Oddly-Specific Genres: Love Gone Wrong

The need to find balance in all aspects of your life is much touted these days.  We at the Berryville Library want to do our part to help you in this quest.  So, after a February full of hearts, love and chocolate, we thought March was a perfect time to feature true tales of love gone wrong! 🙂

Of course, said love gone wrong doesn’t necessarily have to be romantic love. . . .

If you want to read about historical crimes:

Denise White Parkinson’s Daughter of the White River: Depression-Era Treachery & Vengeance in the Arkansas Delta


Helen DeWitt’s story is not really remembered now, but she was a media sensation back in the early 1930s when the teenager avenged her father’s murder by shooting his killer in court. This book is a lot more than Helen Spence’s fifteen minutes of fame. It also delves into the now-disappeared 1920s/1930s “river culture” on the Arkansas River as it traces Helen’s life, from its beginnings to its rather unfortunate end.

*Ebook also available on Libby.

Recommended if you enjoyed Brooks Blevins’s Ghost of the Ozarks.


Paul Collins’s The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City and Sparked The Tabloid War


Truthfully, I get suspicious of any crime billed the crime/murder of a century. Because if it was the crime of the century, why are there always so many crimes of the century for any given century? Riddle me that, Batman!

Author Paul Collins focuses on one of the more intriguing cases I’ve heard referred to as a crime of a century by looking at a 19th century case of an unidentified dismembered corpse that sparked a tabloid feeding frenzy.

Author Paul Collins writes historical nonfiction that has covered everything from Shakespeare to Colonial America, so a big focus of the book is not just the bizarre details of the case, which got even stranger when they finally identified the victim. Collins also expands on the historical context, especially in regard to the media coverage the case generated.

Recommended for those who enjoy Erik Larson, Simon Winchester, and Harold Schechter’s The Mad Sculptor.


Jeff Guinn’s Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde


Bonnie and Clyde are iconic figures in the annals of criminal history, but how much do you really know about them?

My coworker Mary-Esther is a big fan of Jeff Guinn’s writing and recommended him to me several months ago. Though I haven’t read this book, I did read and immensely enjoy his book about the infamous gunfight at the OK Corral and am looking forward to trying his other work. He has a knack for writing well-researched, readable nonfiction about historical crime. In Go Down Together, he turns his attention to the real story behind the myth.

Recommended if you enjoy reading about Great Depression-era crime.


If you prefer something more contemporary:

 Gregg Olsen and Rebecca Morris’s A Killing in Amish Country: Sex, Betrayal, and a Cold-Blooded Murder


The backstory behind the murder chronicled in this story is not necessarily unusual within the context of stories of love gone wrong. Boy meets girl. Boy is married. Complications ensue.

What makes this story unique is the cultural background of people in question. Eli was Amish, though he enjoyed stepping outside of that world. His mistress Barb had been raised Amish but had become a Mennonite as an adult. When Eli starts thinking about killing his wife, Barb is the one who takes the lead and ends up pulling the trigger. . . .

Recommended for those who enjoyed Ann Rule’s Too Late to Say Goodbye


Carlton Smith’s Cold-Blooded: A True Story of Love, Lies, Greed, and Murder


Keeping track of Elisa McNabney’s crimes is almost impossible. Between her 38 aliases, 113-page rap sheet, and penchant for murdering her husbands, there’s a lot of ground to cover. But it also makes for a fast-paced, fascinating read. . . .

Recommended if you enjoyed Ann Rule’s If You Really Loved Me.


Jason Kersten’s Journal of the Dead: A Story of Friendship and Murder in the New Mexico Desert


A 1999 road trip ended badly, to put it mildly, for Raffi Kodikian and David Coughlin. By the time it was over, Coughlin was dead. Kodikian readily admitted that he killed his friend, but that he did it to spare him an even worse death from dehydration. Authorities were not convinced and charged him with murder. Jason Kersten started following this story as a magazine editor and expanded his initial coverage into this book.

Recommended for those who enjoyed Mitchell Zuckoff’s Judgment Ridge.

As always, if you’re interested in any of these books, just follow the link to our online library catalog.

What’s your favorite true tale of love gone wrong? Which of these books appeals most to you?How do you try to find balance in your life? Tell us in the comments!


Author: berryvillelibrary

"Our library, our future"

2 thoughts on “Oddly-Specific Genres: Love Gone Wrong”

  1. I went my own way for this month’s challenge and read “Truevine” by Beth Macy. It was a very interesting read – meticulously researched and full of information about the social history of the circus sideshow. The author does follow the trend I know you’ve mentioned before of inserting her research process into the narrative a bit more than I would have liked. The timeline of events can get confusing because of this with some events presented it seems more in the order she discovers them than chronologically. But overall this is a fascinating story of how blurry the lines of love and crime can become. And I would say the story of the Muse brothers as well as many of the other circus “freaks” they spent much of their life working with is worth getting to know!

    Liked by 1 person

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