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Life Writing

True Crime Memoir

Poster with different true crime books

True crime media has exploded in popularity, driven largely by a resurgence of crime documentaries and the growth of podcasting as a medium; now, these new media have almost surpassed the demand for true crime texts. However, there is another mode of true crime that is taking hold and quickly changing the genre: the true crime memoir. Often written by the victim of a crime, a journalist who got too close to a crime, or a member of law enforcement recounting an experience, true crime memoir combines the personalized memoir form with the conventions of true crime. This combination has created a subgenre that is often victim/survivor focused and critiques systems of policing and justice, unlike many conventional true crime texts. In this course, we will read true crime memoirs such as The Stranger Beside Me (1980) by Ann Rule, Down City (2017) by Leah Carroll, The Fact of a Body (2017) by Alex Marzano-Lesnevich, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark (2018) by Michelle McNamara, and The Uninnocent (2021) by Katherine Blake. We will also view selections from HBO’s recent docuseries Murder on Middle Beach (2020), an important example of filmic true crime memoir. In our examination of these titles, we will endeavour to understand how true crime fits into our larger cultural landscapes, and we will place true crime memoir within that continuum. Do true crime memoirs challenge the often-problematic conventions of true crime? This question is something we will explore.


  • The Stranger Beside Me (1980) by Ann Rule
  •  Down City (2017) by Leah Carroll
  • The Fact of a Body (2017) by Alex Marzano-Lesnevich
  •  I’ll Be Gone in the Dark (2018) by Michelle McNamara
  • The Uninnocent (2021) by Katherine Blake
  • Murder on Middle Beach (2021)dir. by Madison Hamburg 


Assessments consist of: 

  • Essay
  • Book Review 


  • Level 2 or above

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Queen's University is situated on traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory.