Michelle McNamara, the brilliant mind behind True Crime Diary, passed away in late April, 2016.
I was already established as a crime blogger when I discovered Michelle’s work 10 years ago, and I was blown away. There were moments when I thought I had a handle on this thing, but Michelle was the real deal. A talented writer with literary flair and an absolutely dogged reporter of the old school, willing to use her own time to knock on doors, make calls, and get the truth, in whatever way she could.
We struck up a friendship. It was on one hand a typical internet friendship — polite and distant in some ways yet cerebral and deeply involved in others. Through reading her work and exchanging emails with her I realized I’d made friends with a like mind who shared my tendency to get lost in obsessions with unanswered questions.
Michelle’s obsessions led to her securing a book deal to write about the unsolved Original Night Stalker rapes and murders that ripped through upscale California neighborhoods in the late 70s and early 80s. When she passed away she was very close to being done with the book. If I can help bring her book to the public in any way, I will.
In the meantime, I realized with a modicum of shock that Michelle’s death had jarred loose something inside me that I’d been resisting for a while.
I’d abandoned covering true crime stories in an in-depth close-up way for some time because I felt too psychologically fragile to deal. I’d branched out to covering other subjects like tech and pop culture. I’d even delved into comedy. As a result I eventually ended up writing an official tie-in book to AMC’s brilliant Breaking Bad spinoff, Better Call Saul.
Michelle McNamara leaving this world far too soon made me realize I wasn’t done with true crime at all — even though my constant tweets about various crime stories all along had been telling me the same.
So here it is, in its very early form, my True Crime Wire. As I write it’s just a WordPress address. But as I gauge my own interest and ability to engage, it will likely become a standalone address. After all, true crime as a genre has been undergoing a substantial renaissance. The popularity of Making a Murderer and Serial alone are proof enough.
Here I’ll curate and aggregate crime stories, both old and unsolved and breaking. When I’m able I’ll add my own reporting. I may add contributors as I see fit. I’m not going to rush it. I’m going to be careful and also have to keep in mind my own professional work schedule, doing freelance writing and editing for Maxim magazine as well as writing more books.
And yes, this blog is dedicated to the memory of my friend Michelle, whom I never had a chance to tell just how gifted I thought she was. She could have ruled the true crime genre. If her book on the Original Night Stalker — which she re-dubbed the Golden State Killer — is as good as I expect, she may yet dominate the bestseller lists.
I hope so. And I hope she had at least some idea of how much I respected her work and appreciated her support. I didn’t always deserve it. But I’ll try to live up to it.