The Best American Crime Writing Series (renamed The Best American Crime Reporting in 2006) ran from 2002 to 2010 and presented the finest in true crime journalism. Many of the stories are available from the online magazines in which they were first printed or from other legitimate sources. Links to all 105 available stories appear below the fold.
2002 Edited by Otto Penzler and Thomas B. Cook. Introduction by Nicholas Pileggi.
The Cheerleaders: E. Jean Carroll, Spin
The seemingly idyllic town of Dryden, New York is plagued by untimely deaths.
Should Johnny Paul Penry Die? Alex Prud’homme, Talk
Should the mentally retarded be executed?
The Outcast: Pat Jordan, New Yorker
O.J. Simpson lives the life of an outcast.
Flesh and Blood: Peter Richmond
The crimes of football star Rae Carruth
Bad Cops: Peter J. Boyer, The New Yorker
The testimony of the cop who blew wide open the Rampart scandal is called into question.
The Crash of Egyptair 990: William Langewiesche, The Atlantic Monthly
Politics makes it difficult to assess what happened to a downed airliner.
Judgment Day: Doug Most, Boston Magazine
A quarter century after the crime, a murderer faces judgment.
The Killing of Alydar: Skip Hollandsworth, Texas Monthly
A million-dollar horse is said to have been shot for breaking its leg. But was it murder?
X Files: Julian Rubinstein, Details
The life and downfall of the king of ecstasy.
The Day of the Attack: Nancy Gibbs, Time
The eleventh of September, 2001, broken down.
Anatomy of a Verdict: D. Graham Burnett, The New York Times Magazine
A reporter is a jury member, sequestered for 66 hours.
As with each year, some are not available on-line from legitimate sources or are only available with a subscription.
Our Man in Mexico: Charles Bowden, GQ
A DEA agent crosses the line.
Fatal Bondage: David McClintick, Vanity Fair
A killer lures in women with the promise of S & M.
A Prayer for Tina Marie: Robert Draper, GQ.
A woman kills her children while on a drug binge.
The Chicken Warriors: Mark Singer, The New Yorker
Cockfighting in Oklahoma. Available for subscribers only.
The Chicago Crime Commission: Robert Kurson, Esquire
The last crusader continues to work for a legendary group that once fought Capone.
Under Suspicion: Atul Gawande, The New Yorker
The problems with eye-witness identification and line-ups. Available for subscribers only.
2003 Edited by Otto Penzler and Thomas H. Cook. Introduction by John Berendt
The Day Treva Throneberry Disappeared: Skip Hollandsworth, Texas Monthly
Mourning in Electra, Texas: The disappearance of a high school cheerleader uncovers closely-guarded secrets.
The Counter-terrorist: Lawrence Wright, The New Yorker
The remarkable story of the CIA agent who hunted bin Laden in the 90s and took the job as chief of security for the World Trade Center three weeks before 9/11.
The Accused: Paige Williams, Atlanta Magazine
A boy is falsely accused of killing his sister.
Mad Dogs and Lawyers: Evan Wright, Rolling Stone
A pair of dog owners go on trial for death-by-canine.
The Bully of Toulon: Robert Kurson, Chicago
After killing a sheriff’s deputy, a small town bully decides to target all of his grudges.
The Last Ride of Jesse James Hollywood: Jesse Katz, Los Angeles Magazine
A kidnapping gone wrong.
My Undertaker, My Pimp: Jay Kirk, Harper’s Magazine
A former undertaker takes up a career in managing a brothel.
Dirty Little Secret: Doug Most, Boston Magazine
The story of an ex-Air Force officer and his child pornography site.
The Keystone Kommandos: Gary Cohen, The Atlantic Monthly
During World War II, Germany sends commandos to the United States to cripple U.S. industry.
A Woman’s Work: Peter Landesman, The New York Times Magazine.
A woman helps lead the genocide in Rwanda.
The Boy Who Loved Transit: Jeff Tietz, Harper’s Magazine
What starts as a boy’s obsession with transit, leads a man to steal subway trains.
For this year’s edition, there were more than the typical number which were not available online.
Sex, Lies, and Video Cameras: Rene Chun, Details
What seems to be a modeling agency is a front for online porn.
Big Shot: Peter Richmond, GQ
How the limo driver of an NBA All-Star met his death.
How Two Lives Met in Death: Joshua Hammer, Newsweek
This story follows two teens lives and deaths intersected, one a terrorist carrying a bomb, and one a bystander.
The Body Farm: Maximillian Potter, GQ
Follows the work of the professor who studies decaying bodies for a living.
The Journalist and the Terrorist: Robert Sam Anson, Vanity Fair
Daniel Pearl’s murder in Pakistan.
The Terrible Boy: Tom Junod, Esquire
Bullying gets out of hand.
The Enron Wars: Marie Brenner, Vanity Fair
The collapse of Enron.
Slaves of the Brothel: Sebastian Junger, Vanity Fair
A journalist looks at sex trafficking in Kosovo.
Murder on the Amazon: Devin Friedman, Men’s Journal
A luxury yacht docks at the wrong harbor in Brazil.
2004 Edited by Otto Penzler and Thomas H. Cook. Introduction by Joseph Wambaugh.
Ciudad De La Muerte: Cecilia Balli, Texas Monthly
In the city of Juarez, 300 women have gone missing or have been found dead. The journalist has kept after this story and her investigations have become part of her doctoral dissertation. Here is her 2011 follow-up piece.
To Kill Or Not to Kill: Scott Turow, New Yorker
The lawyer and author’s personal reflections on the death sentence.
A Miscarriage of Justice: Robert F. Kennedy Jr., The Atlantic
Kennedy makes a plea for innocence in the notorious murder case which sent his cousin to prison.
Not Guilty by Reason of Afghanistan: John H. Richardson, Esquire
Jawed Wassel, an Afghani businessman was murdered by his business partner, who pled not guilty by reason of 9/11.
Code of Dishonor: Clara Bingham, Vanity Fair.
The rape scandal at the Air Force Academy and their lack of response.
The Professor and the Porn: Elisabeth Franck
A New York Law School professor is discovered to have a stash of child pornography. Only those who uncovered it were fired.
Chief Bratton Takes on LA: Heather Mac Donald, City Journal
NYPD Chief comes to the City of Angels.
Who Is the Boy in the Box? Sabrina Rubin Erdely, Philadelphia Magazine
A retired detective still pursues the answer to one of Philadelphia’s most infamous cases.
Lord of the Drug Ring: Charles Bowden, GQ
The story of a billionaire drug lord.
Who Shot Mohammed Al-Dura? James Fallows, The Atlantic Monthly
Forensic researchers look into where the bullets came from that shot a Palestinian boy.
The Dark Art of Interrogation: Mark Bowden, The Atlantic Monthly
A look at torture.
The stories from 2004 that are not available online.
Stephanie: James Ellroy, GQ
“Murder files hook you fast and drag you in slow.” Ellroy reinvestigates a 60s murder.
For the Love of God: Jon Krakauer, GQ
Examines the murder of Brenda Lafferty by Mormon fundamentalists.
Watching the Detectives: Jay Kirk, Harper’s Magazine
The Vidocq Society and their campaign to solve cases.
Unfortunate Con: Mark Schone, Oxford American
A writer claims to have uncovered evidence of presidential drug use. His story unravels and he appears to have committed suicide. Or was he murdered?
Megan’s Law and Me: Brendan Riley, Details Magazine
A sex offender provides his perspective on the Megan Law registry.
CSC: Crime Scene Cleanup: Pat Jordan, Playboy
The professionals involved in cleaning up crime scenes.
Night of the Bullies: Robert Draper, GQ
The lives of three bullies and their victim, twenty-four years later.
Possessed: Luke Dittrich, Atlanta Magazine
A Neo-Nazi continues to investigate a murder and stalks a woman at her home.
The Old Man and the Gun: David Grann, New Yorker
An elderly bank robber continues to ply his trade. Available in full for New Yorker subscribers. A preview is available at the above link.
