Last Woman Hanged is an Australian novel by Caroline Overington. This book is more than just an insight into Australia’s early justice system, it is also about women’s rights in Australia and their representation in the legal system. Whether you think Lousia Collins was innocent or not, this book will challenge what you think you know about Australian history, the women’s rights movement, and the justice system. On the same lines as, Making a Murderer, the novel addresses how just the Australian legal system is and questions the presumptions of innocence and guilt.
Midlands is set in South Africa after Apartheid. Journalist Jonny Steinberg tries to get to the bottom of a murder that happened in the Midlands farm area of South Africa. Instead of a simple ‘who-done-it’, this novel addresses the history of South Africa and the tensions that were created not only throughout Apartheid, but also the trauma that stemmed from the Dutch and British colonisation of the country. The author tries to stay objective, but he questions how well he can do this given that he is a white man investigating what is presumed to be a racially fueled murder. Sometimes justice never comes, or it comes to late.
Some people might argue that this book is where the true crime genre really took flight. It is not necessarily a new book, but if you loved Making a Murderer and want to learn more about how the genre of true crime developed, then this is a good place to start. In Cold Blood is set in the U.S. and Truman Capote puts on his journalist/investigator hat to try to figure out the brutal murder of a family in Kansas. Truman Capote has been criticised for not staying neutral in writing In Cold Blood, but it is hard to stay neutral in the true crime world. I think this is what makes the genre so popular and so contentious. Just talk to anyone who has seen Making a Murderer to see how many different sides of a story you can have!
I have spoken about Fruit of a Poisoned Tree before, and it is such a favourite of mine that I had to list it here. Antony Altbeker follows the case of a murdered young white South African woman, Inge. This book is great if you love true crime in the court room. The novel follows the court case that acused Inge’s boyfriend of the brutal murder and analyses all of the evidence given in court from blood stains, shoe prints, and finger prints. This is a mix of South African justice system, crime science, and a search for the truth. Sound familiar? Arguably this is the Making a Murderer South Africa and it is a must read if you love true crime court.