donna Marmorstein lives and writes in Aberdeen. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.