Sometimes before sending a text, I'll pause to consider what it would sound like read aloud in the solemn, moderately judgmental voice of a crime show narrator. I wonder what picture the words would paint of me if the ephemera of my life became evidence. But until I read this book, I never stopped to think about which role I would play in these hypothetical, unspecified crimes: victim or perpetrator. Why are women especially so drawn to stories of violence — is it a way to drag our worst fears into the light and contain them within the supposed safety of law and order? Or is it something darker? These are the issues Rachel Monroe explores by pairing four archetypes (Detective, Victim, Defender, and Killer) with four fascinating profiles of women who willingly stepped into the dark. This combination of introspection and research, a compelling blend of memoir and journalism, makes Savage Appetites an incredibly satisfying read and the perfect companion to the modern true crime boom. Recommended By Lauren P., Powells.com
The surge in true crime popularity over the past decade has been nigh impossible to miss, perhaps particularly so due to the fact that the overwhelming majority of fans are women. Many a think piece have been written on the subject, but in Savage Appetites, Monroe applies her own theory that each true crime fan tends to align with one of four archetypes. She proceeds to delve into the true stories of four women who embody each of the four archetypes: Detective, Victim, Defender, and Killer. The result is a deeply intriguing and often chilling read. Recommended By Haley B., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
A provocative and original investigation of our cultural fascination with crime, linking four archetypes--Detective, Victim, Defender, Killer--to four true stories about women driven by obsession.
In this illuminating exploration of women, violence, and obsession, Rachel Monroe interrogates the appeal of true crime through four narratives of fixation. In the 1940s, a frustrated heiress began creating dollhouse crime scenes depicting murders, suicides, and accidental deaths. Known as the "Mother of Forensic Science," she revolutionized the field of what was then called legal medicine. In the aftermath of the Manson Family murders, a young woman moved into Sharon Tate's guesthouse and, over the next two decades, entwined herself with the Tate family. In the mid-nineties, a landscape architect in Brooklyn fell in love with a convicted murderer, the supposed ringleader of the West Memphis Three, through an intense series of letters. After they married, she devoted her life to getting him freed from death row. And in 2015, a teenager deeply involved in the online fandom for the Columbine killers planned a mass shooting of her own.
Each woman, Monroe argues, represents and identifies with a particular archetype that provides an entryway into true crime. Through these four cases, she traces the history of American crime through the growth of forensic science, the evolving role of victims, the Satanic Panic, the rise of online detectives, and the long shadow of the Columbine shooting. In a combination of personal narrative, reportage, and a sociological examination of violence and media in the twentieth and twenty-first century, Savage Appetites scrupulously explores empathy, justice, and the persistent appeal of violence.