2005 Edited by Otto Penzler and Thomas H. Cook. Introduction by James Ellroy.
The Girls Next Door: Peter Landesman, New York Times Magazine.
An ordinary suburban house contains young women trafficked for the international sex trade.
The Virus Underground: Clive Thompson, New York Times Magazine.
The computer virus creating community.
The Terror Web: Lawrence Wright, New Yorker
Al Qaeda proves to be internet savvy.
Anatomy of a Foiled Plot: Craig Horowitz, New York
Would-be bombers are foiled in their attempt to attack Herald Square.
To Catch an Oligarch: Justin Kane and Jason Felch, San Francisco Magazine
The former prime minister of Ukraine is put on trial in San Francisco.
A Long Way Down: Bruce Porter, New York Times Magazine
A white-collar criminal in prison for fraud.
The Silver Thief: Stephen J. Dubner, New Yorker
A burglar specializes in the homes of the rich.
Stalking Her Killer: Philip Weiss, New York
Thirty years ago, a Peace Corps worker kills a fellow volunteer. Why didn’t he pay for his crimes?
The Self-Destruction of an M.D.: Neil Swidey, Boston Globe
A Boston surgeon abandons his patient on the operating table to cash a paycheck.
Those from 2005 which were not available online.
The Ones That Got Away: Robert Draper, GQ.
The terrorist bombers of the U.S.S. Cole elude capture.
The Family Man: Skip Hollandsworth, Texas Monthly
A church-going family man also runs the family business of safe-cracking.
Mysterious Circumstances: David Grann, New Yorker
The chief expert on Sherlock Holmes dies under mysterious circumstances. Available for those with a New Yorker subscription. Preview.
Punch Drunk Love: Jonathan Miles, Men’s Journal.
The allure of the bar fight.
Fine Disturbances: Jeff Tietz, New Yorker
Border agents patrol the US-Mexican border. Available for those with a New Yorker subscription. Preview.
Social Disgraces: Debra Miller Landau, Atlanta Magazine
Twenty-five years after murdering his wife, millionaire James Sullivan faces a trial. (update: he was found guilty)
Choirboys: James Ellroy.
In an essay specially written for the anthology, Ellroy describes his troubled past and his inspiration to write.
2006 Edited by Otto Penzler and Thomas H. Cook. Introduction by Mark Bowden.
The Choirboy: John Heilemann, New York*
Famed technology writer Lawrence Lessig describes his history of sexual abuse at the hands of a prominent choir master.
The $2,000-An-Hour Woman: Mark Jacobson, New York
A pimp aims for the big time.
The Last Ride of Cowboy Bob: Skip Hollandsworth, Texas Monthly*
Cowboy Bob, a notorious bank robber in Western garb, was actually a woman.
Killer Instincts: Jeffrey Toobin, New Yorker.
A successful prosecutor cuts corners to get a prisoner sentenced to death.
Altar Ego: Robert Nelson, Phoenix New Times.
A priest is the prime suspect in a decades-old murder.
Dr. Evil: S.C. Gwynne, Texas Monthly
A doctor specializes in an operation which removes vertebrae.
Blood Feud: Mary Battiata, Washington Post Magazine
Two neighboring farmers battle for years.
Hit Men in Blue? Howard Blum and John Connolly, Vanity Fair.
Two police officers are arrested for being Mafia hitmen. (Follow-up: both were found guilty.)
The Ghosts of Emmett Till: Richard Rubin, New York Times Magazine
Interviews revisiting the attorneys and jurors in the Emmett Till murder trial.
Blue on Blue: Chuck Hustmyre, New Orleans Magazine.
A police officer robs a restaurant she is hired to protect and kills a fellow officer.
Sex Thief: Denise Grollmus, Cleveland Scene.
A rapist beats the system again and again.
Not available online (from legitimate sources, 2006).
How to Lose $100,000,000: Paige Williams, GQ
A West Virginia man has nothing but trouble after winning the Powerball lottery.
The End of the Mob: Jimmy Breslin, Playboy Magazine.
The most New York of journalists explains how one stoolie squeals on the next until no one is left standing.
