Saturday, November 13, 2010

What is Harold Schechter reading?

This weekend's featured contributor at Writers Read: Harold Schechter, author of Killer Colt: Murder, Disgrace, and the Making of an American Legend.

His entry begins:
My most recent read was Hampton Sides’ gripping tale of the Martin Luther King assassination, Hellhound on His Trail. I was drawn to the book for several reasons. As a writer of historical true-crime narratives, I'm always interested in seeing how other practitioners work. Sides, whom I've never read before, impressed me as an extremely deft stylist with a gift for thumbnail descriptions that bring his settings to vivid life and a flair for turning nouns into expressive verbs (smoke doesn't rise, it “tendrils”)--a technique I admire but have never been able to pull off. He certainly knows how to keep the story moving. The book has a headlong narrative drive and even, despite the devastating inevitability of the central crime, a palpable sense of suspense, an effect he achieves (like James Swanson in his bestselling Manhunt) by...[read on]
Harold Schechter is a professor of American literature and culture at Queens College, the City University of New York. Among his nonfiction works are The Devil's Gentleman and the historical true-crime classics Fatal, Fiend, Deviant, Deranged, and Depraved. He also authors a critically acclaimed mystery series featuring Edgar Allan Poe, which includes The Tell-Tale Corpse, The Hum Bug, Nevermore and The Mask of Red Death.

Among the early praise for Killer Colt:
I love true crime books, and Schechter is a master of the genre—his books read like novels but every detail is meticulously researched and true. As a New Yorker, I’m always fascinated with Gilded Age New York—for it’s a city that is still recognizable in so many places—and apart from providing me with a history lesson about my city, this book also satisfies my enduring curiosity about the evil that seems to be a part of the human condition.
--Hooman Majd, author of The Ayatollahs' Democracy: An Iranian Challenge
Read an excerpt from Killer Colt, and learn more about the book and author at Harold Schechter's website.

Writers Read: Harold Schechter.

--Marshal Zeringue