The Truth is Stranger than Fiction: Mystery & Mayhem 2017

This May, we turn our attention to the true crime genre and invite you to join us for Mystery and Mayhem: The Truth is Stranger than Fiction. Whether it’s the O.J. Simpson trial and the TV series American Crime Story or the 1975 best seller Helter Skelter, Boone County Public Library has something to satisfy your inner detective. Our collection of true crime books, and movies based on these often sensational events are consistently among the most popular in our system.

If you aren’t familiar with it, this nonfiction genre explores horrific crimes and the motivations of the criminals that commit them.  These stories are most likely to be told from a reporting point of view, a historical slant, as a biography or memoir, or from a sociological or psychological perspective.  Similar to mysteries, readers often like true crime because they like to try to solve the puzzle. These stories allow us to follow along as facts are revealed and as investigators pursue the case, and we try to understand what motivates someone to commit terrible crimes. We wonder what we might do if caught up in a terrifying situation, root for justice to be served and ponder the perennial question of good vs. evil.

Visit any BCPL location in May to check out a true crime book and while you are there, enter to win one of the Mystery & Mayhem gift baskets. Each branch will be giving away a themed basket. After the branch basket drawings, all entries will be combined to draw one winner for the Grand Prize Mystery & Mayhem basket with these fun items:

  • $50.00 gift card to Pompillio’s 
  • 2 Gift Certificates for Newport Gangster Store
  • Clue Game
  • DVD American Crime Story
  • Popcorn
  • 2 Books

We’d love to have you join us at one of our interesting programs, in May, that will focus specifically on true crime. 

Teens are invited to join us on Thursday, May 4, from 6:30 to 8 p.m at the Florence Branch, 7425 US 42 in Florence, for Forensic Science: Fingerprinting 
Through hands-on activities with crime scene investigator, Brian Cochran, learn how police officers recover and lift fingerprints at crime scenes. Please register.

On Wednesday Mary 24 at 7 p.m., the Scheben Branch, 8899 US 42 in Union, will be the site for Sensational Crimes in Boone County. Learn more about events that in their day were the talk of the county.

Like something out of a CSI episode, the Florence Branch will, on May 30 at 7 p.m., host the program Horror or Hero? Flies and Forensic Entomology.  Learn how the study of fly maggots that feed on corpses can help resolve criminal investigations. Forensic entomology is one of the newest sub-disciplines to be recognized by international judicial systems. It deals with some of the most unpleasant evidence of all disciplines – fly maggots that feed on corpses. This presentation will serve as an introduction to forensic entomology and how scientists are using flies to help with criminal investigations. The organisms that will be highlighted are all around us and we often come in contact with the species used for investigations around a garbage can or feeding on a dead squirrel. While this can be a very gruesome topic, the topic will be explored at a level appropriate for adults and children. All are welcome. Please register.

When you visit the Library this May, our own book detectives, a.k.a. Librarians can help you find just the right thing to satisfy your inner crime scene investigator.  Or, if you prefer to remain incognito, browse the Mystery and Mayhem True Crime Display at any Branch.


The Best Books I Have Read Recently That You Might Not Have Read

While you are probably familiar with some of my recent favorites like The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty, Redemption Road by John Hart and Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, I have a few on my list that might not be on your radar.

  1. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. I don’t read a lot of science fiction, but this one grabbed my attention. It is about a man who wakes up in an alternate reality and his journey as he tries to get home to the family and life he didn’t fully appreciate while he had them. It really made me think. I was even thinking about it when I started my next book. The opening quote of my new book was, “It doesn’t have to be this way.” That really hit me. The decisions you make take your life in different directions and you can never fully know their impact. The book is a thriller as much as science fiction.
  1. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell I loved this book. It is a young adult novel about a girl who is a twin learning to stand on her own. She has a lot of social anxiety issues and is extremely introverted. I have to admit I did relate to the character quite a bit, even though I don’t think my own issues are quite as extreme. Sadly, I haven’t read anything by the author that has measured up to this novel, her first.
  1. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel I am a huge fan of post-apocalyptic books, movies and television shows. Don’t ask me why. I am sure there is some deep-seated, psychological reason. I guess I am always curious as to how the world will look and how people will react. In this take, most of the world’s population has been destroyed by a disease. The book follows multiple storylines. It bounces back and forth between the present and the past showing us who the characters were before and brings them all together at the end.
  1. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black. Another young adult novel, the opening scene pulled me in and the book did not let go. It is about vampires and there is a bit of romance, but it is nothing like Twilight. The author said there might be a sequel some day and I am still holding out hope. There is so much story that needs to be told and I really enjoyed the characters.
  1. The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters. This is actually a trilogy. Book two is Countdown City and book three is A World of Trouble. This is a pre-apocalyptic book, but has many of the same elements of a post-apocalypse. Scientists have discovered that a meteor is going to hit the Earth. No one is 100 percent of the impact (pardon the pun), but the prevailing thought is that the world as we know it will end. Each book contains a mystery, which is solved by the main character. The books are thoroughly researched. The author spent time with astrophysicists to get the details right. I liked the main character and respected his integrity and commitment to finding the truth. The books definitely make you think about life and how you want to live it.
  1. Half a King by Joe Abercrombie. Fantasy is another genre I don’t explore extensively. I just happened to see this one on the shelf and it piqued my interest. You follow the adventure of a Yarvi, a prince, but one who was born with a shriveled hand. While he can’t wield a sword, his sharp wit more than makes up for it. Through a twist of fate, he inherits the throne, but ends up on a slave ship. I will let you read the book to find out how. This is the first in the trilogy. You could stop after this book. I liked the second one pretty well and I did read the third one, but found it a bit disappointing. There were choices the author made with which I disagreed and the main character acted in ways that departed from who I thought he was.
  1. The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon. The supernatural is a common theme in the books I choose. Set in the mysterious town of West Hall Vermont, it tells the story of Sara Harrison Shea, who disappeared and was found dead near her home in 1908, and that of Ruthie and her family who live in Sara’s house in the present day. A bit creepy without being too scary, I really liked the story.
  1. All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage. There is a lot going on in this book. It contains mysteries, a supernatural aspect, spirituality and philosophy. It definitely keeps you engaged. It did not end the way I expected, which is not necessarily a bad thing. I did have a few issues with the ending. It was satisfying, but I didn’t believe that the main characters would have made all the decisions they did. It was an excellent introduction to author and I look forward to reading more of her books.

There you have it. Hopefully, I have exposed you to new books and/or new authors. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I did. Happy reading!


Suzanne Yowler has been a Circulation Assistant at the Florence Branch for more than two years. An avid reader, she belongs to two personal book clubs and coordinates two book clubs at her branch, Mondays 4 Mystery and Best of the Best.