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True crime writers primarily pursue the question "Why?" Why did somebody commit the crime? How could he get away with it for so long?
In my true crime books, I pursue a different primary question: about the case's outcome, I ask, "Are you sure?"
Every true crime story has loose ends that naggingly just don't fit into the constructed narrative. They make for a challenge: stay with your narrative and ignore or play them down, or follow them and risk your narrative.
There is an essential messiness to true crime that a reader of it must both resist and embrace. But that's why we read it, right? If you want everything well-tied up at the end, read crime fiction. To start, give up on the idea that a story must have a bottom. How can there not be a bottom? Yes, theoretically there is a bottom, but to us on the outside looking in, it's just not accessible. In reality, what we think are story bottoms are really false bottoms; beneath them, if we dare to look, are more bottoms. That wisdom, I should add, did not come to me easily. My stories are always less about the crimes themselves than my endurance to stay on the rollercoaster rides to find the truth. Countless times I'm upended, and I never see it coming.
Yet the job of a guide, narrator and investigator, such as myself, remains to organize that mess. However, I also scrutinize the work of the other guides, narrators, and investigators on the story. When I approach a story, I look for, then follow, significant pathways not taken: people who law enforcement couldn't get or weren't then ready to talk; witnesses who weren't asked everything important; and things the authorities were blind to or simply missed.
Then there are the stories in which the official investigators suppressed facts. On those, I am unrelenting in pursuing public records (always politely, politeness is essential in all information gathering). In obscure files and from additional reporting based on them, I've discovered a few rare things that were never known outside of law enforcement.
Always remember that to some extent, every interested party in a crime story is intentionally misleading us. They tell mostly true things but withhold or lie about other facts that are contrary to their interests. Trust only the people with no skin in the game not to intentionally mislead.
In each of my books, I first bring you up to speed by composing the story from what's on the record, then I make a narrative switch to first person and have you follow my investigation. When I pick up the right trail, it becomes obvious. I always advance my stories, including Speed Kills and Until Proven Innocent, but the two books in which I made the most significant (and contrarian) contributions are Jeffrey Dahmer's Dirty Secret: The Unsolved Murder of Adam Walsh, and Flowers for Mrs. Luskin.
And now, because it seems obligatory in such biographical summaries, among the television shows I have appeared on with my stories include: ABC Primetime; Anderson Cooper 360; Nancy Grace; Ashleigh Banfield; The Lineup; Inside Edition; Catherine Crier; Snapped; City Confidential; Cold Blood; and Prison Diaries.