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Murder, manslaughter, burglary or rape – the fascinating thing about true crime

Credit: Magdalena Roeseler (

True crime is booming in all media channels. The Google search for the topic yielded up to more than eight million results – evidence enough that true crime is finding more and more space in the media. The cases are based on the truth, actually happened somewhere in this world. Journalists prepare these in an impressive and realistic way for readers and viewers. The stories can be found in interviews with experts, printed in short stories in magazines and newspapers or the camera captures the places of the crime for documentaries.

True crime is booming as a fabric for series, films and magazines. As a genre, however, he is already old. The classic In Cold Blood by Tuman Capote appeared as early as 1966 – it is about killing a farmer’s family in Kansas. And in the twenties, the magazine genre conquered the press landscape in the USA. In 1924, the American journalist Bernarr Macfadden published the worldwide magazine True Detective Mysteries. First, the magazine began with fictitious stories until it became apparent that readers prefer facts about true crime. “Mysteries” was deleted from the name and True Detective became a phenomenon with the content of real stories.

Crime Scene
Credit: Tex TexIn (

Criminal cases offer new material for the newer formats, the audience fever and suffer – more than if they were only fiction. It’s about the filthy, the repulsive, the thing that nobody talked about, but everyone liked to know: who were the victims and who the perpetrators.

From books in their specially designed shelves in a bookstore to the Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer, to the podcast Serial – true crime is finding its way to the audience more and more often. And it seems that readers are not only interested in the frightening details, but also in law and order. “Non-fiction crime books, documentaries and podcasts offer an escape for readers and listeners and are also entertaining,” explained Fozia Mir, a lecturer in Criminology at Middlesex University in an interview with the Irish Independent.

There is, at least in the European and North American circle, no literary genre that is as successful over time and geographical boundaries as the crime novel. Friedrich Ani, the author of highly successful crime thrillers, attempted an answer in the first issue of the German CRIME magazine: “Crime stories have something relieving. The social balance is shaken by a crime, and readers accompany the investigators in restoring that balance. Someone heals something. (…) At the end of such books should always be the cure. The perpetrator must be arrested or neutralized.”

Credit: Jay Phagan (

If the desire and the tension for new formats over true crime have now aroused your interest, here are the following suggestions that you should not miss. Our reporters favour the following true crime formats:

Girls Incarcerated and On Death Row – Author Andrea Wright: “I just find the prison documentaries fascinating as it’s a real look inside them; especially the American ones where you can still receive the death penalty in some states. I think the point of crime documentaries is they are bizarre and dangerous and peak your curiosity because it’s a look inside somewhere and that is a totally foreign experience for a viewer. It shows the awful events that have really happened in the world and the people behind them.”

Making a Murderer, Amanda Knox, Women Behind Bars and Inside the Mind of a Serial Killer (Documentaries on Netflix). Serial and Criminal (Podcasts) – Author Cayla Williams: “I’m drawn to true crime stories because they’re often surprising or have an element of mystery. I also think that we as humans tend to be fascinating by the morbid/macabre and things we don’t understand and true crime stories allow us to explore that. For me, documentary films are the perfect medium for crime stories because the story is accompanied by visuals: archival footage, photographs, or the faces of those being interviewed. Though radio podcasts are also a great storytelling medium that enable me to listen to dark stories while I go about my mundane day-to-day activities like doing the dishes or folding laundry.”

Credit: Chris Burke (

Forensic Investigators – Author Bronwyn Molony: “Most of what I watch is on regular TV and I mostly like the real stuff. But my favourite true crime TV series are the ones where they have the police dogs because the dogs seem so happy catching some perpetrators.”

The German CRIME Magazine – Author Angelina Niederpruem: “I love crime stories, whether in the book, as a movie or even from real life. I am fascinated by the stories and the tension that they generate in me. When I first held the new german true crime magazine called CRIME from Gruner + Jahr in my hands, I fell in love. I really devoured it and immediately subscribed. Now for less than two years, every two months, I have been getting my very special reading experience.” For fans of written true crime stories, but unfortunately only available in German, this magazine is a must. We have listed several other magazines in the English language here – maybe there is the right one for you:

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