Operation Stealing Saddam’s Money: Devin Friedman, GQ.
American troops in Iraq undertake an operation to rob Saddam’s riches.
The Great Mojave Manhunt: Deanne Stillman, Rolling Stone.
A fugitive eludes capture in the largest manhunt in California history.
As mentioned above, 2007 through 2010 had been previously posted on the blue. Here are recently checked links including some stories that weren’t available before.
2007 ntroduction by Linda Fairstein. Personal favorites are starred.*
The Talented Dr. Krist: Steve Fennessy, Atlanta Magazine
The perpetrator of a notorious kidnapping becomes a physician and appears to be trying to go straight after prison. Should he be allowed to leave his past behind?
Double Blind: Matthew Teague, The Atlantic
An undercover agent helps take down the IRA.
A Kiss Before Dying: Pamela Colloff, Texas Monthly
A legendary haunting inspires a reporter to dust off a 45 year old killing.
The Devil in David Berkowitz: Steve Fishman, New York*
Born again, David Berkowitz now has Christian advocates.
Dirty Old Women: Ariel Levy, New York
Teachers who seduce their students.
Who Killed Ellen Andros? Dan P. Lee, Philadelphia*
The prosecution of a police officer plays out between competing Medical Examiners.
Fatal Connection: David Bernstein, Chicago Magazine
The murder of a high class prostitute.
Last Seen September 10th: Mark Fass, New York*
A doctor disappears the day the towers fall.
My Roommate, The Diamond Thief: Brian Boucher. New York
An aspiring writer lucks out by stumbling into a good story.
The Monster of Florence: Douglas Preston, The Atlantic*
A journalist and a crime novelist investigate a series of murders near Florence, Italy and become part of the story.
The Loved Ones: Tom Junod, Esquire*
A riveting account of a New Orleans couple scapegoated for the sins of those who did not adequately respond to Katrina.
The School: C.J. Chivers, Esquire*
Over a thousand students, parents and teachers are taken hostage in a Russian school.
2007 not available online.
The Inside Job: Neil Swidey, Boston Globe
A trusted employee pilfers millions. (The link says available from the archives for subscribers)
The Man Who Loves Books Too Much: Allison Hoover Bartlett, San Francisco
A book collector doesn’t want to pay for them. This story was converted into a full-length book. The perpetrator, after prison, has returned to his former ways.
The Case of the Killer Priest: Sean Flynn, GQ Magazine
After a quarter century, a priest is brought to trial for the murder of a nun.
2008 Introduction by Jonathan Kellerman. (Personal favorites are starred*.)
The Story of a Snitch: Jeremy Kahn, The Atlantic.
A police witness gets careless.
I’m with the Steelers: Justin Heckert, ESPN Magazine
A con man convinces local women he’s a pro football player.
The Caged Life: Alan Prendergast, New West
A white supremacist spends decades in solitary confinement.
Badges of Dishonor: Pamela Colloff, Texas Monthly*
Two border patrol agents shoot an illegal alien and become heroes to some.
The Ploy: Mark Bowden, The Atlantic*
Mark Bowden revisits the subject of interrogation and how it was used to find Al-Zarqawi.
Day of the Dead: D.T. Max, New Yorker*
Malcolm Lowry dies a death worthy of Malcolm Lowry.
Just a Random Female: Nick Schou, Orange County Weekly
A student’s murder appears to be the first of a serial killer.
Mercenary: Tom Junod, Esquire*
A self-proclaimed government assassin is hired as head of security at a nuclear plant.
Dangerous Minds: Malcolm Gladwell, New Yorker*
A deconstruction of criminal profilers.
The House Across the Way: Calvin Trillin, New Yorker
In an isolated town in Northern Canada, townsfolk go to war with an alleged drug dealer. Dean of Death Row: Tad Friend, New Yorker
CO Vernell Crittendon becomes the public face of California’s death row.
I could not find links to these three stories.
The Serial Killer’s Disciple: James Renner, The Cleveland Free Times
A man is executed for three murders. But was he the one?
