Strange Wednesdays: Macabre Beginnings

If I had to trace my fascination with true crime stories, horror, science fiction, and thrillers back to the beginning, the start would be at the public library in Bristol, RI. My grandparents lived there, and growing up I stayed with them often in the summer with my two sisters.

One of the staples of those stays, among visits to Colt State Park and Newport Creamery, were trips to the library. My sisters and I would typically take out the maximum amount of books allowed, and spend the majority of our time reading. By the time I was in 5th grade, we had exhausted all the options for our age group and graduated from the children’s section in the basement to the adult section on the first floor.

This is where I discovered my first true crime novel. I can’t remember the title now, but it was centered around a local newscaster who was stalked and eventually killed by a jealous husband. I was fascinated. I wasn’t allowed to watch any TV or movies with even a hit of violence at home, and the library suddenly became a kind of loophole for those rules. I started reading all sorts of crime related fiction and non fiction, Mary Higgins Clark mysteries, Tom Clancy thrillers, Steven King, Thomas Harris, Michael Crichton, the list went on and on.

If your wondering whether or not my grandparents approved of the subject matter, I think they were mainly glad we had something to keep us busy, and rarely took note of what books we checked out. My grandmother was a feisty Italian who loved reading about the Italian mafia. By the time I was in high school, she was loaning me her mob themed novels and nonfiction.


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23 thoughts on “Strange Wednesdays: Macabre Beginnings

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  1. I so loved this. I was exactly the same. Although our library wasn’t massive, it was nonetheless huge. I did the same and the lovely gray haired librarian didn’t know what to do next as I’d read everything suitable for my age. She turned a blind eye as I began checking out 20 books at a time regarding crime novels. She always asked how I would read that many books in a week. “Have I ever failed you?” I asked once. She just smiled.

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      1. It’s actually one of the harder ones to find, so congrats (I think there’s also a very early illustrated version that’s worth a bit of money, so ha ha, fingers crossed you wound up with that one) (not likely, but hey, you never know)!

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  2. Awesome! I was a huge bookworm in my youth too. The library was just one block over, but that didn’t stop me from getting past the 30 book limit by using my mom’s library card in a pinch. The stack of books in my bedroom was always hilariously tall.

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  3. I LOVE the “library loophole”!! I would say my fascination with true crime began when, too early in our young teenage lives, my dear friend was murdered by a schoolmate on the band room stage at school–it was before classes began, and she was there to give her time to students who needed extra help with their music lessons. It was a horrendously traumatic time for me…I don’t think I ever got over it, and thus the obsession with both crime and the criminal justice system. I know I shouldn’t watch the TV programs, they only upset me…and yet, I do. Libraries are a goldmine–books were my escape, growing up and in adulthood. Oh, and I just acquired “Psycho”, the book!

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      1. We lived in a small town–and there weren’t “grief counselors” back then (early 60’s)–so everyone knew the victim…and within a week, the slayer, as he was everyone’s “neighbor”. It was hideous–he was a juvie, and was released from prison early–I was terrified (irrationally) that he’d come after me, even though we moved to a different state. Recently I “googled” until I could find an update: he committed a couple more violent rapes and an attempted murder, before dying in a high-speed chase by law enforcement officers…. I suppose I should have more sympathy for his family…but what he did to my friend shocked not just our town, but most of the state. Sorry to go on and on…as you can see, it remains just below the surface of my consciousness..

        Oooh yes, great title!!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Fun read! I totally remember that feeling as a kid of having access to all this stuff at a library that you couldn’t normally learn about, but it going right over your parent’s heads because you were reading, which was deemed a productive past time. For me it was all about the love stories and romance books, as a kid I was reading things WAY more adult than I probably should have … 😉

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