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Savage Appetites

Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession

By Rachel Monroe
Narrated by Jayme Mattler / 8 hours 27 minutes
Bookseller Recommendation

Savage Appetites

“Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime and Obsession explores obsession, crime and violence and why we as a culture, specifically women, are fascinated by it. Monroe goes beyond the gruesome details of violent crime using not only her experience as a reporter, but also personal narrative and social examination. She shines a light on some of the most gruesome murders and the rippling consequences that occur long after justice, or what we think is justice, is done. If you liked I'll Be Gone In the Dark, you will love this one. I could not stop listening!”

Avid Bookshop image Ellen, Avid Bookshop

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.

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