A Season in Hell: Dean LaTourrette, Men’s Journal
A surfer in Nicaragua is accused of murder.
Murder at 19,000 Feet: Jonathan Green, Men’s Journal*
Mountain climbers witness an execution and face a moral dilemma.
2009 Edited by Otto Penzler and Thomas B. Cook. Guest editor, Jeffrey Toobin.
Body Snatchers, Dan P. Lee Philadelphia magazine.
A ghoulish tale of stolen corpses and the market behind him.
The Fabulous Fraudulent Life of Jocelyn & Ed, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, Rolling Stone.
A pathological spree of consumerism.
The Day Kennedy Die, Michael J. Mooney, D Magazine.
A surgeon’s memories.
Red Days, Charles Bowden, GQ magazine
Drug wars in Mexico
Hate and Death, R. Scott Moxley, OC Weekly.
A hate crime or not a hate crime?
Dead Man’s Float, Stephen Rodrick, New York.
A hedge fund trader is found floating face down in his swimming pool.
American Murder Mystery, Hanna Rosin, The Atlantic.
Why is crime going up in Memphis?
The Color of Blood, Calvin Trillin, New Yorker.
A black man is killed in suburban Long Island.
Stop, Thief! John Colapinto, New Yorker.
The intense business of stopping shoplifters in New York City.
True Crime, David Grann, New Yorker.
Did an author confess to murder in his novel?
Non-Lethal Force, Alec Wilkinson, New Yorker.
“Lethal weapons are defined by their capability. Non-lethal are defined by their intent.”
Tribal Wars, Matt McAllester, Details.
The Somali conflict is played out on the streets of Minneapolis.
The Zankou Chicken Murders, Mark Arax, Los Angeles Magazine.
A chicken recipe is at the center of a murder.
Breaking the Bank, L. Jon Wertheim, Sports Illustrated.
An ultimate fighting champion makes the biggest bank robbery in history.
Only available in the book, 2009:
Everyone Will Remember Me as Some Sort of Monster, Mark Boal, Rolling Stone.
The sad life of a spree killer.
And finally, 2010, the last of the series. Edited by Otto Penzler and Thomas B. Cook. Guest editor, Stephen Dubner.
What Whoopi Goldberg (‘Not a Rape-Rape’), Harvey Weinstein (‘So-Called Crime’) et al. Are Saying in Their Outrage Over the Arrest of Roman Polanski, a poem by Calvin Trillin, The Nation.
What Happened to Etan Patz? Lisa R Cohen, New York
After thirty years a father believes he knows who killed his child.
Flesh and Blood, Pamela Colloff, Texas Monthly
The seemingly perfect child kills her family.
The Chessboard Killer, Peter Savodnik, GQ
A look at one of the most prolific serial killers.
The Great Buffalo Caper, Maximillian Potter (5280)
The complicated history of a commissioned piece of art.
The Man Who Shot The Man Who Shot Lincoln, Ernest B. Furgurson, The American Scholar
The fate of the troubled soldier who shot John Wilkes Booth.
The Boy Who Heard Too Much, David Kushner, Rolling Stone
A blind teenager takes telephone pranks to a new level.
Bringing Down the Dogmen, Skip Hollandsworth, Texas Monthly
Undercover cops versus dog-fighters.
The Sicario, Charles Bowden, Harper’s Magazine
Confessions of a Juarez hit-man.
At the Train Bridge, Calvin Trillin, The New Yorker
Three teenagers are murder at a Michigan train bridge.
Madoff and His Models, Ron Chernow, The New Yorker
The predecessors to Madoff
The Celebrity Defense, Jeffrey Toobin, The New Yorker
More on Polanski
Smooth Jailing, Rick Anderson, Seattle Weekly
A drug dealer named Smooth plays the system.
The Snatchback, Nadya Labi, The Atlantic
Follows a specialist in retrieving children kidnapped in custody battles.
Trial by Fire, David Grann, The New Yorker
The Execution of Cameron Todd Willingham.
In the anthology but not available online, 2010:
Sex, Lies, & Videotape, Kevin Gray, Details
The world’s greatest playboy conman.