Monroe, a writer and journalist for publications including the New Yorker and the Atlantic, grapples with the inherent creepiness of treating crime as entertainment – a moral ambiguity that’s been obscured, lately, by the volume and quality of literary memoirs, podcasts and documentaries devoted to cold cases, famous cults and forgotten murders... Part of what I liked about this book is that Monroe resists the need to sweep all of her material into a single, tidy narrative. Her prose – consistently lyrical and probing – does a lot of the work towards making it feel cohesive. All four stories are fascinating, and the loose structure allows for digressions on the history of forensic science, the concept of victimhood, the life of Ayn Rand and the Satanic Panic of the 1980s. Monroe has no grand unified theory of true crime. She’s a little queasy at the beginning and, more than 200 pages later, she remains a little queasy. She still can’t really explain her obsession, or even vindicate it. In allowing for messiness – narrative as well as moral – her book is a corrective to the genre it interrogates.