The Best New True Crimes Stories: Small Towns by Mitzi Szereto was given a great review by MK French for the online source “Girl Who Reads”, read the review here!
Small towns have the perception that they’re safe, people know each other and it’s a great place to live. That strong sense of community doesn’t mean that bad things don’t happen, and crimes due happen in small towns. Mitzi Szereto is an author and anthology editor in multiple genres, so you know an anthology with her name attached is going to be a good one. Perfect for true crime fans, this volume has a lot of information about each town, crime and killer.
“Snowtown” opens this volume, relating the eight deaths found in Snowtown, Australia in May 1999 and the subsequent investigation, resulting in four more deaths and the revelation of four serial killers. The text is straightforward, with summaries of the crimes, the backgrounds of abuse in the killers, as well as the abuse they visited on their victims. This is the same vein that the other stories use as well. We’re taken all around the world in them, and the killers often were sloppy enough for police to catch them. Often their internal problems or history of trauma led to them acting out as a way to gain power, with horrific consequences for the people around them.
“The Summer of the Fox” is a personal story from Mark Fryers, where vague rumors he heard as a child turned out to be true. The Fox was a serial burglar and rapist, with a multitude of other petty crimes attributed to him by locals that summer. Mitzi Szereto also contributed a story of her own, “I Kill for God,” taking place in a small town outside Seattle. The killer in that story went on a rampage, but there’s more to it after he’s transferred to a forensic psychiatric hospital when he was found guilty by reason of insanity. I found that aspect of the story more fascinating than the killings aspect.
All in all, those who really enjoy delving into the darker corners of humanity will like this collection. It runs from the deeply personal (a family poisoning) to the completely random sprees that get reported on the news. Each case described here has the facts of the killers’ backgrounds, as well as the circumstances leading up to the murders. It’s a darker side of human nature described here, and I’m really glad I don’t live there.