• Anita Biressi
Part of the Crime Files Series book series (CF)


As Wendy Lesser notes, extreme crime, especially murder, exerts a particular popular fascination. From conventional press reportage to the controversial death row images featured in the billboard advertisements for the Italian knitwear company Benetton, it is more than apparent that real-life crime sells. True crime entertainment, then, is just one contributor among many to the media debate about crime in society. Today, British true crime books and magazines address a heterogeneous range of criminal activity including multiple and domestic murder, gang warfare, grand robbery and serial rape. The genre may be broken down into sub-genres authored by detectives, relatives of murder victims and relatives of criminals, in addition to books written by journalists and other professional writers. Alternatively, these narratives may be organised by theme, according to type of killer, mode of killing, region or period — for example, ‘Women Who Kill’, ‘Doctors of Death’, ‘Classic Murder’, ‘Crimes of East Anglia’ and ‘Victorian Poisoners’. These stories are non-fiction narratives based on actual events, packaged and promoted for entertainment as ‘leisure reading’. They may be of any length from a feature article to a full-length book study but, unlike reportage, the event does not have to be contemporaneous or currently newsworthy. Again, unlike news or documentary, true crime is promoted primarily and explicitly as a leisure pursuit. For example, the ‘Summer Special’ editions of the monthly true crime magazines are promoted as ‘holiday reading’, a way to ‘put up your feet and relax’.


Feature Article Music Collection Murder Victim Cover Note Story Pattern 
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Copyright information

© Anita Biressi 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anita Biressi
    • 1
  1. 1.Buckinghamshire Chilterns University CollegeHigh Wycombe BuckinghamshireUK

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